If you like basketball and you haven't seen the Dream Team Documentary (which was first aired Wednesday night on NBA TV), you're doing yourself a disservice. I can't believe it's been 20 years since we've seen these guys dominate the competition in the 1992 Olympics.
The documentary is a must-watch and I wish it were longer than 90 minutes. Without spoiling too much (to those that haven't watched it yet), the Dream Team members recall their Olympic experience and talked about the friendships they formed, the Isiah Thomas controversy, and the hard-fought practices they had. It was great to see some footage from their practices as well as some footage from their scrimmage against the College Select Team that included names like Chris Webber, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill.
I was reminded once again about how great these guys really were. Once again, look at the cast of characters from that team.
#4 Christian Laettner
#5 David Robinson
#6 Patrick Ewing
#7 Larry Bird
#8 Scottie Pippen
#9 Michael Jordan
#10 Clyde Drexler
#11 Karl Malone
#12 John Stockton
#13 Chris Mullin
#14 Charles Barkley
#15 Magic Johnson
While Magic and Bird were at the end of their careers, every other NBA player was at the prime of their careers. Robinson and Ewing were easily two of the best at the pivot. Not only that but their midrange game made them even scarier. Pippen was, of course, a defensive demon. Jordan was, well, Jordan. Clyde Drexler was the second best 2-guard in the league at the time. Malone was a brute force. Stockton's passing was second-to-none at the point. Mullin was possibly the best shooter in the league that time and was as good a scorer as anybody. Barkley was a bull inside the paint. And Laettner, the only college player, was THE best college player at the time, coming off back-to-back NCAA championships.
I was 13 around then... and I remember watching pretty much every game. And it was unfair. TOO unfair. The rest of the world was too inferior against these NBA players (and I always thought it was a pretty stupid rule that NBA players were not allowed on the Olympics back then while every other country could send their own professional players). The Dream Team was just too fast, too strong, and too skilled. I had never seen dominance like that (beating Cuba by 79 and beating Angola by 68!!!) and I'll probably never see dominance like that again (as the rest of the world has caught up).
The influence was all too great. The Dream Team helped basketball go global. More foreigners started to go to the NBA. The rest of the world started to catch up to the NBA (Argentina won the gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics). Heck, my brother stole the Michael Jordan crossover spin move after MJ did it against Argentina in the Tournament of the Americas. I was definitely bummed out when the Olympics were over and we all had to settle down to watch the NBA's 1992-93 season.
Anyway, this post has been all over the place. But the bottom line is to catch the documentary when you can. In addition to that, find YouTube clips of the Dream Team and watch how good these guys really were. America can try having this Dream over and over (Dream Team II? Dream Team III? Really?) but the reality is that there will never be another team like the 1992 U.S. Olympic Basketball Men's Team. There will never be a team this good, this charismatic, and this iconic.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images.