Bad Rap

When it comes to Danny Fortson, don't believe everything you hear

As a basic rule, I hate most people. I don't hate Fortson. In fact, I'm rooting for him, and not simply because he's been straight with me, or because I think he's misunderstood. That's part of the reason he's endearing, but the rest of it stems from watching him play and thinking his style is exactly what this team has always needed--a brute to occupy the lane and tax opponents with hard fouls. He caught a lot of flak for the Zarko Cabarkapa incident--for which he was nationally vilified and suspended for three games by the league after a hard foul resulted in a broken wrist for the Phoenix player--but I didn't see it as dirty. In fact, I thought it was great--the kind of I'm-tougher-than-you action the Mavs have always avoided. (Fortson says he didn't intend to hurt Cabarkapa, but he doesn't plan on apologizing either. Good for him.)

"Danny gives you effort every time out," Nellie says. "It's hard to complain about his effort."

Read into that what you will--that Nelson sees Fortson as an enforcer to be used only in specific situations or that the head coach really is pleased with his bit player. All I know is that Fortson has handled himself well, and, for any number of reasons, I'd like to see him get more court time.

"It's only Christmas; it's early," Fortson says. "Maybe I'll get more time as the season goes on. If he only plays me five minutes a game, then I'll play as hard as I can for five minutes."

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