DEERFIELD, Ill. -- No headbands, no problems.
That was the message the Bulls sent Monday afternoon, two days
after Chicago center Ben Wallace flouted a team rule against
wearing a headband during a game.
Wallace was benched Saturday during a 106-95 victory over the
New York Knicks for wearing the red headwear, which runs afoul of a
rule set by executive vice president of basketball operations John
Paxson. A team meeting was held and the issue will be resolved
quickly, Bulls coach Scott Skiles said Monday.
"I look at it like these things are, most times, inevitable,"
Skiles said. "This happens in pro sports. These things come up."
Paxson said he didn't like the cavalier way Bulls wore headbands
when he took over for Jerry Krause in April 2003.
"It's not meant in any way to stifle anybody's individuality or
creativity," Paxson said. "It was just simply part of a structure
we were trying to create."
Wallace did not practice Monday after an MRI on his right wrist -- which was banged up in the Knicks game -- showed no significant
damage. He declined to comment through a team spokesman.
The reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year has struggled to
fit in with his new team after leaving the Detroit Pistons for a
four-year, $60 million contract. The 32-year-old center is
averaging 5.5 points and 9.2 rebounds a game and the team's defense
looks worse than last season.
Media reports in Chicago have indicated Wallace is unhappy with
his new team. He has reportedly butted heads with the team on other
issues, like playing music in the locker room, and has had problems
with other coaches in the past.
Skiles and Paxson said they had a telephone conversation with
Wallace on Sunday and don't believe the headband was a rebellion
against the coach.
"I'm going to talk to Ben again and see if there's more to this
than the headband issue," Paxson said.
While Wallace has struggled, so have the Bulls. Skiles hopes the
conflict wakes up his young team, which ended a six-game losing
streak and closed out a disappointing 1-6 road trip with the win
over New York. The Bulls are now 4-9.
"I don't think it's the worst thing in the world for them to
see some confrontation like that, as long as it gets resolved. I
think it's something we can all learn from."