There was no massive throng of reporters chasing Dennis Rodman at the Bulls practice Monday morning. No offensive quotes gurgling out of The Worm's mouth and no reporters stepping on his sensitive toes, either.

In fact, there was no Rodman at all.Like the Jazz had done the night before when they should have been playing Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Rodman plain didn't show up at the United Center when he was supposed to.

Surprised? The Bulls aren't.

"I think everybody on the team kind of understands this is a guy who has trouble concentrating on what the mundane part of this game is all about," said Chicago coach Phil Jackson, partially sticking up for Rodman. "He's not particularly comfortable in these kind of (press conference-type) situations, as you guys know. He's willing to take whatever deviant action happens and take responsibility for it."

Even less of a shock than his no-show was what he was doing to make him sleep - assuming he did - through his alarm clock.

The doorman at Rodman's Illusions - a downtown nightclub bearing his name - said that after the Bulls dismantled the Jazz 96-54 Rodman spent Sunday night and Monday morning gambling on an Indiana riverboat with Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Chris Chelios.

Viva . . . Hammond, Ind.?

Jackson spoke to Rodman before the Bulls held their light shootaround and media session Monday, and his eccentric (to say the least) power forward didn't offer any lame excuses for not showing his colorful self at practice.

"He rarely offers an excuse for this," said Jackson, who has dealt with Rodman being late for and missing practices on countless occasions. "He never tells me he had a flat tire or that his dog ate his key or something like that. He just says, `You know, I was late.' What do I have to say?"

The NBA and the Bulls' organizations could have something to say - in the form of fines - to Rodman for missing the mandatory media interviews. Jackson actually had a message for the media to relay to him, too.

"By the way, Dennis, practice is at 10:30 tomorrow morning," Jackson said, getting a loud chuckle from nearby reporters.

Jackson continued his brief comedy routine when he related part of the conversation he had with Dennis The Menace earlier in the day.

"He said . . . he didn't think he could make it in time for the press conference," said Jackson. "I asked him, `Dennis, what do you think I should say to the press?' Then he hung up on me."

Rodman did eventually make it to an NBA arena on Monday, though his game is no better because of it. He was a guest of Hollywood (formerly Hulk) Hogan at WCW's Monday Night Nitro at The Palace at Auburn Hills, home of the Detroit Pistons.

The rest of the Bulls have become resigned to live with this kind of "Dennis being Dennis" behavior."

"We are pretty much used to it," said Bulls star Scottie Pippen. "It is the wrong time of the season to take the focus away from what we are trying to accomplish, but we've always let Dennis have his way. Hopefully, he'll be at practice tomorrow."

No need to worry. "He will be at practice tomorrow," insisted Jackson.

FREAKY FORWARD: Jackson only half-jokingly mused that the world would be in chaos if more people behaved like Rodman.

"We couldn't have a society if people acted like Dennis. There would be nobody having lanes in the freeways. You couldn't queue up anywhere and get in line. You'd have to be disorderly," he said. "Dennis is not a normal person in our society, but he's great in what he does here . . . I think that's why the fans who understand him love him, and people that can't stand it despise him. If you get on either side, I feel for you. I'm trying to be neutral in this."

DREAMCOAT-WEARING FAN: Donny Osmond, of all people, was featured prominently in the sports pages of the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday. It seems the Sun-Times wanted to know the native Utahn's take on the Finals.

Osmond, who has been seen at several Jazz games this year sitting on the front row in Larry H. Miller's seats, admitted that he's pulling for the Jazz. But he said he also has a soft spot for the Bulls after spending two years in Chicago while playing the part of Joseph in the stage production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

While Osmond admitted that he'd rather have Michael Jordan as a guest on his upcoming talk show with his sister, Marie, than Karl Malone, he said that he'll be in the United Center on Wednesday rooting for the Jazz. "It's going to be dangerous," he said. "I'm going to be screaming for the Jazz and I'll probably get beaten up."