Alleged altercation highlights code of conduct Would criminal charges jeopardize Barkley's spot?

July 09, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

The alleged incident involving Dream Team member Charles Barkley in a Cleveland bar early Sunday morning raises an interesting question: Does punching another person in a bar violate the code of conduct U.S. Olympic athletes are supposed to follow?

Barkley, who has a history of similar altercations, reportedly was with fellow Dream Teamer Reggie Miller when Jeb Tyler of Spencerport, N.Y., began talking with a woman who was with the players at the Basement, a local dance club.

According to Tyler, Barkley told him to leave and Tyler suggested that Barkley leave. That's when Tyler said Barkley threw the first punch. Tyler told a local television station that he was just trying to defend himself and fought back.

"When the fight was getting broken up, he was still jumping over the bouncer and still throwing punches," said Tyler, a business equipment salesman. "He was going nuts. He was just crazy."

Said Miller, who earlier in the evening had dinner with Barkley and Cleveland Indians outfielder Albert Belle: "It's really unfortunate. You try to go out. You try to have a good time and something like this happens."

No criminal charges have been filed, but if they are, will it jeopardize Barkley's spot on the Dream Team? Barkley, who also played on the original Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, was added to the team by coach Lenny Wilkens in April.

He is considered one of the leaders of a team whose members were picked as much for their class as for their talent. "We want character, not characters," USA Basketball director C. M. Newton said at the time.

That decision came about as a result of the boorish behavior displayed by Dream Team II in 1994 at the world championships in Toronto. Though Shawn Kemp's grabbing a part of his own body cost him a place on Dream Team III, Barkley's elbowing an Angolan player was excused.

The incident involving Barkley comes a few weeks after two U.S. boxers, David Reid of Philadelphia and Lawrence Clay-Bey of Hartford, Conn., were accused in separate incidents. Reid was arrested recently for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in a Florida hotel room, and a 16-month-old charge of sexual assault against Clay-Bey recently was brought to light.

Neither Reid nor Clay-Bey is expected to miss the Olympics. Reid's girlfriend reportedly declined to press charges, and the charge against Clay-Bey predated his signing of the code of conduct. USOC officials were unavailable for comment about Barkley.

Private housing

The Olympic Village at Georgia Tech will house some 15,000 athletes and officials, but another prominent U.S. team will have separate accommodations. Joining the men's and women's basketball teams, the men's and women's gymnastics teams will live in private housing in the Atlanta area for the duration of the Games.

"In Barcelona it was hard because everyone was on different schedules," said Dominique Dawes, one of three members of the 1996 team who competed in Barcelona. "You'd get back late at night and it was sometimes hard to sleep."

The women's gymnastics team is currently in training camp in Greensboro, N.C., and will give an exhibition Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum before leaving for Atlanta.

Opening ceremonies honors

The early favorite for U.S. flag bearer at the opening ceremonies is women's basketball player Teresa Edwards, a native of Atlanta who will be participating in her fourth Olympics.

The opening ceremonies fall on her 32nd birthday.

Two potential candidates for the honor of lighting the flame are former Olympic champion Edwin Moses, who has lived in Atlanta since college, and another Atlanta native, former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, whose Olympic experience was marked by his controversial disqualification from the semifinals of the 1984 Games for an alleged low blow.

Countdown

Days until opening ceremonies: 10.

Back on track: Michael Johnson won the 200 meters in Stockholm, Sweden, in 19.77 seconds, the sixth-fastest time ever. The U.S. star's 21-race winning streak at that distance was broken Friday by Namibia's Frankie Fredericks, who didn't compete yesterday.

Harris falls short: Ronnie Harris (Navy, Class of 1987) missed a chance Saturday night in Belgium to qualify for the 5,000-meter run. Harris needed a time of 13 minutes, 29 seconds and finished in 13: 29.25. His last chance comes Thursday in Eugene, Ore.

A. J. leads U.S: A.J. Hinch hit a bases-loaded, two-run single in the ninth inning to lead Team USA over South Korea, 7-3, in Millington, Tenn. Hinch's hit broke a 3-3 tie. Warren Morris and Jacque Jones added RBI singles for the final score. Braden Looper (1-0) got the win.

Pub Date: 7/09/96

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