In keeping with Washington's current political climate -- summits, glasnost and all -- here is part of a Soviet account of the inaugural McDonald's Basketball Open, held in Milwaukee during the preseason:
The tournament brought together Tracer Milan of Italy, the Soviet national team and the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks in a round-robin format. The Soviets split their two games, defeating Tracer but getting routed by the Bucks.
In an issue of the national newspaper Soviet Sport, V. Kavaliauskas wrote, "There is no point in denying that some of us European journalists had a secret wish: that either 'Tracer' or our boys would take and dethrone the famous professionals. But our wish would remain a wish . . .
"When the tournament ended as expected, with the victory of the NBA team, journalists were stormily discussing the final game in the press center. More often than not, they came to one conclusion: that the NBA hadn't pursued the goal of proving its strength -- it didn't have to -- and that it is time for us to admit the existence of a higher basketball 'caste,' formed from the best amateur athletes and owing to a carefully executed method of coaching and an intense playing schedule, standing at the top of world basketball." Do Lakers Freeze?
Had the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday instead of beating them, 98-81, it would have marked the Western Conference power's first four-game losing streak since 1979.
Even so, the mere fact that the team had lost three of four entering last night's game at Capital Centre against the Bullets prompted critics to speculate that the Lakers' attempt to become the first NBA team to repeat as champions in 18 seasons is doomed.
The three losses came to Portland, Milwaukee (which has already beaten the Lakers twice this season) and Cleveland. An Eastern Conference general manager added a twist to the theory that the Lakers have trouble on their trips east because they aren't accustomed to the banging they receive every night.
"I think they get intimidated by cold weather," he said. "They have to walk around with coats and gloves on and I think it really bothers them. I remember one year that they took a bus to their game at the Mecca in Milwaukee."
Of course, taking buses to get to games isn't unusual in the NBA, but in this instance, the arena was directly across the street from the team's hotel.Milestones
Tuesday night was also a big night for the Detroit Pistons. Besides ending Portland's NBA season-high nine-game win streak with a 127-117 victory, the squad climbed past the Chicago Michaels into first place in the Central Division. A couple of Detroit players with Washington connections played a major role in the triumph.
First, former Bullet Rick Mahorn scored 20 points and added a career-high 20 rebounds. Second, forward Adrian Dantley, a former star at DeMatha High, surpassed the 20,000-point mark for his career . . .
Although their fifth-place standing in the Midwest Division doesn't really reflect it, the San Antonio Spurs have been one of the most surprising teams in the NBA this season. After finishing last year with a 28-54 record, things started looking up for the Spurs when they won the lottery, awarding them the first pick in last June's draft.
Of course, the obvious choice was former Navy center David Robinson. Many thought Robinson would never sign with the team, but last month he agreed to terms on a mammoth $26 million package. Robinson can't join the team until the 1989-90 season. Right now, the pivot is being manned by Frank Brickowski. His claim to fame was being part of the deal that sent center Mychal Thompson to the Lakers, a trade that virtually ensured last season's championship for Los Angeles.
In the past week, though, Brickowski has had two 20-point scoring nights, including a career-high 27 against Utah on Tuesday, that helped improve San Antonio's record to 8-8.
"It's nice knowing that David is in the wings but right now we want to have a team that other teams will worry about playing," said Spurs Coach Bob Weiss.
San Antonio has another pair of notable performers. One is guard Johnny Dawkins. The former Mackin High star averaged 10.3 points but struggled throughout his rookie year. This season he leads the Spurs with an average of more than 17 points a game. There's also forward Greg (Cadillac) Anderson. The last player selected in the first round last June, Anderson has averaged 13.4 points off the bench for the Spurs. The 6-foot-9 forward also had a unique outing recently, scoring 31 points but grabbing just a single rebound.