Why Michael Jordan didn’t return for 1996 Atlanta Olympics

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For all the celebration of the 1992 Dream Team, there were few reports in major media about Michael Jordan potentially returning for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

After the U.S. roster of 12 was announced for the Centennial Games, Jordan explained why he passed: to let others get their chance at a gold medal.

USA Basketball officials don’t recall any discussions about Jordan being part of the second Olympic Dream Team (or Dream Team III, if you count the 1994 World Championship squad, which many would rather forget).

It’s not surprising.

For one, Jordan considered declining the 1992 Olympic invitation. In part because he “had done the Olympic thing before,” taking gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Games before starting his NBA career.

In January 1993, The New York Times reported that Jordan, if he had to do it over again, would have passed on the Olympics. It noted the commitment taking up a large chunk of what would normally be offseason rest.

“I think it’s going to be easy to get guys to play, but your top players, it may be a different story,” Jordan said, according to the report on 1994 World Championship team selection. “I don’t know if the clubs will want them to do it. You see those of us who played getting the nagging injuries, getting banged up so early in the season. You have to give some of that to playing in the Olympics.”

Whether Jordan would consider playing for Team USA again was rendered temporarily meaningless later in 1993, when he retired from basketball and then took up baseball.

Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls in March 1995. That summer, as Jordan prepared to film “Space Jam,” the first 10 members of the 1996 Olympic team were announced, including four returnees from 1992:

John Stockton
Penny Hardaway

Reggie Miller
Scottie Pippen
Grant Hill
Glenn Robinson*
Karl Malone
David Robinson
Shaquille O’Neal
Hakeem Olajuwon
*Replaced by Gary Payton due to injury.

DREAM TEAM: Why Isiah Was Left Off | Jordan Nearly Said No | Roster Decisions
The Kukoc Game | MJ’s 1996 Olympic Choice

In the Dallas Morning News story first reporting those invites, this line in the 14th paragraph confirmed what was made clear by the list: Jordan had indicated he didn’t want to participate in Atlanta.

Charles Barkley, another original Dream Teamer, and Mitch Richmond were the last two selections named in April 1996.

During the June 1996 NBA Finals against Seattle, Jordan reportedly questioned why Sonics star forward Shawn Kemp was left off the Olympic team. In doing so, he gave a peek into his reasoning for sitting out the Atlanta Games.

“To leave Kemp off, I really don’t understand,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “That’s one of the reasons I chose not to perform … to give people like him a chance to play.”

Jordan did reportedly visit Atlanta during the Centennial Games — to address some 500 guests of Sara Lee, which sponsored Jordan and the Games, traveling under the alias “Frank Gordon.”

“I kind of miss [the Olympics],” Jordan said then, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I stand by my reasons for passing it up to let other players experience it.”

MORE: Michael Jordan’s note to Bobby Knight before 1984 Olympic final

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Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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