Bibby, Malone expected to be added to Team USA

Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2003

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Sacramento Kings guard Mike Bibby said Tuesday he will accept an invitation to play for the 2004 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team, with Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz also expected to join the roster.

Bibby said he was told of the selection during a phone conversation with NBA senior vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson.

''I talked to Stu today, I'm expecting to be on the team,'' Bibby said.

Malone confirmed that he was interested in playing. Malone also represented the United States at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

''I don't want to put the buggy before the horse because no one has called me to confirm it,'' Malone said. ''It would be a great honor because I'm not just representing myself or my family, I'm representing USA, the Jazz and Salt Lake City.

''It will be pretty good after all these years to hopefully maybe be on the third one,'' Malone said.

USA Basketball spokesman Craig Miller said the national federation had no announcement to make.

Earlier this month, Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd, Tracy McGrady of Orlando and San Antonio's Tim Duncan were selected to the 12-man team. Kobe Bryant is expected to be added soon.

By choosing Bibby, the selection committee passed over several other guards -- notably Steve Francis and Allen Iverson -- who have expressed a strong desire to play.

''People have been talking already that I shouldn't be on it, but I don't care,'' Bibby said. ''It's a real honor to get chosen. It's a once in a lifetime thing.''

The team will participate in the FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament, held Aug. 20-31 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

If the United States finishes in the top three, it will gain a berth in the 2004 Games in Athens.

Bibby gained considerable respect a year ago during the playoffs when he averaged 20.3 points and hit several big baskets for Sacramento, which was eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games in the Western Conference finals.

His fifth season in the league and second in Sacramento has not been as smooth.

Bibby was injured in the preseason and missed the first 27 games following surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. In 27 games, Bibby is averaging 16.9 points and 5.7 assists.

Malone's willingness to play can be taken as a sign that the 39-year-old is not yet ready to retire. In his 18th season with the Jazz, Malone has team-high averages of 20.5 points and 8.2 rebounds.

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