25 years ago, the International Olympic Committee made the decision to allow professional athletes to play in the Summer Olympics. Players from the NBA made their first appearance in the Summer games, ultimately becoming known as the a�?Dream Team.a�?
What followed was a display of immense talent from the United States. The team that included some of the biggest superstars of the sport made a joke out of the race for gold in basketball. The U.S. won all eight games played by an average margin of 43.75 points. The biggest differential came against Angola, who they demolished by 68 pointsa��116-148.
The Americans also beat a very good Lithuania team by 51. The closest game came against Croatia, only winning by 32. Previously they had played the Croats in the second game of qualifying, winning that contest by one more pointa��103-70. The other victims were Germany (111-68), Brazil (127-83), Spain (122-81) and Puerto Rico (115-77). This team of NBA players left their victims in awe. Only Christian Laettner was the sole collegiate amateur on the squad.
So who made up this a�?supera�? team? Try these names on for size:
- David Robinson
- Patrick Ewing
- Larry Bird
- Scottie Pippen
- Michael Jordan
- Clyde Drexler
- Karl Malone
- John Stockton
- Chris Mullin
- Charles Barkley
- Magic Johnson
That’s a big YIKES. Never before or since has that much talent been on the court, putting on a show like these men did. From the outset, anyone who knows basketball knew this would be an awful joke. In the end, it became a playground affair. And almost Harlem Globetrotter-esque. The guys from the NBA realized their opponents were WAY in over their heads. So they started getting cute on the court, turning the hardwoods of the Olympics into their own personal playground by pulling out any tricks they could muster.
Olympic men’s’ basketball began competing with the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germanya��the competition made famous by Jesse Owens’ efforts in front of Adolph Hitler. The U.S. won that first gold with Canada finishing with the silver and Mexico the bronze. The Americans would not lose the gold until exactly 36 years later in the final game which would become the most controversial in Olympic history.
In 1972, the Soviet Union won the gold. But at the end of the game with the score so close, there was massive confusion regarding timeouts. Ultimately, the Russians were granted an extra few seconds that allowed them to throw the ball far down court for a game-winning basket. The United States was so upset, they failed to show up for their silver medal ceremony the next day. To this day, all the men on that roster have refused to accept their medals. And rightly so. You can watch the final moments of the game below and see the disaster unfold.
The U.S. returned in 1976 to claim what should have been theirs as the Russians finished thirda��this time behind Yugoslavia. By boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, the Americans had to wait until 1984 when again they would win the gold. Now it was Spain finishing with the silver. In 1988, the Soviets once again took the highest medal. And shockingly, the United States finished third as Yugoslaviaa��led by DraA?en PetroviA� and Vlade Divaca��took silver.
As Eastern Bloc nations have been support by their governments for years, they were deemed professionals. So beginning with the 1992 Olympics, the United States was permitted to send professionals of their choice. Thus, the Dream Team was born. That 1992 squad was incredible. That type of talent will never come again. But one would think any of the NBA pros would be able to have a cake walk through an Olympic Games. Not true. Since 1992 and the infusion of NBA players, the U.S. has, in fact, lost.
That Olympic loss was to Argentina (gold) and Italy (silver) in 2004 when the games were held in Athens, Greece. A team that had Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Stephon Marbury, Amar’e Stoudemire and Dwayne Wadea��among othersa��embarrassed the country. Since then, however, the Americans have not lost a gold medal. This streak spans three Olympic games.
But what about that Dream Team? In those eight games back in 1992, Charles Barkley was the leading scorera��averaging 16.3 PPG. Many others were also in double figures. This includes Michael Jordan, whose mark was 12.7. The numbers were probably not higher because these guys were too busy throwing the ball around to each other and letting everyone have a shot at the basket.
Chris Mullin, always the sharp-shooter, made 50 percent of his three-point attempts. Barkley and Jordan led the team in steals with 12 and 11, respectively. Sir Charles and Karl Malone were the leaders in rebounds with Barkley pulling down 50 and Malone 35. In the end, it was so much fun to watch that team on the floor in 1992. And of course, it’s a sight we will never see again. Need some proof? Watch below: