BEIJING -- If the basketball competition is assuming an old pattern, with the U.S. dominating and attention shifting elsewhere, the U.S. players, superstars all, are still the lives of this party.
Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Jason Kidd went to see Michael Phelps win the 200-meter butterfly, the race in which his goggles leaked. Monday night Phelps and about 20 members of the U.S. swim team returned the favor, attending the 106-57 rout of Germany.
Invited to the dressing room afterward, Phelps gave the players a pair of goggles. Dwight Howard wore them to the interview room.
"I told him [Phelps] I was going to do the 100-meter medley next year," Howard said.
Said Phelps: "When we're swimming and we look up and see these guys, it's awesome to see them in the stands. We were all so excited, it was like we can't lose in front of these guys, we're not losing a single race in front of these guys."
Of course, the basketball players shared the goggles as they've shared the ball. LeBron James took his turn with them in the mixed zone.
"He made history as one of the best swimmers ever," said Carmelo Anthony, like Phelps a native of Baltimore, "so for us to be a part of that and be here with him, we just felt good about it."
-- Mark Heisler
Oliver's own blog
David Oliver had a busy day Monday. He not only won his heat in the first round of the 110-meter high hurdles, he had time to blog about it (davidoliverhurdles.blogspot.com).
You must admit, he does raise a good question when he asks, "Every major city in America has Chinatown, so I was wondering if they have some sort of Americatown here?"
-- Helene Elliott
Pearls before silk
I went to Beijing's Silk Market.
I had a booth number written down on a torn piece of paper in my wallet. It was a connection from an associate of a friend who comes to China for business on a regular basis. Pearls, Chinese pearls, and cheap. That was the plan. I was going to take care of all of my gift purchases for the next 38 months.
I have no idea how many pearls I bought. Probably thousands. My wife, my mother, my three sisters, my sister-in-law, my other sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, my daughter. Anniversaries, Christmas, birthdays, wedding gifts.
Then I spent the next 45 minutes haggling over a taxi to take me back to the hotel.
Because I had only about $6 left.
-- Gary Hall Jr.