If there is one point that is beyond debate at these Games, Charles, it's that the U.S. has been given its due as a great basketball team. And if there is one Dream Teamer who has taken a giant step toward the footlights on this world stage, it is Barkley. After America's 122-81 laugher over Spain on Sunday, which moved the U.S. to this week's medal round, Barkley stood first on the team in points (21.6 per game) and third in rebounds (5.4).
Not that there were doubts about Barkley's skills, but his astonishing range of abilities—outrebounding much taller players, running the floor like a guard and getting his shot off with either hand while bouncing off bodies around the basket—seem more pronounced when performed within the Dream Team galaxy. "That Charles Barkley," said Brazilian star Oscar Schmidt, shaking his head after Barkley scored 30 points in America's easy 127-83 victory. "We just don't see any like that."
That's because there's only one like that. After his final field goal against Brazil, Barkley trotted to a corner of the court and held his arms aloft, a Pavarotti in short pants, inviting the emotions of the crowd to roll down upon him. Some jeered him, but most cheered. And absolutely everyone noticed him. He likes it that way.