One NBA legend who isn’t afraid of speaking his mind and challenging perceptions is (possible future Hawks owner) Dominique Wilkins. The Atlanta great isn’t afraid to piss off Jordan worshippers and let them know that he was cheated in the 88 dunk contest or that his crew of unappreciated Dream Team 2 members could play with any Dream Team including the original 1992 team with Jordan.
via Bleacher Report
I would have been on the original Dream Team, I’m sure of it. But I was dealing with Achilles problems around then. So they invited me on Dream Team II to be the vet, one of the statesmen with Joe. They put together a hell of a team. We knew going in that we were gonna beat everyone by 20—at least. Let me tell you: That Dream Team II could play with any of the other Dream Teams.
Not only are most people disagreeing with Nique but many of them are even accusing Wilkins of being a little too fond of his memories with Dream Team 2. That might be somewhat true but most of these people challenging Nique are basing their opinions off of everything but memory because they have no memory of Dream Team 2 and most of these players in the early 90s.
Like the opposition of the original Dream Team, these people are biased star struck fans that believe the big name legends (many hurt and many on the verge of retirement in 92) can’t be beat.
These are people that are comparing the game of players from 20+ years ago by looking at what they have achieved in the 20 years since they represented the US. What I mean by that is they will look at former #1 draft picks like Derrick Coleman and Larry Johnson who failed to reach their full potential and use that against the team from 94.
They will remember watching a fat Shawn Kemp or Reggie Miller never win a championship and use that against the team from 94.
They will think because Nique was past his prime and didn’t make the original Dream Team – because of an injury – that he didn’t have any game left.
They will think because Shaq and Zo were only 2nd year players that they weren’t already two of the most dominant players in the NBA, and everybody who watched basketball back then knew that Shaq should have been on the original DT instead of the never used Christian Laetner.
They will think because they know so very little about Dan Majerle and Mark Price that those 2 long-range bombers couldn’t have been perfect compliments to Shaq and Zo’s inside game.
They will think because Steve Smith was on the team….well, rumor is Smitty only made the team because Miami’s Billy Cunningham was on the selection committee. Moving on.
I’m not going to try to convince you that DT2 could beat DT – you can watch Smitty, Shaq and Reggie in the video above for that- but I want people to understand why they think DT2 couldn’t beat DT.
Both teams easily dominated their competition, but when DT was beating teams by 44 points a game it was like watching a Dad beat his son in the front yard as friends, family and neighbors gathered around and cheered as the son smiled every time his role model easily scored on him. When DT2 was beating teams by 36.5 points a game, it was like watching a bully beat up a kid at school in front of all of the teachers and staff members who had personal issues with the bully.
A lot of those “teachers” who loved players like Bird, Magic and Jordan didn’t care for the next generation of “bullies” that included Kemp and his crotch grabbing or Larry Johnson’s gold tooth smile, screams and intense teammate Zo. They didn’t care for Shaq’s rapping, rim breaking and hanging antics or the fact that Derrick Coleman believes he should be the first $100 million man. Not even the inclusion of good guy/bad boy Joe Dumars, Gospel boy Mark Price, pretty boy Dan Majerle or future mayor Kevin Johnson could make this group an acceptable sequel to a loved classic.
One thing most people don’t know about the selection process of the sequel is Rod Thorn intentionally didn’t want to use any players from the classic. The team also almost didn’t have their 2 biggest stars. Reggie Miller was the last player selected and because of Shaq’s deal with Pepsi and FIBA’s deal with McDonalds, Shaq originally turned down the invite. Pepsi and Shaq eventually gave in and McDonalds was allowed to use Shaq’s image on McDonalds DT2 cups filled with Coke.
While many opponents of the Dream Team waited outside the USA’s lockeroom after the game for pics and autographs and even asked for shoes during the game, DT2 was greeted by guys like Orlando Vega who took turns talking trash with half of DT2 and was even willing to get in the face of grandmama Larry Johnson.
This wasn’t the only incident like this. I can remember Zo pushing a few players around. I remember Derrick Coleman cursing out the bench of an opposing team. I remember Kemp with his trademark crotch grab that even upset Don Nelson. But what I mainly remember about these games was the team dominating how they wanted and when they wanted. It was as if Nelson was teasing the other countries by saying I’m only going to beat you with brute force this game, in the next game I’m going to let me shooters take over and maybe in the next I’ll let vets like Dominique shine.
The thought of losing a game was never a thought by the 2nd Dream Team but obviously from the way they are remembered today, they are unfortunately thought of as a team of losers and one seriously bad dream.