INDIANAPOLIS -- ". . . And this just in. The U.S. Olympic basketball team, with Michael Jordan scoring 31 points and Magic Johnson handing out 12 assists, beat the Soviet Union in the gold-medal game, 102-68."

-- Report from 1992 Olympics That's essentially how the basketball world sees its future. Open competition in the Olympics. Magic whirling around some helpless Soviet point guard during the '92 Games in Barcelona.

Let's hope it happens.

The chance for such a scenerio very likely will come sometime in 1989, at the earliest, when a majority of countries gang up on the Americans and the Soviets to end that sham known as "amateur basketball."

Why NBA players and other obvious professionals will be accepted in international competition is simple: the game will be better off for it, even if the Games become a farce.

Yes, if the best NBA players -- or the best NBA teams -- decide to strut onto the Olympic playground, everybody else might as well run for cover. That 34-point spread in the italic teaser assumes the Soviets play very well.

But global basketball can only benefit from open competition, "the best going against the best," as the secretary-general of the international governing body, Boris Stankovic of Yugoslavia, put it here the other day.

The last time it came to a vote by the Amateur Basketball Federation (FIBA), open competition lost by 31-27. Next time, probably in 1989, Stankovic expects a reversal.

"I believe that is the sentiment," he said.

Interestingly, though not surprisingly, U.S. and Soviet officials are united in opposition to open Olympics.

The Americans say they want the competition to stay as close as possible, and that cannot happen with NBA players suddenly hopping into the talent pool. They have a point.

Even with teams of college players whose experience together was limited, the U.S. has lost just once in Olympic history. And that 1972 defeat was semi-stolen, many U.S. officials maintain.

Here's the U.S. logic: David Robinson, Muggsy Bogues, Kenny Smith and some guys named Harry beat the Soviet international team for the world title last year; therefore, an NBA all-star team, or the champion Celtics, would have made the event ludicrous.

"The Soviets," Stankovic says with a smile, "are against {open competition} because, with the American pros, it would take them 10-12-15 years to win a gold medal."

This is how much of the rest of basketball sees it: because the U.S. very likely always will have the superior players, we're gonna lose anyway. We'll at least get a chance to see the best America chooses to send.

"It's amazing," Stankovic said, "that we have an international federation of {so many} players -- and the best 300 or 400 are not there."

Stankovic also is amused by our amateurs getting their way paid through college and the Soviet amateurs getting their scholarships underwritten by the government.

"A hypocritical situation," he calls it, correctly. He and lots of other countries would like to eliminate it.

That would cause problems for Americans, perhaps a reordering of our basketball structure and priorities. It might even require an act of Congress.

As a practical matter, the NBA players might choose not to make open competition as glorious as Stankovic and his allies imagine. The NBA season does stretch close to forever, after all, which means that Magic and Michael will be booked from early October through early June.

But the world championships could be structured to fall during the 15 or 20 days the NBA actually takes off each year. Except for the Seoul Games in '88, the Olympics usually are held during the American summer.

The hopeful Stankovic said that the first global event involving NBA-type players probably would be the 1990 world championship in Argentina.

Open competition would create short-term confusion in U.S. basketball, if not terminal chaos. For instance, the present system works quite well. The colleges act as a training ground for the NBA; the NBA holds off signing the college players it drafts until after the Olympics.

Everybody gets some pieces of the financial and glory pies. That might change. Private money that helps fund our international schedules might flutter away, if there were no guarantee of an Olympic tie-in.

"Would the NBA be prepared to help fund grass-roots development?" wonders the executive director of the U.S. federation, Bill Wall. "We're sportsmen; the NBA is bottom-line. Should money be all there is? We don't know."

Wall also says that the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 would have to be amended by Congress, because the intent was to keep open pros out of amateur games.

Because nobody has any idea what open competition might mean, the international amateurs and the NBA are cooperating to find out. A team of Soviets will play the Milwaukee Bucks during October.

Maybe Milwaukee will win. Maybe not. Our Olympians usually beat makeshift NBA teams during exhibitions. Perhaps the Soviets will offer a better test than expected.

If the international rules are changed, the Soviets might allow their best players to compete in our best league: the NBA. That way, their Olympians would get the finest in pre-Olympic training.

Portland and Atlanta already have gambled on such a possibility, drafting Soviets in high rounds last year. The supreme Soviet, Arvidas Sabonis, apparently has undergone an Achilles' heel operation on one foot and also has been troubled by the other.

Even now, more than a year before the international vote takes place, compromise among American factions is being discussed. Assuming that open competition is inevitable, Wall and others are considering ideas that could accommodate basketball at every level.

One is to allow only Americans who have played on an international development team to be eligible for the U.S. Olympic team.

That would encourage high school and college players to keep participating. It also would allow Magic, Larry Bird, Jordan and other NBA stars to reign in Spain in '92.