PORTLAND, Ore. -- The U.S. Olympic men's basketball team keeps waiting on Larry Bird, but it now appears the Boston Celtics forward might miss the rest of the Tournament of the Americas.
Bird, approaching his 36th birthday, did not play last night for the third straight game, and is considering returning to Boston to receive treatment on his chronic sore back.
"It's not that big a deal here. We're not even getting pushed," Bird said after the Dream Team's 128-87 victory over Argentina. "If I can't play in Barcelona, that's a big deal."
The possibility certainly exists, considering that Bird missed nearly half the NBA season and played only the first game of this Olympic qualifying tournament.
Without Bird, John Stockton (broken leg) and Clyde Drexler (inflamed knee), coach Chuck Daly had only nine players available last night for the game that put the U.S. team in the Olympics.
Drexler's injury dates to the end of last season, but is not considered serious. Daly claimed Stockton is his only "major concern," and denied any sense of urgency with Bird.
"We're talking about it, and just taking it one day at a time," Daly said. "We want him to play in Barcelona, and if it's not right, we're not going to push him. It's a tough situation."