Wall's graceless remark unleashed a flurry of resentment that had been seething among the women for quite a while. There were complaints that the women's hotels and practice facilities, in Myrtle Beach. S.C., and Tampa, leading up to the Pan Am Games had been substandard; that financial backing for the women was lacking; that the dread second-class treatment was everywhere evident.
"The traveling back and forth to Miami was a big thing to us and would have helped," says Gordon. (It didn't exactly help the U.S. men, who were beaten 73-68 by Puerto Rico in the Pan American semifinals.)
Last week in Colorado Springs, Wall and Stringer met face-to-face in USA Basketball meetings, and everything seemed hunky-dory. "Last year? A dead issue, water over the dam," said Wall. This summer the Dream Team will train in that basketball hotbed of Monte Carlo, where the men players will stay in hotel rooms costing about $350 a night, all paid for by Prince Ranier, while the Shadow Crew trains in Montpellier, France (rooms: about $130, paid for by USA Basketball); in Barcelona, the men will stay in a luxury hotel while the women remain in the athletes" village.
Grentz initially planned for the women to train in Bermuda until she decided that the facilities weren't good enough, and she had the option of keeping her team outside the village in Barcelona. "But to me being in the Olympics is being with the other athletes," she says. "If the men were staying in the village, it would be a three-ring circus. How would you provide security if Michael Jordan and Larry Bird were roommates?"
Lynn Barry, the assistant executive director of USA Basketball, points out that even the women's team "is looking forward to meeting the men's team. People don't know the real story. USA Basketball did gender equity from the very beginning. We've always treated the women the same way as the men."
The evidence suggests otherwise: that women are treated about as equal in USA Basketball as they are in the U.S.A.