Olympic Games Rumors
So when John Stockton pulled a bit of a trick on fans when he interviewed them on the street in this video, he could do it (wearing sunglasses of course) without being recognized. Until, of course, his son pointed to a fan’s shirt and said “that’s my dad!” The confused random fan then figured it out. “Do you play on the team?” she asked, her eyes wide. The video closes out with Stockton, with his ’90s camcorder, walking down the street with his family, unnoticed, and joking that he just can’t go anywhere without being mobbed.
USA at the Olympics: Win Shares of players selected to the squad the season before the tournament. So yeah, the 2004 team was the worst.
Because of the cache that USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo has created by playing in the Olympics today, it’s hard to forget how difficult people thought it would be back then to get NBA players to play in the Games, to play for a relative pittance and sacrifice their precious down time after a grueling season. But the exclusivity was the hook; if players knew only a few would be chosen, it created desire to be there, like being in a club that almost no one else could join. “I remember people like Billy Packer saying players would never give up their summer,” Granik told me years later. But the committee found it to be, relatively, easier than people believed it would be to get commitments.
“Players played in the Olympics in college,” Granik said. “And at that time, most of the players played in college. If it was their junior or senior year, they would play in the Olympics if they were Michael Jordan or Patrick Ewing. And if they were Larry Bird or Magic Johnson and left school early, they never had an opportunity to play, and they missed it. Every player had the same reaction. Rod called most of the players. Two or three, we called together. I called a couple that I knew. We told them the kind of players we were trying to recruit. They all had the same reaction — if you can put that kind of team together, I’m on board.”
“Larry was a different situation,” Granik said. “He was ailing already at the time. And there really was a question of ‘should he be on the team because he was Larry Bird? And eventually the committee felt, yes. The fact that Magic said he was in, it worked that way with Larry and the others. Rod obviously had a strong relationship with Michael because he drafted him. Rod always told me, Michael says he’s in. He just didn’t want it public. But trust me, he’s in.”
Thorn has a slightly different recollection. “Early on he told Russ he would play,” Thorn texted on Saturday. “Then later, there was a report from a golf tournament he was playing in, I think it was an amateur tournament in the Midwest, that he had changed his mind. I called him at the Tournament and he confirmed that he was going to play. After that, we always thought he was a go, regardless of various reports otherwise.”
With Pippen and Jordan taking turns guarding him, Kukoc didn’t score his first points until the end of the 1st half. By the time the final whistle blew, Kukoc’s line in the box score showed four points on 2-11 shooting with seven turnovers and zero trips to the free throw line. Said the Croatian star afterwards: “I’ve never seen that kind of defense before.” Jordan finished with eight steals, tying his U.S. Olympic record set just 24 hours previously against Angola while Pippen had five steals of his own. Their 13 combined steals were more than they ever had in 691 games as teammates with the Bulls.