Australia’s Shane Heal Vs Dream Team 3: Best Performance Ever Against USA Olympic team?
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The Team USA trend is to let teams (not from Nigeria) hang close for a half and then a player on the USA team will catch fire and hit a bunch of three pointers in a row, which will spark the team to win by a huge margin.
A week ago, we saw Carmelo Anthony go En fuego while breaking some records. Then we had Kevin Durant looking like he was back at Rucker Park. Then it was LeBron. Any yesterday, we had Kobe Bryant show up in the second half to score 20 points against Australia.
Watching Australia helplessly hope Kobe would miss a shot reminded me of one of my favorite shooting exhibitions I ever saw, which just happened to take place in a USA vs Australia game in 1996. But, it wasn’t a Reggie Miller or Mitch Richmond hitting the shots. The marksman that day was Australia’s 6-footer Shane Heal, who scored 28 points, hit eight 3 pointers and got into one chest-bumping shove match with Charles Barkley after Chuck undercut him.
“The thing with Barkley and I, it was just a dirty play,” said Heal. “You just wouldn’t expect someone to make such a dirty play against someone that’s in the air, anywhere in the world. He just took my legs out and I landed on my back. It was just a really dirty play … he just ran straight through my legs. You definitely don’t expect that and you don’t expect it from an NBA superstar.”
Unlike many of the NBA Jam-like performances we have been seeing recently, Shane Heal’s 3-pointers were mainly heat checks. Each one was more of head-scratcher than the previous as he connected on 8-of-13. But in the end, it was a 118 – 77 win for Barkley and his USA teammates.
“He’s a talkative little fellow” said Barkley after the game about Heal. “I told him that if I don’t take that off Americans I’m definitely not going to take it off foreigners.”
That foreigner would eventually end up playing a couple seasons in the NBA, along with two more Olympics and 15 seasons in the NBL, where he was an 8-time All-Star and once scored 61 points. But, it’s his performance against Dream Team 3 and altercation with Barkley people like me will always remember.
When recently asked about Barkley, Heal sounded shocked people actually do remember the incident.
“I idolized him. He was awesome. He turned out to be a good bloke. They were pretty arrogant, though, and didn’t have a lot of respect for us. We were looking forward to playing against them but at the same time we said we weren’t going to take a backward step. The Dream Team disrespected us and tried to bully us a bit and we stood up for ourselves and it got a bit heated. It was a lot of fun.I reckon someone would ask me about that every second day. It amazes me – it happened in 1996 – that people still want to know about it.”
Heal almost staged a sequel four years later, when he got into it with a pissed-off-fro-having Vince Carter in the 2000 Olympics, which just happened to take place in Sydney, Australia.
Here’s the amusing footage from my VHS Vault of Vinsanity and yes, I am Vincent Da.