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HOOP SCOOP
Marty Burns
February 17, 1997
A hot topic at this year's All-Star weekend was injuries, and not just because they forced several high-profile players to sit out the game. Dream Team III members Charles Barkley, Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O'Neal and David Robinson have been sidelined for chunks of the season, and some are wondering if playing in the Olympics last summer might have had something to do with their being banged up. "You have to wonder about that with all the guys who are hurt," says Sonics guard Gary Pay-ton, a '96 Olympian who was bothered by a sore back earlier this season. "We're used to taking the summer off, giving our bodies some rest. It might [have affected us more] because we're all getting older." As a result, expect a younger, less-experienced U.S. squad at the 2000 Games in Sydney....
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February 17, 1997

Hoop Scoop

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A hot topic at this year's All-Star weekend was injuries, and not just because they forced several high-profile players to sit out the game. Dream Team III members Charles Barkley, Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O'Neal and David Robinson have been sidelined for chunks of the season, and some are wondering if playing in the Olympics last summer might have had something to do with their being banged up. "You have to wonder about that with all the guys who are hurt," says Sonics guard Gary Pay-ton, a '96 Olympian who was bothered by a sore back earlier this season. "We're used to taking the summer off, giving our bodies some rest. It might [have affected us more] because we're all getting older." As a result, expect a younger, less-experienced U.S. squad at the 2000 Games in Sydney....

Michael Jordan was up to his old tricks before the Ail-Star Game. Last year he pulled off Hardaway's warmup pants as Penny rose from the bench during pregame introductions. This time Jordan targeted Atlanta center Dikembe Mutombo, tugging the big man's warmups loose as he ran from the tunnel during the spotlighted intros. Scottie Pippen, introduced next, held tight to his pants when his name was called....

The reason this year's All-Stars wore their regular team uniforms, despite any confusion it may have caused? Generic All-Star duds don't sell well at the local shopping mall; team jerseys do....

Lakers rookie guard Kobe Bryant. the new Slam Dunk champ, said last Friday that his first name comes from a. Japanese word meaning "tender meat." That's a tidbit the 18-year-old phenom might have been better off keeping from his teammates....

Don Nelson's first order of business when he accepted the job as general manager in Dallas last Friday was to waive center Oliver Miller. When Doug Collins became head coach-G.M. of Detroit two years ago, his first move was also to cut Miller....

Forward P.J. Brown, who signed a seven-year, $36 million free-agent deal with Miami last summer, says that only two players have congratulated him on his windfall. " Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman," Brown said. "That's two megastars. I know I'm blessed." Maybe Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, who views Jordan's kindness to opposing players as a psychological ploy, is onto something after all....

How much worse can things get for Pacers point guard Jalen Rose? With starter Travis Best sitting out a Feb. 6 game against the Nets, coach Larry Brown went with second-year guard Jerome Allen rather than Rose down the stretch....

Miami's 6'10" backup, Isaac Austin, torched center-challenged Boston for 17 points and nine rebounds in a 118-117 victory on Feb. 5, then made the Celtics feel worse by saying he would have signed with them last summer if they had just returned his agent's calls. Boston coach M.L. Carr would blame it on the G.M., except he is the G.M....

Sixers rookie forward Mark Bradtke, rumored to be headed for the injured reserve list when forward Scott Williams came off it, walked to the locker room after a recent practice limping dramatically. Just before he reached the door, he stopped and said, "No, wait. It's supposed to be the right leg." Then he adjusted his limp and kept going. Within a few hours it was announced that Williams had been activated and Bradtke was going on the IR with a "lumbar sprain and strain."

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