Surly Worm Gets The Bird

After a loss three weeks ago, Los Angeles Lakers coach Kurt Rambis was berating the team in the locker room. Dennis Rodman raised his hand, according to two teammates. "May I say," Rodman offered, "what a sh-tty coach you are?" Last Thursday, after "The Worm" showed up late for yet another practice, Rambis and owner Jerry Buss finally put an end to Rodman's two-month tenure, waiving him and agreeing to pay the remainder of his $600,000 contract. (Neither team executive would comment.) Rodman's teammates, whom he had carelessly criticized in the press, including NEWSWEEK, were neither surprised nor sorry to see him go. "He was coming into practice--if he got there--smelling like pure alcohol," said one. "He had been nothing but trouble on a team with enough trouble without him. We couldn't take it anymore and he didn't seem to [care]. That was the big problem."

Rodman denied the drinking charge, and told NEWSWEEK that he was being made the scapegoat for a team playing below expectations. "They need someone to blame for what's happening on the team and I'm that guy," he said. "They are cowards for putting all of it on me because people know the truth--I'm the fall guy."

Rodman, 37, is free to sign with another NBA team (though he's not eligible for the playoffs). But he always said he came to L.A. to conquer Hollywood. Besides his on- and off-court antics, he has already snagged a cameo on "L.A. Doctors." And if that fails, there's always professional wrestling. Rodzilla may yet strike again.