Jump to content

The Dream Team - 1992 Barcelona Olympics Basketball Gold Medal Game: USA 117 - Croatia 85


DonRocks
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ahhh.   The Dream Team...over 20 years ago.  The most entertaining mismatch of talents of all time.  A spectacle:

This might be the best story about the Dream Team---when they competed against themselves; the competitiveness, the trash talk, the game described, blow by blow.

In a discussion here is how Michael Jordan describes it:

"Man, everybody asks me about that game," he says. "It was the most fun I ever had on a basketball court."

A fun read.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhh.   The Dream Team...over 20 years ago.  The most entertaining mismatch of talents of all time.  A spectacle:

People say that Isiah Thomas got hosed by being left off the Dream Team, and it turned out it was because Michael Jordan made it a condition of his membership. If Thomas had been a member, I wonder who they would have left off (my guess is either Chris Mullin or Clyde Drexler, not John Stockton). That said, it's interesting how "quiet" both Stockton and Karl Malone were in this final game, whereas both Mullin and Drexler had a pretty strong presence. In reality, Larry Bird was probably the "worst" pro player on the team because of his injuries, but you *couldn't* leave Bird off the team.

I think nobody got hosed more than Shaquille O'Neal - even then, casual NCAA observers like myself knew that, even though Christian Laettner won all the honors (and perhaps "earned" being a member), O'Neal was simply the better player, and not by just a small amount. To Laettner's credit, he stepped in at the end and swished both of his free throws, but looking back, not having O'Neal on the team stands out like a sore thumb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Neither Laettner or Shaq should have been on that team.  The jump from college to pros is significant with many unknowns.  On pure merit Isiah clearly merited it, but players evidently despised (not hated) Isiah his team, the Pistons, and their style of play; certainly Jordan, and as it turns out Magic turned against Isiah. (Man, there is a level of "vicious" extraordinary competitiveness at that status and I suppose it drives certain players to help them achieve the level they get to).  While it is clear that Laettner never reached an elite level in the pro's, Shaq's measure could be seen in full regard vs Olajuwon in the NBA finals in 1995, three years later.  Olajuwon was better....and at that time, Olajuwon, Robinson and Ewing were very close in rankings.  Shaq in '92 on merit wasn't at that "dream team" level...and the only case for him would have been to be the "college" member instead of Laettner; in either case a sort of "gift".

I recall Shaq in college.  During his first year in college he was part of what I think was one of the more memorable and watchable teams ever in college.  Shaq and another big, Stanley Roberts (roughly Shaq's size) were enormous and clearly talented.  They played with one of the quicker better guards in college in my memory, Chris Jackson, significantly better than either of them that year.  Between those three they exuded talent and that remarkable size, though as a team and against competition they didn't get to the peak.  But my goodness they were thrilling to watch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given the premise that a college player was going to be included Laettner was the right choice. Shaq later became in my opinion the most physically dominant big man ever but couldn't hold a candle to Laettner in college.

I would be very careful about that last statement - I remember thinking even then that O'Neal got hosed. Look at these college achievements - he was also the #1 pick in the NBA draft, and averaged 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds during his rookie year, which started just a couple months after the Olympics - he was pretty darned close to playing at the same level with the best NBA centers, even then (Olajuwon was not yet a US citizen).

This is a picture of him blocking a shot: post-2-0-83200500-1450994370_thumb.png (if you want the entire video, complete with gladiator music, it's here).

O'Neal college stats - Laettner college stats - O'Neal's got him spanked in points, rebounds, and blocks; Laettner had a much better free-throw percentage, but that's about it.

Laettner was an amazingly successful college player, however (though Bobby Hurley, Cherokee Parks, and company didn't hurt him - there were *four* NBA top-12 picks on the 91-92 team). Here's a video of The Shot:

You know who threw that pass to Laettner? Grant Hill.

Chris Jackson (later Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) is another interesting story - he had a form of Tourette's, and he said that before he left home every day, he turned the stove burner on, and when it had heated up, he had to briefly touch it with his finger until "it felt just right." He was one of the greatest shooters in history, and I'm pretty sure this mentality drove him to practice his shot incessantly - in the 93-94 season, he shot 219-229 in free throws, missing the all-time, NBA single-season record by just one shot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/28/2017 at 10:49 AM, DonRocks said:

The perspective of a documentary shot twenty-years later, in 2012 (it's a good documentary, and gave me some perspective and tidbits that I never knew before):

Thanks.  I viewed it.  Its a nice retrospective, currently almost 25 years since the event.  I love sports, team sports more than individual sports and the 3 events that remain most memorable in my mind are the '72 Olympic loss in the finals to the Russians, the '80 Olympic Miracle on Ice when the US team upset a great Russian team, the '92 Dream Team.

(that perspective is revealing ;) )

The Dream Team was so overwhelmingly dominating and it changed the nature of international basketball for all time.  The popularity of that game escalated basketball as an international sport "forever more".  International players across the globe are remarkably better and there will probably never be such a dominant performance as in '92.

The '92 team featured 11 players that made the basketball Hall of Fame.  That alone is remarkable. 11 extraordinary stars melded together into one team.

The story is terrific tracking the history behind the NBA pro's joining the Olympics, the formation of the team with its members and the initial reluctance of the star of stars, Michael Jordan to be a part of this group.  Is the background, as told, of the formation of the team accurate or a "made for TV saga" as it falls into place so beautifully.  I do recall that period and recall they lost the initial game to the college stars.  I loved how the story behind the story unfolded with Coach K relating that Coach Chuck Daly "through the game" to enable him to get control of these stars.  Great little background to the saga.   It was nice to follow how the team evolved and ultimately jelled as ego's sublimated to the team concept.  During the entire run it was obvious the Dream Team played with an excellent combination of individual excellence and amazing team qualities.

So many great players on that squad, with the heart of the talent all roughly in their latter 20's early 30's roughly in the prime of their careers.  So interesting to see the ultimate practice game between Michael's team against Magic's team with both Bird and Magic acknowledging there was a "new sheriff in town"  (probably easier for them to acknowledge that in 2012 when the piece was made rather than in 1992 as the mantle of greatness was passed before their eyes in meaningful competition among the best). 

The Dream Team--The ultimate dominant team in international competition.

The Miracle On Ice--The ultimate upset where our rank amateurs beat the "best pro team" in the world

The '72 Russian Basketball Victory--The ultimate theft wherein politics usurped sports and fair competition.

Still fun to watch them all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...