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USA Men's Basketball 2012: A few thoughts on the Dream Team


I don't think we'll ever have another real "Dream Team". I think we all have fond feelings about that group, a group of 10 guys at their peak, being led by two absolute legends who still had stuff in the tank still. Diana did a great job in her DB, that also quoted Yucca. I had a few thoughts about that team, about the documentary that was aired last night, and on the future of USA Basketball.

This is an opinion / editorial piece. No stats. Just some feelings.

The Dream Team:

  • More than just the roster (that you could still find argument with in some level), I think they had the right head coach in Chuck Daily. Losing the first game against the NCAA kids was a brilliant move that I don't think Lenny Wilkins (most career coaching wins), or PJ (the other assistant coach) would have done. I'm sure our own beloved Jerry Sloan would have done a lot more swearing. Phil Jackson more poetry reading. Hubie Brown would have taught too much. And Gregg Popovich wasn't even a coach back then in 1992. It HAD to be Chuck Daily.
  • In terms of length, speed, athleticism -- this team was in a class of its' own compared to all the other Olympic clubs. In fact, I think you could argue that this Dream Team actually had guys on their team who, if they never picked up a basketball, could have worked their way to the Olympics in some other sport. Jordan in longjump. Pippen for hurdles. Malone for some sort of throwing thing. Stockton for marathon (frequently held the longest endurance times for sustained run). And so forth. So right off the bat the Dream Team had amazing athletes; who were also amazing basketball players.
  • I think part of the roster make up was based upon just putting out the best players out there, and somehow hoping it would work. It was a risky move in that way, because they didn't build the team like the Current USA Basketball teams are made: for role and fit. There were no "this guy can flat out shoot" guys on the team. Bird is who we think of when we think of shooting - but he wasn't a pure shooting specialist. Guys like Jordan, Pippen, and Stockton all had range, but were not on the same level as a Mitch Richmond or Reggie Miller (guys who were on other Olympic teams). Mullin (Mullins, according to Jordan) was, but he didn't see a lot of playing time. The outside shooting of this team wasn't that great. Did it matter? No. But it seems to have mattered in some of the teams that tried to replicate the success of going "all-stars" vs. "good fit".
  • Defensively there were holes at dribble penetration, evidenced by NCAA Bobby Hurley playing like Steve Nash out there. But perimeter defense at the wings, and inside defense -- I don't think we'll ever see a better defending team. Everyone could defend more than one position, and everyone rotated / helped the helper, etc.
  • I think that the TEAM got the job done as a team when the games started. It wasn't just Isos, or Hero Ball, or whatever Kobe did in the last world championships. I think part of that was due to all the mutual respect they had for each other and each others' 'game'. I guess that's what happens when you make a team out of -- essentially -- the All-NBA teams from the last few seasons.
  • I think we feel like it was an Isiah / Stockton thing, and Isiah lost for political reasons. Realistically, outside of our own Jazz fan small market insecurities, Stockton was going to be on that team regardless because he was a 15 apg dude who played defense and hit threes. The real difference was Isiah / Laettner. The reason why they replaced Isiah with Laettner and not another NBA player is because you could not argue that there was a better NBA player left off than Isiah. They had to replace him with the token NCAA dude / 3rd C for a face saving move. I'm not Isiah fan, but I can at least admit that he would have played well, just not with Jordan. The Dream team still would have won the gold without Jordan. I think we know that. It was a political thing and a marketing thing. Sorry, Zeke.
  • Playing time -- I don't think we saw enough of our Jazz guys in the tournament, but let's not forget that there was a huge 92-93 Hang over for the Utah Jazz anyway. We weren't a great team, by performance, the year after the Barcelona Olympics.

The Documentary:

  • I guess I'm an old guy, and a guy who has been a crazy fan for decades -- as the majority of this documentary was a review of things I already knew. That doesn't mean I'm better than other people; it just means that I've been a crazy fan for a very long time.
  • That said, this documentary wasn't 'for' me. This was more as a review, and a way to catch up the 'LeBron' generation on how good this team was.
  • I think they spent a lot of time focusing on the spectacle, and had lots of shots of reactions to the team. I felt like that was a little redundant. How many times do we need to see random fans cheering when they exit their team bus? There were at least 8 shots of that, one of them in the final edit was even a re-play of a previously shown scene.
  • I would have wanted more of the one on one interviews (you know they talked to each player FOR AT LEAST an hour - but they asked Drexler only one thing in the movie). I'd be more interested in what they had to say, than watching random Europeans walk around with Barkley.
  • I would have wanted more of the 'never before seen' footage as well. That's the stuff we did not have access to before. There is a lot of footage. We only saw 5 mins of it, during a 90 min program.
  • There was also an opportunity to do a profile on each of the player (before they even got to the squad practices) to highlight their strengths, why they were picked, etc. Instead they rushed through members of the team to talk at length about Jordan's golfing schedule. (really)
  • I think they cut a lot of good stuff out in order to fit it into the 90 min time slot, so they could PLAY IT a second time right after it ended. Again, a marketing and money thing.
  • Those are just my thoughts -- you can WATCH THE WHOLE THING HERE (click asap, before it gets removed by youtube)

Future Teams:

  • Even the team that had Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and crew . . . well, there will never be a team with 11 HOFers on it at their peak.
  • The closest thing I've seen to the dream team were some of the Canadian Men's Hockey teams -- but really, Canadian Hockey is such a smaller thing than USA Basketball. In terms of spectacle, there was no equal. In terms of domination and talent disparity - that's the only one I can think of. (Save for some of the non-North American sports, like New Zealand rugby, etc)
  • We'll never see another group where everyone feels like equals
  • And we'll never see such crazy talent
  • And this may or may not have been an excuse to post an illegal link to copy written stuff. So, yeah. Stick it to the man.

Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section! Woo! USA! USA!