MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Bulletin from the Mediterranean: Team USA practiced yesterday morning, and Larry Bird took part.
He participated in all activities, including scrimmaging, and when he was done he expressed hope that he could perform in tonight's exhibition game against the French National Team at Stade Louis II here.
"I feel real good," he said. "If I feel like this tomorrow, I'll play."
Bird said the determining factor for him is stiffness. His back was not stiff at all yesterday morning, so he decided to give it a shot.
He was pleased to be running and jumping freely. "My shot isn't there yet," he said. "I've been shooting around on the side, but it's not the same as playing in a game."
Coach Chuck Daly is looking forward to tonight.
"We need some outside competition," Daly declared. "Ideally, we could use one more day of practice before we play a game, but this is the way it was set up, so we'll go with it. It doesn't make that much difference."
Really, Chuck, what does with this team?
The major event of the day was a visit to the Royal Palace for dinner with Prince Rainier and family. The team was schooled in some basic protocol such as DO NOT TOUCH THE PRINCE (shake hands if he extends his, of course, but don't do anything else). When he puts his fork down, you put your fork down. When he's done, you're done.
"Wait a minute," said Charles Barkley. "I only eat twice a day, and I get hungry. If I'm not done eating my steak when he's done, I will keep eating. He might not be as hungry as I am. How do I know he hasn't had a snack?"
Obviously, the diplomatic corps does not beckon Monsieur Barkley.