Conclusion? This man should not be allowed to even look at an official to protest a call.
For those of you in need of your weekly NBA Summer Olympics fix, here are the jersey numbers that have been assigned to the U.S. team that will compete in Barcelona:
David Robinson, 5
Patrick Ewing, 6
Larry Bird, 7
Scottie Pippen, 8
Michael Jordan, 9
Karl Malone, 11
John Stockton, 12
Chris Mullin, 13
Charles Barkley, 14
Magic Johnson, 15
Because Olympic teams use numbers between 4 and 15 and because the other players wear higher numbers during the NBA season, only Stockton has his regular jersey number.
Magic, incidentally, is not only the team's probable on-the-floor leader and designated smiler, but also one of the official USA Basketball T-shirt suppliers. Johnson's company, Magic Johnson T's, has purchased from USA Basketball, the U.S. governing body for international basketball, the rights to market T-shirts that carry the logo USA BASKETBALL. The company does not own rights to market official Olympic products ( Johnson is working on that for the '96 Games in Atlanta), and so it cannot use the Olympic rings on the shirts. But the phrase " USA Basketball" sounds official, and most consumers won't realize that it technically refers to the governing body, not to the team. Magic's people have already produced a few of the T-shirts, one of which carries likenesses of Magic and Jordan.
When Karl Malone posed for his Olympic photo session with NBA photographer Andrew Bernstein a few weeks ago, he shook his head upon being told that the USA Basketball T-shirt he was wearing was part of Magic's line.
"You mean I'm actually making that guy even more money?" said Malone.
Several NBA officials hold certification from FIBA, basketball's international governing body, which means that they are eligible to officiate in the Olympics. They include veteran Dick Bavetta, as well as a few of the league's newer refs, such as Joe Forte (who refereed in the '88 Games in Seoul), George Toliver, Nolan Fine and Ron Olesiak. When you consider that one of the U.S.'s greatest fears in international competition is uneven officiating, it is a comfort to the NBA players that one of their zebras might be in Barcelona, right?