Most people have only been able to see action from the 92 Dream Team via NBA Inside Stuff specials, half time reports or a few YouTube clips here and there. Ballislife found and proudly presents six games in their entirety. Enjoy and be sure to read the history and notes under the videos.
1992 Olympics Gold Medal Game – USA vs Croatia
1992 Olympics USA – Angola
1992 Olympics Quarter Final USA – Puerto Rico
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1992 Olympics Semifinal Usa – Lithuania
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1992 Olympics Usa – Croatia
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1992 Olympics USA-Spain
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On September 28th, 1988, during the 24th Olympiad in Seoul, South Korea, the United States National Team lost for the second time in Olympic competition history, and this time there were no excuses. Unlike 1972, where a flurry of questionable actions occurred towards the end of the game, the 1988 US National Team was defeated fair and square by the Soviet Union. The seasoned USSR squad was led by future NBA players Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas Marciulionis (along with Rimas Kourtinaitis’ 28 points) against a band of collegians (and future NBA all-stars) David Robinson, Hersey Hawkins and Dan Marjerle. Up until that day, US college players were more than enough to be heavy favorites and secure the Gold Medal, so a Bronze Medal wouldn’t relieve the pain and it made it clear that the world was finally catching up.
A half-year later, on April 7th, 1989, came a important vote by the Federation Basketball Association (FIBA) that allowed for “open competition” meaning that professional players could now participate in the Olympic Games. The timing couldn’t have been better for the United States. Seeing American dominance not only challenged but defeated, USA Basketball got to work on a National Team full of NBA players. And in September 1991, about a year before the Barcelona Olympics, they came up with, arguably, the best team the United States could assemble – the result was ten NBA players, a who’s who of current NBA superstars and legends famous enough to be known by one name – Magic, Bird, Jordan, Barkley, Ewing, Pippen, Stockton and Malone, Chris Mullin and David Robinson.
I loved the Dream Team concept when it first came out. Most everyone did. You took 11 of the best players (except for Isiah Thomas) to have represented the golden age of NBA basketball and formed a team, as much dominate as they were ambassadors. You made team captains out of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the two players that dominated the 1980s an easily on most people’s list of the top-five NBA players of all time, you add unstoppable Michael Jordan, physical anomaly and never-muzzled Charles Barkley, the leagues best due in John Stockton and Karl Malone, New York pivotman Patrick Ewing, sharpshooter Chris Mullin, high-flying Clyde Drexler, Jack-of-all-trades Scottie Pippen, David Robinson and (blech) one college senior, and what did you have (even with a college senior)- the best team ever assembled. I loved it. I still love it and search for games in length.
As much as the Dream Team are used as a reference point for what US National have done in the past and will do in the future, the Dream Team wasn’t without controversy – from the selection, to the games, to the aftermath where teams that followed were only Dream Teams on paper, and “nightmares on the court”.
Isiah Thomas Snubbed, twice: There were a lot of players overlooked for one reason or another - Dominique Wilkins, Akeem Olajuwon, and Kevin Johnson, but there were good reasons those players didn’t make the team (only a scorer, not a citizen, too early) However, there was no bigger question mark thanIsiah Thomas‘ snub. At that point, Isiah Thomas flat out deserved to be on the team. Period. No way did Stockton deserve to be on the Dream Team over Isiah Thomas, not at that point of their careers, it wasn’t even close. On a team of iconic players, Isiah’s name missing from the roster was a head-scratcher. His best years may have been behind him, but so were Magic and Birds. Not only was Isiah snubbed from the original ten, but the committee was allowed to atone for their obvious oversight when the final two players were named at a later date. It just wasn’t meant to be, Isiah wasn’t named in the final two, and nothing short of a conspiracy was enough to convince the public.
Rumors flew that Michael Jordan secretly said he wouldn’t play if Thomas was on the team, and for as great and legendary as Isiah Thomas is, well, that’s Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen didn’t help to quell any of the rumors by labeling Zeke a cheap-shot artist and saying that he wouldn’t play on the Olympic team if Thomas was one of the two players added to fill out the squad.
Isiah felt snubbed also: shortly after being left off the team, Isiah and his Detroit Pistons visited the Utah Jazz. Zeke let the Olympic Committee (and John Stockton) know what he felt about not being on the Dream Team – Isiah dropped 44pts.
Then, in December 1991, some say in retaliation for Isiah embarrassing Stockton, Karl Malone laid Isiah out as he drove into the lane. Thomas laid in the lane, covering his head, and bleeding. Thomas ended up needing 40 stitches over his left eye, had vision problems and headaches for two weeks thereafter.
From FoxSports.com - “These conspiracies are hard to ignore #9. Isiah Thomas is left off the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. Isiah Thomas should have been on the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. He should have been on the team even ahead of Michael Jordan. Jordan won Gold for the USA in 1984. Thomas didn’t have that collegiate opportunity, because President Jimmy Carter pulled the plug on Thomas’ chance when he stopped the United States from sending a team to Russia in 1980.
Wouldn’t you think that a member of the 1980 team — and a two-time NBA champion still only 31 years old — would have been a rock-solid choice, especially considering the USA coach was Pistons head coach Chuck Daly? In this case, it might have been a conspiracy of one (Jordan) that left Thomas off.”
Barkley’s Angola Elbow: If there was one incident that was a blemish on Dream Team’s otherwise pristine image, it was courtesy of, no surprise, Charles Barkley. Barkley’s elbowing of an Angolan player was played over and over (pretty tame stuff now), but was counter to what the Dream Team represented – they were going to beat you, but they would do it with class. The maddening thing about it, the elbow was seemingly for absolutely no reason. The Dream Team was cruising in their first Olympic game. They were on a 30-0 run when on his way back on defense, after hitting a fastbreak left-handed layup, Barkley wound up and elbowed the Angolan player. Immediately, a technical foul was assessed.
Not only was this the, but the ensuing technical free-throw stopped a run the Dream Team eventually ran to 46 straight points (instead the run was 46-1, which is still pretty good)
Dream Team Derivatives: The 1992 US Olympic Basketball Team, the “Dream Team” as they were dubbed, was formed packed with NBA superstars that were household names even in countries where basketball wasn’t even a top-10 sport The Dream Team began as a phenomenon, filled with hall-of-fame household names that were not only fantastic ambassadors for the USA (except Charles Barkley) but respected legends that more often than not, were requested by their opponents to have their photos taken with them. Unfortunately, the name “Dream Team” has not been associated with such respect and class ever since that legendary team, and mot likely, never will. The 1992 was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, never will a team come together with such a call to action, nor will any team be filled with such iconic legends as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. Not only that, but you had the constant smile of Magic Johnson, the quiet and workmanlike Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, John Stockton, Chris Mullin. They all went about their business cleaning up not only on the court, but off it. For amazing as the Dream Team was, what they did for basketball in their short amount of time would not be maintained by future derivatives.
Whether future Dream Teams come home with the gold or not, there so called Dream Teams certainly aren’t comparable to the original squad. What started out as a great idea, has become to nothing more than unreachable expectations and a curse for US Basketball.
What I mean by this is there won’t be any urgency. Top players now are invited but deny the invitation because of marriages, security, minor injuries. Add to that the world is getting better – evidenced by the influx of not just good NBA players – but NBA All-stars