Originally published Aug. 5, 1992.
BADALONA, Spain — It will be a strange scene Saturday, one that symbolizes the invasion of blatant commercialism into theOlympics. MichaelJordanwill take the medal stand, but not before rearranging the fabric on his sweatsuit to conceal a smallReeboklogo.
Such is how the great sweatsuit controversy was resolved Tuesday. The entire Dream Team, including those who balk at wearing theReebok-emblazoned U.S. Olympic sweatsuit, will appear on the platform after the gold-medal game.
ButJordanand other dissenters, known to include Scottie Pippen and Patrick Ewing, have permission from the U.S. Olympic Committee to “wear the awards suit in a manner that does not reveal any commercial identification.”
The tradeoff is that players cannot deface the uniform or cover it with another piece of material.
“That’s fine. I won’t deface the uniform,”Jordansaid after the U.S. team routed Puerto Rico. “But I’ll wear the suit where you can’t seeReebok.
“I haven’t changed my mind about that. I have to do what I think is right. I’m a Nike man all the way.”
Jordanthen asked for suggestions about how to wear the suit. One reporter told him to unzip the jacket halfway and turn down the collar.
“Hmmm. Sounds good,”Jordansaid.
But while winning the concession, two players who had been vocal about remaining loyal to their shoe companies suddenly changed their views.
Karl Malone, who wears L.A. Gear, and Charles Barkley, who wears Nike, now say they will wear theReeboksuits without protest.
“We’ve had enough problems here,” said Malone, alluding to criticism about the Dream Team’s $900-a-night hotel rooms.
“We shouldn’t add fuel to the fire by not honoring this. It shouldn’t be a major issue. I’m with L.A. Gear, but it’s not likeReebokis plastered all over (the sweatsuit).”
“I’ll wear it any way they tell me to wear it,” Barkley said.
“I was comfortable with the old way. Let’s get out of here without any more stuff happening, all right?”
The decision was announced after a meeting between USOC officials and USA Basketball president Dave Gavitt.
IfJordanand others had boycotted the medal presentation, as they threatened last week, it would have caused embarrassment for all parties.
“All this has done is giveReeboka lot of publicity anyway,”Jordansaid.