Re-Living The Dream Team Is Pure Gold

Dirk Nowitzki of Germany and Tony Parker of France have been named MVPs of the NBA Finals. Yao Ming of China and Andrea Bargnani of Italy have been the No. 1 pick in the draft. Manu Ginobili of Argentina and Pau Gasol of Spain are perennial All-Stars.

None of it would have been possible without The Dream Team.

They not only won the gold medal as the marquee attraction at the Barcelona Olympics, but also lifted basketball to a place of prominence globally and opened the gates for today’s flood of international stars.

That is the message delivered by the 90-minute documentary debuting Wednesday night on NBA TV (9 p.m. ET) that chronicles the tale of the 11 Hall of Famers – led by Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan – who took the basketball world by storm in 1992.

Along, of course, with confirmation that Charles Barkley is one pretty entertaining fellow.

The film follows the Dream Team from the spark of its origin inside the competitive spirit of Magic, who sold the notion to Bird and a reluctant Jordan, all the way through the poignant victory ceremony following the gold medal clincher over Croatia.

In between, executive producers Dion Cocoros and Danny Meiseles have assembled current interviews with all 12 members of the team in addition to international notables Toni Kukoc of Croatia. He became the victim of a personal vendetta by future Bulls teammates Jordan and Scottie Pippen en route to the gold-medal game. There’s also an interview with Herlander Coimba of Angola, who was famously elbowed in the throat by Barkley in the team’s very first Olympic game.

There is footage of the legendary loss to a team of college players led by Chris Webber and Bobby Hurley on the first day of pre-Olympic practice that Mike Krzyzewski, then an assistant coach, now says was a tactical ploy by Team USA coach Chuck Daly to “throw” the game in order to get his players’ attention and respect. There is also a frank discussion of the controversial decision to leave All-Star guard Isiah Thomas off the Dream Team at the wish of Jordan and others.

“A lot of these things, we all kind of heard these stories,” Cocoros said. ” ‘Hey, I heard they lost to the select team. Did they really have these intense practices?’ To show it takes it to the next level. A lot of this has been discussed for 20 years but never seen.”

Barkley, as usual, is often the showstopper and scene-stealer, as when the topic is raised whether Daly would be able to control the larger-than-life personalities and the huge egos of the team.

“He coached the Bad Boys,” Barkley said. “If he can coach those (bleeps), he can coach anybody.”

It is a tale of career-long rivalries and blood-feuds transformed into bonding and friendships, as players who battled for years to beat each other grew to respect and enjoy each other’s company. But not before Magic and Jordan had to go head-to-head, nose-to-nose on the practice court to determine ownership of the team.

“He didn’t want to relinquish his hold from the ‘80s even though it was the ‘90s,” said Jordan.

“He’s a young puppy. I’m the big dog,” said Magic.

Jordan prevailed, but in the end the pair of superstars together forged the steely will of an unmatched team on the court and in the public eye.

There are scenes of Barkley in the role of the Pied Piper, strolling through the crowded nighttime streets of Barcelona, leading an entourage that numbered in the hundreds. There is a priceless scene of John Stockton strolling with his wife, two children and a video camera on his shoulder through the daytime streets and going totally unrecognized.

There are golden nuggets of new information, shining jewels of game highlights and poignant gems of reflected memory from a different time when they re-made the game and took it to the whole wide world.

“If this was the end, this was the way I wanted to go out,” said Magic.

“Nothing in my life ever felt like standing on that podium,” said Barkley.

For once, even Chuck wasn’t joking.

30 Comments

  1. Evan says:

    Watching this show gave me goosebumps, and brought back a flood of memories of that whole Dream Team experience. From the moment they announced that the pros were going to play basketball at the Olympics to this day, it was and is still mesmerizing. Thank you NBATV for this wonderful treat. This team will never be matched.

  2. dennis says:

    laettner is there coz he’s white………..agree!!!!

  3. ko0kie says:

    I love watching the nba finals.. but I cannot wait until the London Okympics to see the next Team USA play.. it’s a pity that we will miss a lot of good players like drose, howard and aldridge.. did i miss somebody? hopefully “at least” LeBron, KD, Kobe and Melo will be playing..

