Watching Original Dream Team Was Like Living A Dream

In the early 90s, NBA fans would pay top dollar to see stars such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, John Stockton and several others on a regular basis. Jordan and Pippen were on the Chicago Bulls before their dynasty began and Bird and Magic had captured NBA audiences during the classic Lakers vs Celtics battles in the 80s. What drove the NBA at this time was seeing these great players play against each other as the season wore on and battling it out in the NBA Finals.

These great players often played against each other but assembling them onto one team that could play competitively was only a dream. Team loyalty played a bigger role back in those days and it wasn’t as easy for these players to simply jump from one team to another. Assembling Jordan, Pippen, Bird, Magic, Stockton, Malone and other players like Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley and David Robinson onto one team was something that didn’t seem very likely to happen.

FIBA decided to allow professionals to participate in the 1992 Olympics and the NBA decided to allow it’s stars to be apart of the experience. With one decision, Team USA would what was a distant dream a reality by constructing the following “Dream Team:”

Michael Jordan

Scottie Pippen

Karl Malone

Charles Barkley

Clyde Drexler

John Stockton

Patrick Ewing

Larry Bird

Chris Mullin

Magic Johnson

David Robinson

Christian Laettner
Even though Laettner was fresh out of college and had yet to play a professional game, the “Dream Team” was assembled and some of the NBA’s greatest stars were going to play with one another to compete for Olympic Gold. Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly would be named as head coach and his assistants would include Lenny Wilkins, PJ Carlesimo, and Mike Kryyzewski.

On paper, the dream became real and the team would create a cultural and memorable impact on the game of basketball.

A lot of these players had been rivals in the NBA but came together on the biggest stage for what was a memorable tournament. These individuals that came from different NBA teams played as one functioning unit and captured vast media attention with each and every game. Fans tuned in to watch these greatest players compete as one team and even though the games were often blowouts, seeing the “Dream Team” play was a surreal experience.

Even before fans had an opportunity to witness the games on television, more stores started carrying team USA merchandise and I’ll never forget how a local shoe store in my hometown, Nienel Shoes, helped sell shoes during this time. Nienel Shoes was a locally owned and non-chain shoe store and the salesmen inside were always friendly. The salesmen in there loved kids and one of the best selling points they used that summer when trying to sell sneakers was the following:
“These are the same shoes the members of the Dream Team are wearing.”

Not too long after that line was mentioned, Nienel Shoes (and I am sure other shoes stores) would sell another pair of sneakers.

The “Dream Team” would beat Croatia to win the gold medal to complete the 1992 Olympic dream and the different members on the team would go their separate ways afterwards. The “Dream Team” had accomplished their goal and while the same group of players would never share the court together, the legacy created would change basketball forever.

Other “Dream Teams” have been assembled for other Olympic games but the team from 1992 is the most memorable. Other “Dream Teams” would win gold but the team in 1992 paved the way for the NBA to expand into other European markets and grew the game from a global standpoint. More players from overseas started to make their way to the NBA and basketball started growing in popularity in other countries. Hockey soon followed suit by sending NHL players to the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics due to the success of the NBA players going to the Olympics for the first time in 1992.

The members of the original 1992 Dream Team have been retired for many years but the legacy created will live on forever.

 

 

 

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~ by jeffrsabo on July 29, 2012.

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