BARCELONA — What would the originators of the Olympic ideal think of all this Dream Team stuff?
Anybody who still clings to the Olympic concept as that of a gathering of athletes attempting to excel purely for the glory of the attempt need only look to the daily doings of the U.S. Olympic basketball team.
Among Wednesday's news was a nugget informing that the team would, at some point, actually go to the athletes' village and spend a few hours visiting with the other competitors.
There was also a lot of doubt wiped out about just whose show this U.S. basketball team is. When the United States Olympic Committee sent a notice to reporters about how various news organizations would rate in getting seats at Olympic basketball games involving this team, most of the criteria had to do with how much the news organizations have covered the NBA and traveled with NBA teams. Past Olympic coverage didn't appear to be an issue.
One Spanish sports newspaper, El Mundo, described Michael Jordan as "the King of the Casino," saying that recently, during the team's stay in Monte Carlo, Jordan, dressed "extremely elegantly," was the center of attention as he played craps until 3 a.m.
First, the exploits of cycling star Miguel Indurain forced the Olympics into frequent second billing in the media here in recent weeks. Then, Wednesday, it was the suicide of a popular Spanish boxer.
Heavyweight Jose Manuel Ibar Urtain, European champion in the early 1970s, leaped to his death from a 10th-floor balcony in Madrid, ending his life at 49. That story, complete with huge graphic pictures of a bloody Urtain, right where he landed, took up many pages of news and sports publications here.
The U.S. boxing team hit the ground running here this week and didn't stop until it reached the nearest topless beach.
Boxers Oscar De La Hoya, Pepe Reilly, Raul Marquez and Sergio Reyes rode bicycles several miles along the Mediterranean shore the other day in search of a topless beach.
They found it, and Marquez described what happened:
"We saw this woman coming out of the water who was gorgeous. She looked like one of those girls in the Sports Illustrated bathing-suit issue.
"So Sergio and I got our cameras out and ran down to her and started to take her picture. We figured it was OK, because she wasn't wearing no ring. But just as we started to take pictures this guy is suddenly right next to us--we never saw him coming--and he told us: 'If you take one picture, you could lose your cameras or something.'
"So we said OK, and didn't take any pictures."
Times staff writer Earl Gustkey contributed to this story.