Basketball: Bears face BBL investigation over Rodman's guest appearance

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The hullabaloo surrounding Dennis Rodman's appearance for the Brighton Bears in their 91-88 win over the Guildford Heat on Saturday night will intensify today when the British Basketball League investigates whether the 6ft 7in five-time NBA champion should have been on court at all. Brighton's publicity coup could cost them two points for the win and other sanctions.

Guildford's coach Paul James, wary of spoiling the party for a 1,500 crowd at The Triangle, told officials before the game his side were playing under protest when he discovered that Rodman would play with his fellow Americans Andrew Alleyne, Terrance McGee and Jerry Williams. James believes all four require work permits.

Regulations permit only three work-permit holders on court and the BBL said yesterday: "We are aware allegations have been made against Brighton for breaching player eligibility rules. We will be requesting the Bears supply further information to our investigation."

If the League is uncertain which players require work permits, James is not. "You have got to play within the rules and they didn't do it. We would have been within our rights not to play or to insist one of those four didn't play. But with all the people there we didn't want to make a fuss or be painted as the bad guys. But we made it quite clear to the officials and Brighton before the game we were playing under protest and signed the scoresheet accordingly at the end.

"It's wonderful people had the chance to see him play and it was a great experience for me and my players, but that isn't the point. It has been like a circus all week leading up to the game and now the BBL need to be seen to be strong in dealing with this. We should get the two points for the game and it shouldn't end there."

Rodman scored four points and took seven rebounds, thin statistics for a former Chicago Bull and Detroit Piston, but when he was playing the Bears either consolidated or pulled away from the Heat. James said: "He cemented them defensively and maybe we showed too much respect."

Rodman, whose two missed free throws six seconds from time gave Guildford the chance to save the game, said: "I wasn't here to steal the show, just to have some fun and help these players who have been working the butts off."

James added: "At least we forced him to the free throw line and he missed both. That was neat."

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