The “Dream Team” of 1992 brought gold medal glory to the United States in the men’s basketball competition, and showed the world what kind of basketball talent resided in America. While the United States has always presented very good basketball teams, and some of their teams following the 1992 Olympics have been just as impressive, the 1992 team is special for one significant reason: they were the first team to feature active players from the NBA. Featuring the likes of Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson, the Dream Team showcased the best American talent from the NBA for the world to see.
How it Began
It was the first time American fans had gotten a chance to see their favorite NBA heroes playing with each other at the Olympic Games. Coached by the great Chuck Daley, the Dream Team did a lot more than win the Olympic Gold – they absolutely demolished all their opponents during the Olympic run. They won their first game by 68 points, which set the tone for the rest of the tournament. They went undefeated, smashing teams by 33, 43, 44, 41, 38 and 51 points on their way to the gold medal game. They won the gold medal game by 32 points against Croatia, capping off one of the most dominant team performances in Olympics basketball history.
No team came close to the Dream Team during those Olympic Games, and their dominant performances did not shock any basketball fans. Even if the team had contained one or two of those NBA stars, they would probably have gone on to win the tournament. However, when your team consists of a combination of some of the best NBA players of all time, and they are all at or close to the peak of their careers, you end up with something truly special. Seeing the likes of Jordan, Pippen, Johnson and Larry Bird playing with each other is something you do not forget any time soon.
One of the most incredible facts about the Dream Team is something many modern fans do not know: the Americans were initially very reluctant about the prospect of NBA players competing in the Olympics. Most of the NBA teams were not enthused about the idea of their players having to play in another high-profile tournament during the summer, given the grueling schedule they already had to handle for the NBA.
It was only when the team got together and started to play in scrimmages and tournaments that the enthusiasm ratcheted up to an entirely new level. Suddenly, everyone was on board with the idea of NBA players competing in the Olympics. The team warmed up for those games by winning the Tournament of the Americas in resounding fashion, going undefeated and beating Venezuela by 47 points in the gold medal game. It set the scene for what was to follow, and the world will probably never forget the 1992 “Dream Team” put forward by the United States in men’s basketball.