Ask Sacramento Kings guard Mitch Richmond about his bronze medal from the 1988 Summer Olympics, and he'd say he has no idea what it looks like. He's not proud that the United States failed to win a gold medal that year, as everyone had expected.
"It doesn't mean that much because I felt we should have won the gold," said Richmond, who said the medal and other Olympic memorabilia are stored away in a bag. "I haven't opened it since we left the Olympics. Maybe my mother has, but I didn't. I didn't touch it. I haven't opened the bag."
The All-Star guard would like nothing better than to have another chance, just as David Robinson did when he won with the original Dream Team in 1992. But Richmond, who was thought to be a front-runner for one of the two openings on this year's team, now faces some stiff competition.
The leading candidates are Richmond, Seattle SuperSonics forward Shawn Kemp, Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd and Los Angeles Lakers forward Magic Johnson. Johnson, a member of the '92 Dream Team, has openly campaigned for a spot.
"Definitely you get frustrated at times," Richmond said about word that Johnson has the inside track. "He [Johnson] has been out four years. Now he's another candidate for the job. That's out of my jurisdiction, or whatever, of who's going to get invited to the team.
"Whoever goes, I just wish them luck. But I'll know that I got shafted if I don't."
Michael Jordan, who turned down an invitation to play in a third Olympics, has backed Richmond. It would be nice if the NBA recognizes one of the classiest players in the league, and allows Richmond a second chance.
Garnett on the rise
Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Kevin Garnett is continuing to play impressively since becoming a starter, scoring a career-high 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds in a loss to the Chicago Bulls earlier this week. It was Garnett's first game in Chicago, where this time a year ago he was playing for Farragut Academy.
"The kid is mature beyond his years in a basketball sense," Jordan said. "I think he would have wasted his time going to play college ball because within one or two years he's going to be an All-Star in this league."
Added Scottie Pippen, who shot just 5-for-17 while matched against Garnett: "Kevin is getting tougher every time I see him. He has so much talent it's almost scary to think about how good he'll be next season. He has it all."
Reid's fine too lenient
On Monday, the NBA fined New York Knicks forward J. R. Reid $10,000 and suspended him for two games for the vicious elbow to the face of A. C. Green, a flagrant foul that cost the Phoenix Suns forward two of his teeth.
On Wednesday, the league fined Jordan and Charles Barkley $10,000 each for missing media sessions during All-Star Weekend.
That Barkley and Jordan got fined is no surprise, because Jordan was fined the same amount for missing sessions before the 1993 All-Star Game.
But fining Reid the same amount is absurd. The NBA said that Reid's fine was the most ever for an elbow, but so what?
Reid should have been suspended without pay for at least 10 games and possibly for the rest of the season. Only then would Reid, who denied the blow even though tapes of the play were quite clear, take the incident seriously.
People on the street could get arrested for such actions, and Reid's punishment amounts to a mini-vacation and a minor dent in his pocket.
Around the league
With its recent trades, the Miami Heat has had 22 players on its roster this season. The Philadelphia 76ers have had 24. The NBA record is 25. . . . In eight games before last night, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Danny Ferry was averaging 19.6 points and shooting 48.9 percent from three-point range. . . . Golden State guard Latrell Sprewell, who caused some of the problems with the Warriors last season, was named co-captain after Tim Hardaway was traded to Miami. "His whole attitude this year and the way he has approached things had been remarkable," coach Rick Adelman said. . . . The Kings, in tribute to the traded Walt Williams, pulled their socks up high in Williams' trademark style before last Friday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.
Quote of the week
From Jeff Turner, who was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Vancouver Grizzlies last week (Turner had a bad knee that will keep him out the rest of the season, and is expected to retire):
"I haven't had much contact with Vancouver. I called and told them where to send my checks, and I asked them if they could
send me a couple of those Grizzlies T-shirts."