1992: The Dream Team

Come revisit the greatest team ever assembled in all of sports.
July 31, 2006

In 1988 the USA Mens Basketball team would settle for third place. Basketball was becoming a widely popular sport internationally and were able to defeat a team of all college kids. The best college players left early for the NBA. Soon this would all change when the rules would be changed allowing NBA players for the first time to play in the Olympics. Many people speculated at the time would a team of superstars be better then amateurs who care more about winning then money. One thing was for certain though, America wanted to dominate the sport it invented again.

They were dubbed the 'Dream Team' this is their story.

I remember being a Basketball fan in those day I loved the Olympics too and I was shocked to hear that
we would be sending NBA players against the world. Experts were talking about weather or not it was a good idea, and would our NBA players be good enough? I thought the idea was rediculous, of course the USA would destroy anyone at basketball I thought.

The most exciting thing about the Dream Team was the selection of the roster. Tryouts were held in the middle of the summer in Portland, Oregon. Coach Chuck Daly, who led the Detroit Pistons to two NBA crowns in 1989 and 1990 and then retired temporary, was chosen to be the choreographer for the greatest team ever assembled, though he would face hairy decisions about who would make the team. Daly and his staff decided on a roster of eleven NBA stars and one collegiate. Daly was an old-school NBA coach who loved tough defense, but also had no compulsion to make controversial selections. Thus, everyone knew from the start that Magic Johnson had a place on the team if he wanted one, even though he was HIV-positive. Likewise, Larry Bird made the team even though chronic back injuries would force him to retire following the Olympics. The other obvious selection was Air. After leading the Chicago Bulls to consecutives championships in 1991 and 1992, Michael Jordan made the team ( understatement of the year ! ). The others were Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Karl Malone and, Clyde Drexler, who led the Portland Trailblazers to the NBA Finals.

You didn't hear about anyone not wanting to participate, even though a handful of the 1992 Olympians had already received gold medals as amateurs. You didn't hear about guys wanting down time or working on their recording or film careers.

The roster had some of the greatest NBA players that ever played.

Charles Barkley
Larry Bird
Clyde Drexler
Patrick Ewing
Magic Johnson
Michael Jordan
Christian Laettner
Karl Malone
Chris Mullin
Scottie Pippen
David Robinson
John Stockton

There was a different kind of buzz about the Dream Team, something special about them. They were iconic and larger then life.

Team USA cruised through its qualifying round with a 6-0 record. Now it was time to go to Barcelona. There still was some talk over weather it would work. Sure these were the best players in the world, but were they the best team in the world? If it lost, it would have constituted -- and I don't think I'm exaggerating here -- literally the biggest upset in the history of sports. But it wasn't going to lose. It was a superb team, highly motivated and prepared, matched against a field that couldn't hope to compete against it.

When they arrived in Spain it was like those old movies you see with with Michael Jackson or the Beatles on tour. The Olympic Games were overshadowed by the Dream Team.

"It was," said Coach Chuck Daly, "like Elvis and the Beatles put together. Traveling with the Dream Team was like traveling with 12 rock stars. That's all I can compare it to."

The team stayed not in the Olympic village but at a high-class hotel. They always attracted people's attention. When they got to the competition site, guided by police cars, even their opponent players requested to take a picture with them. Even Practices Made News

The team dominated headlines as well as the competition. Everywhere they went, the media followed. And the animated, trash-talking practices were sometimes bigger news than the games.

In their first Olympic game together, the Dream Team trounced Angola 116-48 and never looked back, going 8-0 en route to the gold. Opponents didn't have a chance, but they didn't care. One player, while trying to guard Magic Johnson, was seen frantically waving to a camera-wielding teammate on the bench, signaling to make sure he got a picture of them together.

They were the only undefeated team in the tournament, averaging an Olympic record of 117.3 points a game. They won their games by an average of 43.8 points and the closest any opponent could come was 32 points against Croatia in the gold medal final.

The games really were not that exciting as none of them were even in close contention. If memory servers me correctly there was one game that was close for a few minutes. Many consider it the greatest team ever assembled, in any sport. Yet even that description fails to give it proper credit for its impact.

The 1992 Olympic run by the Dream Team will always have a special place in Olympic history. As USA coach Chuck Daly said, "You will see a team of professionals in the Olympics again, but I don't think you'll see another team quite like this. This was a majestic team." No words could be truer, as the USA has not been able to repeat the true dominance in any Olympic games since.

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