  4. Belgian Blue says:

    This was truly the dream team because despite greater talents emerging afterwards, there was never a crop of two generations that produced such a quantity of star players. Indeed, if thomas was in the mix, this would have probably been the best team one could have constructed during any timeframe in the history of the NBA. Though players before and after are as good or better than these players, you would never be able to make such a complete team again. Shaquille had his chance on a later dream team and proved himself unworthy. He would have been of no more use than Laettner. It is indeed a pity they never got to face a complete yugoslavian team, since that’s the only team that could have remotely made it a close game. Don’t forget Croata and szerbia both had a guy or three that could match the star level of the NBA, but unless you combine the two as they were under the Yugoslavian flag, you can’t even come close to matching the depth of the Dream team. The fact that these players only had to perform for 25-30 minutes max and you had a star team on the court the whole game, rested and fit, made it impossible to beat. That’s where future attempts failed. They lacked the depth of this team.

  5. SPURSFAN says:

    i think the dream team wouldn’t have a chance against jordan’s bobcats XD

  6. TColemens says:

    Bill Russell is the greatest NBA Champion of all-time!!!!! DO NOT FORGET THAT!!!!!!!

  7. shanydawg says:

    The “Dream Teams” that came after the 1st one were substandard for 2 reasons…. 1) they weren’t as talented, and 2) because of the Dream Team I’s run away success, they thought just showing up was good enough. They figured out last olympics that it isn’t and actually applied themselves and brought honor and gold back to US Basketball.

  8. Dan says:

    Laettner made perfect sense for that team, he was willing to be the low man on the totem pole without any ego getting in the way. Makes more sense than getting another NBA player. Or Shaq.

  9. Shame!! says:

    Christian Laettner is so lucky to have made the team even though he wasn`t great but dude got game man..such a shame that he was in a bad team if he was in a good team that want to build around him he would have become a perrenial all-star like chris bosh..but for him this experience is one or the most memorable of his career because he was in the team that the whole world knows as the GREATEST OF ALL TIME and he lives to tell the stories of his experience to his family and friends…

  10. Pete says:

    That fact that they snubbed Isiah Thomas is the biggest smear on this team……As a Pistons fan I lost alot of respect for this “dream team”…SMH

  11. Alek says:

    They were lucky because the Yugoslavian Dream Team wasn’t there. I am not saying that they culd loose but you never know. Remember how many dream teams loose after. (Srerbia; Argentina!!!). They had some trouble with just one part – Croatia.
    Djordjevic; Petrovic; Kukoc; Radja; Divac (Danilovic;; Zdovc; Paspalj etc).

    • k330k says:

      No Alek. The Dream Team would not have lost. Heck, the Croatian team lost by 32 points.

    • k330k says:

      Sorry but the Yugoslavian team would’ve lost just as badly as Croatia. Heck, Croatia lost by 32 points. Besides, like Ewing said in the documentary, none of the following USA teams were as good as the original Dream Team.

    • Jonga says:

      Nothing couldve beat that dream team – if ur yugoslavian team had troubles with croatia, they would have been absolutely no match for the 11 Hall of Famers and that one college kid

      • Belgian Blue says:

        Jonga, don’t comment on things you don’t understand. Croatia was part of Yugoslavia. The fact is that the split of yugoslavia was also a split of a very talented team, since both croatia and szerbia still had fantastic teams afterwards. The combination of both would have given the team incredible depth and made more of a match for the dream team than any other of the time. As alek also indicated, its unlikely they would have beat the dream team, but at least there would have been one game that could have gone down to the wire.

  12. Mauricio says:

    I still think that Shaq would have been a better player and person if he was used as the “university guy” instead of Laetner.
    Maybe today it would have been less funny, but that could maybe make him a better shaq-and-penny duo back then.

  13. LOLaker says:

    Lebron James is the best player in that team

  14. Pete says:

    Shaq, not Laettner should have been on the team.

  15. Pete says:

    Shaq should have made the team, not Laettner.

  16. Toney Q. Cobb says:

    can’t wait to see this tonight…IMO it was a travesty to leave Isaiah Thomas off this team and Laatener had no business on it

  17. anonymoose says:

    its not going to air in my country. i hope its available in NBA.com later on. And im glad shaq didnt make the team. hes not nearly mature enough for it and i doubt he is now after all the years.

  18. Dave the Brave says:

    I was 12 years old Czech boy and start watching NBA cause those days.Brilliant times

  19. e garcia says:

    to borrow a quote fro BRET THE HITMAN HART this DREAM TEAM is THE BEST THERE IS,THE BEST THERE WAS AND THE BEST THERE EVER WILL BE!!!!

  20. dream team is the best of all

    • DREAM TEAM #1 says:

      Dream team is the best. i most excited they so good. and the best thing is the boxes of cereals that they are on. all over. i just eat and see them there on the boxes. it like they are having breakfast with me. jsut sitting with me. they my friends and i like them. they dont even try to eat my cereal. they just sit there. with me.