Originally created 05/17/99

NBA notes: J.R. Reid fined



J.R. Reid of the Los Angeles Lakers was fined $10,000 by the NBA on Sunday for a flagrant foul committed against Houston's Scottie Pippen in the final game of their playoff series.

Reid fouled Pippen with 8:39 left in the third quarter of the Lakers' 98-88 victory that eliminated Houston on Saturday.

The fine was announced by Rod Thorn, the NBA's senior vice president of basketball operations, who changed the foul from a flagrant penalty one to a more severe flagrant penalty two.

SKIPPING COLLEGE: Picayune (La.) High center Jonathan Bender, who broke Michael Jordan's record with 31 points in the McDonald's All-America game, said Sunday that he had declared himself eligible for the June 30 NBA Draft.

By beating a midnight Sunday deadline to make his intention known to the NBA, the 6-foot-11 Bender backed out of a national letter of intent that he signed with Mississippi State.

An NBA spokesman said the league won't make an official announcement of early entries until today. At least 15 players have declared for early entry in the draft, with Bender the only high school player among the group.

Bender didn't have an expected news conference to announce his decision, said Sunday that he was going to turn pro.

Bender averaged 25 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots a game as a senior at Picayune. But it was his performance in the March 25 McDonald's game, when he broke Jordan's scoring record, that increased his draft status.

If Bender is a lottery selection as projected, and taken among the top 13 picks in the NBA draft, he could make about $9 million his first three seasons.

Thaddeus Fouchier, Bender's summer-league team coach, said the youngster's draft position was too good to pass up.

"We were told that Jonathan is the only high school player who would go among the top eight to 10 picks in the draft," Fouchier said.

Under a new NCAA rule, high school players are ineligible to play college basketball once they apply for the draft.

The underclassmen who have declared themselves eligible for the NBA draft are Ron Artest from St. John's, William Avery, Elton Brand and Corey Maggette of Duke, Carl Boyd of California; Baron Davis of UCLA; Steve Francis of Maryland; Dion Glover of Georgia Tech; Richard Hamilton of Connecticut; Jumaine Jones of Georgia; Lamont Long of New Mexico; Jamaal Magliore of Kentucky; Shawn Marion of UNLV; and Albert White of Missouri.

NCAA players can return to college if they don't sign with agent, regardless of draft status.