You were born in a small town. You were born in the USA. You're a love-it-or-leave-it kind of guy. You buy only American. You know the pride is back. Why ask why?
You could be like George Foreman in Mexico City in 1968, doing a little victory dance and waving a tiny American flag. You could be like Jim Craig in Lake Placid in 1980, cloaked in victory, sweat and old glory.
Your bumbling agent, Bob (Sound Bite) Woolf, yesterday told the world that you had officially accepted a spot on the 1992 US Olympic squad. You amended the good news when you told Woolf that it wasn't an official invite, and that you still weren't sure you'd go through with it. You had Old Sound Bite backpedaling all over town.
Too bad. Everybody back here was pretty excited about the whole thing. The Celtic brass seemed to be in favor, and Boston's basketball fans saw this as an indicator that you feel good about your back. In this corner, we were kind of wondering whether Olympic coach Chuck Daly would let you wear your black hightops.
This is the first time that pro basketball players are eligible for Olympic competition, and for a couple of years, you've stated that you'd decline the invitation.
You've always said it would be more fair if a younger player went in your place. Now it sounds like you're hedging.
Maybe you changed your mind when you were lying in bed at New England Baptist Hospital after your back surgery.
I like to think you changed your mind when you heard Michael Jordan's aloof announcement. The best player in the world informed us that he'll be working on his golf game and his investment portfolio when Daly takes the US team to Barcelona next summer.
Enough of the ambivalance. You should play. Let the younger guys wait for Atlanta in 1996.
You'll be 35 next summer, but if you're healthy, you're still one of the 12 best American basketball players.
Uncle Chuck needs you. The US team is going to have plenty of size and athleticism. When America plays Yugoslavia, we might see Magic playing alongside Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and Scottie Pippen. There is no question that our country will bring its best players to Spain, but there's only one basketball and Celtic fans are trained to know that the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. This is where you come in. Even when you can't shoot, jump or run, you make the other guys on the floor better. We know. We've seen this for the better part of 12 seasons.
You've experienced every other thrill in basketball. You played your high school game in the Hoosier state, a place where the gym is a house of worship. You took your underdog college team to the Final Four. You've won three NBA championship rings and you've got three MVP trophies rattling around in the back of your truck. You've been on the cover of Time, you're on the wall in "Cheers" and you're in almost every Spike Lee movie.
You have all the money any man could ever need and now you have a chance to play for free and win the medal that money can't buy. It means something to you. We know. For 12 years, we've watched you stand at attention for the national anthem.
There is one last, best reason to do this. This is a chance to play alongside Magic Johnson. The world deserves it. You could team up and make better music than the Traveling Wilburys.
A chance to play with Magic is too good to pass up. You have done battle with this great warrior for 13 seasons. It started in the 1979 NCAA final and it peaked in the NBA Finals of 1984, '85 and '87. You and Magic are the Williams and DiMaggio of basketball, but even The Kid and Joe D got to play together during All-Star games.
It would be hardwood heaven to see you and Magic picking and rolling, and running the fast break. And the whole world would be watching.
There's only so many step-back jumpers left in those crooked fingers of yours. Save a few for Barcelona. Find out what it feels like to have Magic feeding you the basketball . . . and what it feels like to hear our anthem and look up at our flag while you're standing on a platform with a gold medal around your neck.