BARCELONA ’92 OLYMPICS : No Matter What, Barkley Drawing Attention


The people love Magic Johnson, but the cameras and microphones follow Charles Barkley.

Barkley’s sneaker company trotted him out at a quasi-news conference Tuesday, an off-day for the U.S. basketball team. A fairly sizable press corps turned out to see if he had any regrets about abusing Angolans half his weight, or whom he might abuse this time.

The answers, respectively, were no and the press corps.

“It’s just a figment of the media’s imagination,” Barkley said of the Angola controversy.

Didn’t teammates criticize him?

“I don’t think they would criticize me. They know the media never lets the truth stand in the way of a good story.”

In point of fact, David Robinson, who was now sitting two feet from Barkley, called his elbowing of 175-pound Herlander Coimbra “a cheap shot” and “uncalled for,” and Michael Jordan said: “There just wasn’t any need for it.”


Said Barkley: “If they did, that’s their opinion. That’s the best thing about America.”

So he had no regrets?

“I wish he was a little bigger. But he might be like Manute (Bol). He might have had a spear, you don’t know.”

Tuesday’s “news conference,” with Ahmad Rashad as guest host, was held in a movie theater that the sneaker company rented for the Games.

Barkley, introducing John Stockton, who was also on the stage, said: “He’s our Chevy Chase--he’s on a European vacation. He brought his wife and kids and he’s done nothing since he got here.”

On NBA participation, Barkley said: “I don’t think a group of college players could have beaten that team (Croatia).”

On his clashes with the media: “I’m not going to take basketball that serious. I think that’s one of the problems I have with the American media. Their whole life is built around their jobs. My whole life is not built around my job.”

Ironically, the only official trouble for Barkley is writing a guest column for USA Today. “They (the International Olympic Committee) were concerned I was getting paid,” Barkley said. “No, I’m not getting paid.”


Having said that, he dropped his head into his hands and pretended to muffle laughs.

Said U.S. assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo: “I think there was also some concern about the literary content.”