Gerald Wilkins may have less fame and fortune than his older brother, but at least he knows how to travel.
Wilkins and his New York Knick teammates are in Northeastern Spain for the McDonald's Open basketball tournament, enjoying warm breezes off the Mediterranean sea and the pleasures of a city selected to host the 1992 Summer Olympics.His older brother, perennial all-star Dominique Wilkins, also has been overseas with an NBA team. His Atlanta Hawks visited the Soviet Union two years ago, suffering through uncomfortable flights and disappointing food.
"We didn't talk about my trip to Barcelona," the younger Wilkins said. "All I know is he didn't like his trip."
Gerald Wilkins, a shooting guard who was the Knicks' third-highest scorer last season, has enjoyed shopping in bustling Barcelona and is impressed with the new palau sant jordi that will host the four-nation tournament.
But he realizes the trip is far from a vacation. The NBA has not lost a game in three previous McDonald's Open tourneys in Milwaukee, Madrid and Rome, making the games more important to the Knicks than other preseason contests.
"It feels special, It's big time," Wilkins said Tuesday. "It's not just another game. We're practicing as if we're playing the Bulls or the Lakers."
The 17,500-seat arena is part of a huge sports complex in the hills overlooking downtown Barcelona that has been built for the 1992 Summer Olympics. A multi-purpose facility, it dwarfs most NBA arenas.
The Knicks open the tournament Thursday against Italian champion Scavolini Pesaro. It will be followed by a game between Spanish champion Barcelona and European champion POP 84 Split of Yugoslavia.
POP 84 has multi-talented forward Toni Kukoc - a second-round draft choice of the Chicago Bulls this year and one of the most well-rounded players ever produced in Europe.
The winners of Thursday's games will meet for the championship Saturday, while the losers will play for third place.
Knicks coach Stu Jackson, allowed to open training camp early to get his players ready for the tournament, is pleased with the early competition.
"The NBA has not lost in international competition and we certainly don't want to be the first. We're playing to win."