We remember the original Dream Team — the pros sent to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and others — just rolling teams. The won the Olympic gold medal by an average of nearly 20 points a game and had the opposing teams asking for autographs afterward.
But a new documentary about the 20th anniversary of that team (to air on NBA TV June 13) also talks about and has footage of the game they lost.
It wasn’t a game so much as a scrimmage in La Jolla, Calif., against a group of college stars featuring Grant Hill, Chris Webber and Bobby Hurley, among others. The footage shows the speedy little point guard Hurley slicing into the teeth of the USA defense and carving the dream team up pretty good. However, USA head coach Chuck Daly had the scoreboard turned off before reporters were allowed in the gym.
Current Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski said he thinks Daly threw the game with a purpose. From the AP:
“He threw the game. You know, Chuck threw the game,” Krzyzewski, then a U.S. assistant and the current head coach, said on the documentary. “If you look how much Jordan played and how he subbed guys in, not picking up, not making any adjustments, he knew what he was doing.”
The reason — to let the Dream Team know they could be beaten. To let them know they were not invincible. But Daly would have had to throw it because no other team on the planet at that time could have beaten the dream team. They were as invincible as a team may ever have been.
I wouldn’t be nearly as confident that the Team USA heading to London this summer, 20 years later, will be as invincible. Thanks in part to the worldwide phenomenon of the Dream Team, the rest of the world is starting to catch up to us in basketball.