Catching that Olympic spirit

Kevin Cowherd

July 10, 1992|By Kevin Cowherd

Fresh from six straight blow-out wins in the Tournament of the Americas, the U.S. Olympic basketball team now reports to the Summer Games in Barcelona for further blood-letting.

L Here's a look at how the, ahem, competition is likely to go:

USA vs. Angola -- Angola senses the Americans are taking the game lightly when Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler and Chris Mullin report for warm-ups in bright green pants and canary-yellow polo shirts while lugging golf bags, explaining they have an early tee time.

Angola's shaky confidence plummets further when two of its players are killed attempting to stop a monstrous dunk by Charles Barkley. The team is forced to fill out its roster with its 53-year-old trainer and a goat.

As the U.S. opens a 70-point lead, NBC cameras capture Larry Bird and Magic Johnson sipping pina coladas on the bench.

Final score: USA 177, Angola 22.

In his post-game remarks, U.S. coach Chuck Daly says he's "concerned" about his team's next game with Colombia. An aide informs Daly the Americans are actually scheduled to play Croatia.

"Croatia?" says Daly.

USA vs. Croatia -- After an all-night blackboard session during which the break-up of the former Yugoslavia is explained to him, Daly is finally able to pinpoint the Balkan nation on a map.

Unbelievably loose, all five U.S. starters play with 35mm cameras slung around their necks, pausing to take snapshots.

With the U.S. firmly in control (100-25), the referees warn Bird about the barbecue grill he's set up near the team's bench.

Final score: USA 163, Croatia 53.

In his post-game remarks, Daly says he's "worried" about the next game with Belgium. An aide quietly points out the Americans are actually scheduled to play Germany next.

"East or West?" Daly asks.

USA vs. Germany -- After attending a briefing on the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and subsequent reunification of Germany, Daly tells reporters he's "flabbergasted at the changes taking place in our world."

With fully three-quarters of the team now in golf attire (including spiked shoes) Daly elects to play only Jordan and Karl "Mailman" Malone against the Germans.

Final score: USA 192, Germany 61.

After huddling with an aide, Daly tells reporters he's "apprehensive" about the team's upcoming game against Brazil.

"Y'know, I almost married a gal from Rio," Daly chuckles.

In a statement released later, Daly says the woman he nearly married was from Reno, not Rio.

USA vs. Brazil -- Desperate for scoring punch, the Brazilians suit up rock star/Amazon Rain Forest activist Sting, despite his frail 132-pound frame.

Visibly bored, Patrick Ewing leads the entire U.S. team in an impromptu session of "Simon Says."

Final score: U.S. 191, Brazil 60.

In his post-game remarks, Daly appears to freeze in front of the cameras, then inexplicably begins reciting the Gettysburg Address in a halting voice.

USA vs. Spain -- Concerned about Spain's home-court advantage, Daly demands the Spaniards play with one hand tied behind their backs.

In a tragic accident, plucky Spanish matador-turned-point-guard Jose Luis Leon is killed by a lawn dart inadvertently tossed by Scottie Pippen.

Final score: USA 185, Spain 45.

Daly does not appear for the post-game news conference; he is later seen chain-smoking and talking to himself in the lobby of the team's hotel.

Quarterfinals, USA vs. China -- With no member of the starting five taller than 5-foot-2, the Chinese request that the game be played "just for funsies."

Final score: USA 230, China 7.

Daly appears at the post-game news conference wearing a bullfighter's cape and sword, and is promptly led away.

Semifinals, USA vs. Lithuania -- Pre-game festivities include a traditional Lithuanian ceremony, as each player appears with a lit candle in one hand and a clump of ice in the other, symbolizing their "snowball's chance in hell" of beating U.S.

Final score: USA 330, Lithuania 14.

Amnesty International promptly lodges a formal complaint, citing the U.S. team for cruel and inhuman punishment. Daly punches Boris Yeltsin when the Russian president stops by to offer congratulations.

Finals, USA vs. Commonwealth of Independent States.

In a bizarre finish, the game is halted when a fan produces a fresh tomato and the CIS players, forced to endure severe food shortages back home, stampede into the stands.

Final score: USA 420, CIS 20.

The U.S. wins the gold medal.

Daly is held overnight in a Barcelona hospital for observation.

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