clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

WILL OTHER DREAM TEAMERS RETURN?

Magic wants to be there, but what about Michael and Karl and some of the other original Dream Team members? Are they showing up in Atlanta next year for a shot at another Olympic basketball gold medal?

With the world's deepest talent pool at their disposal, the people who will pick and run the U.S. squad at the 1996 Summer Games were far from ready Wednesday to say just who might be chosen, even if their names are Johnson and Jordan and Malone."They will try to develop the best team possible," said Craig Miller, spokesman for USA Basketball. And when it comes to hoops in America, the best possible seems to get better and better.

With pro players allowed in the Olympics since 1992, the U.S. team already has been all but handed the gold in Atlanta, but recent developments have added intrigue to just who might be on Dream Team III.

Just this week, the captain of the '92 Olympic winners, Magic Johnson, said he wanted to go to the Games again, even though he hasn't played an NBA game in almost three years. Johnson retired from the Los Angeles Lakers in November 1991 after contracting the AIDS virus and, aside from the Barcelona Games, has limited his competition since then to his own international all-star tour.

And if Magic is in the running, what about Mike?

Michael Jordan's comeback from a 1 1/2-year pursuit of baseball means the man generally considered the greatest basketball player ever could be in Atlanta looking for his second straight gold medal and an unprecedented third overall.

Johnson's inactive status does nothing to affect his Olympic eligibility, however, Miller said.

"There is nothing to keep Magic from playing," he said in a telephone interview from the federation's headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Our selection procedure says essentially that any U.S. citizen is eligible for consideration."

Nor would concerns about Johnson's health or competitiveness cloud the picture, Miller continued.

Privately, U.S. Olympic leaders say they can't imagine not at least contacting Jordan to see if he's interested and building the team around him if he is.

Also to be weighed are marketing pluses - and minuses - for both His Airness and the Olympic community; remember that the Dream Team created a nightmare for the U.S. Olympic Committee in Barcelona when individual sneaker and clothing endorsements clashed with those of the full team.

Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks and Chris Mullin of the Golden State Warriors, teammates of Jordan in both 1984 and '92, could be in that history making group of triple gold-medal winners, too, if they were picked. Other Dream Team originals still active include Karl Malone and John Stockton of Utah, Charles Barkley of Phoenix, David Robinson of San Antonio, Clyde Drexler of Houston and Scottie Pippen, Jordan's teammate with Chicago.