By R. Behar
Many sports junkies like myself will most likely hold dear to their heart a specific dominant basketball, football, baseball or even swimming team. However, there is no argument that the most dominant team in the entire historical sports scene was the 1992 USA men’s basketball team; ‘the dream team’. Not only an amazing team, simply the team’s roster is regarded as one of the best ever assembled within the modern basketball era. Keeping in mind that the dream team didn’t only win a gold medal, we must acknowledge that they changed the global basketball scene for years to come.
The dream team was the first of its kind. Prior to 1992 no NBA players were allowed to play in the summer Olympics as they were regarded as professionals. However, soviet and Yugoslavian players who were paid to play could still participate regarded as amateurs. Therefore, the best American players were not allowed to play in the 1988 Olympics taking the bronze medal in 1988. Such accomplishment was nothing short of a disappointment. Motivated by the lack of results and public outrage, David Stern, the NBA commissioner, at that time worked with the USA basketball organization and Olympics governing body to negotiate the participation of NBA players in the summer Olympics. As we all know he succeeded. Such a change could not come at a better time, the NBA was stacked with legendary players.
News of the change spread quickly, and the USA basketball team quickly began to recruit the crème de la crème of the NBA. The illustrious starting five of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing, all future Naismith Hall of Famers, were to bring the world to their feet. The 12 players of the dream team roster combine to a total of 117 NBA All-Star Game appearances. Even more shocking is the fact that the roster combined for a total of 15 MVP awards and 23 NBA championship rings. It can be confidently ascertained that the USA dream team continues to be and will most likely continue being regarded as the most illustrious roster ever.
However, their individual achievements were meaningless compared to their team success. On June 28, 1992 Team USA debuted in the tournament of the Americas with a 136-57 blowout victory over Cuba. Finishing the tournament of the Americas with a 6-0 record they were bound to dominate in the Olympics. And so, they did. The dream-team had full scale domination in Barcelona beating the Croats in a 32-point victory for the gold medal. The USA basketball team beat their opponents by an average of 43.8 points every game.
The dream team’s complete domination at the epitome of the global sports stage was one of the great reasons for the globalization of basketball. It’s fame and popularity led to the practice of the game in many other countries leading to the globalization of the NBA. Nowadays we have many great international NBA players, including the likes of Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame the legacy of the Dream team will live forever until the game of Basketball continues to be played.
Results from 1992 Barcelona Olympics:
USA 116 x 48 Angola
USA 103 x 70 Croatia
USA 111 x 68 Germany
USA 127 x 83 Brazil
USA 122 x 81 Spain
USA 115 x 77 Puerto Rico
USA 127 x 76 Lithuania
USA 117 x 85 Croatia