Dream Team Eases Into Games

From Staff and Wire Reports

A day before its first game and presumed first step to a gold medal, the Dream Team held a light-hearted practice Friday highlighted by an eyes-closed foul-shooting contest.

Center Shaquille O'Neal, who Thursday signed the richest salary package in sport, did not attend.

An NBA spokesman said O'Neal, who will be paid $120 million over seven years by the Lakers, was out of town on family business and was given permission by Coach Lenny Wilkens to skip the practice.

Little practice, however, was likely for the Americans' first game, against Argentina. Forward Grant Hill confessed: "I don't know anything about them, to tell you the truth."

About half the team took part in the eyes-closed contest at the foul line.

"I won some money, so that's good," Hill said.


Croatia's Toni Kukoc may be able to play against Lithuania in a key opening game today despite a broken left thumb.

The Croatians feared Kukoc, a member of the NBA champion Chicago Bulls and the league's top sixth man last season, might sit out most if not all of the tournament after his mishap in an exhibition game. But he practiced fairly effectively Friday with the thumb taped.

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