HOUSTON -- Soviet Olympic hero Rimas Kurtinaitis said Friday he was not sure he had the skills to compete in the NBA, but that it is, 'every player's dream all over the world,' to play pro basketball in the United States.
Kurtinaitis will take part in Saturday's 3-point shooting contest, a segment of the NBA's All-Star Weekend.
League officials invited him to compete against Denver's Michael Adams, Boston's Danny Ainge, Seattle's Dale Ellis, Dallas' Derek Harper, Philadelphia's Gerald Henderson, Chicago's Craig Hodges, Indiana's Reggie Miller and Miami's Jon Sundvold.
'I was surprised they invited me,' Kurtinaitis said through an interpreter. 'They invited me and my wife so I came. It would be nice to play here (in the NBA). It is every player's dream all over the world to play in the NBA.'
When asked whether he thought he was ready for the NBA, Kurtinaitis said:
'If you see me play against amateurs, I may look fast. If I play against professionals, I may look slow.'
It was then suggested to him that Boston's Larry Bird sometimes looks slow on the court.
Understanding the remark, Kurtinaitis did not wait for a translation before saying in Russian:
'But Larry Bird has a very good head.'
Kurtinaitis scored a game-high 28 points, including 4 3-pointers, in the Soviet Union's 82-76 Olympic semifinal victory over the United States. The Soviets went on to win the gold medal.
First prize in the 3-point shooting contest is $20,000 and Kurtinaitis was asked with whom he might share the money if he won.
'I'm not going to share a single penny with anyone,' he said.