During the summer of 1992, the NBA took center stage as the world watched the greatest team in sports ever assembled joke, pose, and finally play its way to the gold medal at the summer Olympic games. The team was named the “Dream Team” and it featured eleven of the NBA’s best players. Names like Michael Jordan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Larry Bird headlined the games and the play of Scottie Pippen and “Sir” Charles Barkley stole the show. After only eight games, the world of USA basketball would never be the same. Since 1992 two more teams called themselves the “Dream Team” and two were simply labeled as “Team USA” but one thing is for certain, International basketball has taken a step in the right direction thanks in part to the NBA and its Dream Team era. Over time the faces of those players may have changed, but the goal has always stayed the same and that’s the goal of bringing home the gold medal.
After dominating men’s Olympic basketball for years, the men’s USA basketball team lost to the USSR in the 1988 Seoul games which cost them a shot at winning the gold medal, but they did come home with the bronze. The United States Olympic committee decided that since the rest of the world were sending their best players into the Olympic games that when it came to basketball it was time for them to do the same. The decision was made in 1989 to allow players from the NBA to represent their country in the 1992 Barcelona games. That one decision was the most important decision in the history of international basketball with one goal in mind; to put together the best possible team that they could.
The goal of putting a great basketball team of NBA players together seemed impossible especially when it came to dealing with the egos of today’s athletes, but what seemed impossible became a reality. Established veterans like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and future Hall of Famers/MVP’s like Michael Jordan and best friend Charles Barkley were added to the team. Big men David Robinson and Patrick Ewing were added to control the paint and guards Clyde “The Glide” Drexler and John Stockton were added to run the show. The man picked to coach the team was Chuck Daly who had won two of the last three NBA Championships with the Detroit Pistons. Knowing that no other team would ever be as potentially great as this one, sportswriters around the world dubbe...
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...could secure an 85-83 win, but only after Lithuania’s game winning shot fell short at the buzzer (Games).
Even though Team USA wasn’t as star-studded as the previous two Olympic teams, they still achieved the goal of winning a gold medal, but the path that they took to get there was much tougher than the path of teams in the past. With that being said, Team USA helped the United States Men’s basketball program to reach 109 wins with only two losses spread across 14 different Olympic games.
Despite the fact that the era and aura of the Dream Team was destroyed, the memories of the games will live on forever. Names like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Vince Carter will always be remembered for having great NBA careers, but also for bring home the gold medal for their country and doing it with a class and a grace that will never be seen again.
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The Dream Team: Simply the Best. Videocassette. Xenon Entertainment Group,
1997. 73 min.
USA Basketball: “96 Olympic Gold.” Videocassette. CBS FOX Video Sports, 1996.