Dream Team talks a good game, too Foreign media impressed by session with players

July 19, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- The young man from Denmark apologized for his naivete, then asked Karl Malone the question.

"Excuse me, I am new to this business, but why is a basket worth two points?" the man wanted to know.

Malone smiled.

"You are new," the Utah Jazz power forward said gently. "That's a tough question. I thought I've heard them all. It's just the way Dr. Naismith designed it, my man. You get two points for a basket, unless you step outside the three-point line. That's the way we play the game over here in middle America, son."

Before a standing-room crowd of credentialed media, some of whom applauded their entrance into the small amphitheater here at the Olympic Press Center, Malone and his Dream teammates introduced themselves and the rules of their game yesterday to the rest of the world. Though their warm-up tour against foreign countries has been a series of blowouts, the interplay with foreign journalists during the hour-long news conference was far more interesting.

There was Charles Barkley, for instance, being asked about his recent altercation. Not with the business machine salesman from upstate New York who recently got into it with Barkley at a bar in Cleveland, but Shane Gill, the Australian player who got into a joust with the often combative Phoenix Suns forward during an exhibition last week. A man from Australia wanted to know what Barkley thought of Gill.

"He is sure a talkative little fellow," said Barkley, who sneered when he was introduced as being a member of the Suns, his employers for the past four years but probably not for much longer. "He called me a couple of names. I told him that I don't take that from Americans, I'm certainly not going to take it from foreigners."

When another Australian journalist asked Barkley, "Do you hit somebody in retaliation, or do you hit somebody just to hit them?' the man U.S. coach Lenny Wilkens called his team's "sergeant at arms" rolled his eyes. "I've always tried to be consistent," he said. "I try to hit everybody."

There was Scottie Pippen, being asked by a man from Hungry if ego was a factor with this team. With all seriousness, the Chicago Bulls forward said, "We haven't had a problem with ego. We all realize we're all superstars with our respective teams. We've come together and we know we're the greatest players in the world. That's the only ego we carry out with us on the floor."

There was Grant Hill being asked about Argentina, the United States' opening-round opponent tomorrow night at the Georgia Dome. An Argentine journalist wanted Hill to assess the South American country's team. Hill, the former Duke All-America, hemmed and hawed and finally admitted he had not seen them play. "I really don't know," he said. "I'm sure they shoot the ball well from the outside. I'm sure they move without the ball. I'm sure they pass well."

And each basket will be worth two points, unless you step outside the three-point line. Finally, as the news conference was drawing to a close, a man from Finland wanted to know what Hakeem Olajuwon thought of a "fine basketball team [Finland's] that unfortunately is not here."

Ever gracious, Olajuwon smiled.

"They are not here," said Olajuwon, "so I cannot assess them."

Welcome to middle America.

Pub Date: 7/19/96

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