After the 1992 Olympics, the "Dream Team" moniker was applied to every subsequent U.S. international team featuring top pros. Dream Team II was the 1994 World Championships team; III went to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics; IV went to the 1998 World Champs, etc. USA Basketball has been trying to get away from this moniker recently; however, that isn't likely to happen until a "Dream Team" loses (which could be a lot sooner than you think; see United States 85, Lithuania 83).

Sometimes, dreams turn into nightmares.

The United States is — or, rather, was — indescribably dominant in men's basketball. In 1988, a team of American college-age players lost to a team of Russian professionals in the Olympics, and that was a big upset. In 1992, the United States sent professional players to the Olympics; that team became known as the "Dream Team" and steamrolled the competition. The closest of their eight games was the gold medal match, a 117-85 win over Croatia.

In following Olympics and World Championships (which take place in the summer between Olympics), the United States continued to send professional players, but the games were no longer blowouts. This was due to the rest of the world catching up to the Americans, and to the fact that many top American players begged off the national team, hoping for a summer of rest. The culmination of this process was the 2000 Olympics, in which the U.S. defeated Lithuania by only two points in the semifinal. (More on this game is at the node United States 85, Lithuania 83.)

Well, that was the culmination. Until the 2002 World Championships, when the United States actually lost ... three times! The U.S. finished in sixth place, behind Spain and New Zealand! I personally follow basketball pretty well, and I can name only one player from either of those teams, Pau Gasol of Spain.

As I watched the U.S. lose to Argentina, the first loss ever in international competition by American professionals, I felt conflicted. Part of me felt embarrased for my country, while part of me was rooting for Argentina to kick America's ass, because the U.S. was playing so terribly. And that made me feel even more embarrassed for my country.

So what the hell happened?

Let's go to the experts.

"The easy explanation the NBA gives is that players around the world are catching up to those in the United States. Are they? I don’t like to think this way, but it seems that we’re dropping down to their level."
—Former collegiate coach Pete Newell.

"You can't just throw together an NBA All-Star Team like a Cobb Salad, then expect them to dominate internationally." — columnist Bill Simmons.

In his article, Simmons argued that the U.S. roster was fundamentally flawed, starting with coach George Karl. Newell, on the other hand, said that for various reasons, the U.S. has stopped producing capable centers, and the lack of a post presence killed the American team. (Links to both articles can be found at the bottom of the w/u.)

For the record, Newell is gung-ho about centers — he runs a famous "big-man camp" — and Simmons is a little crazy, though he knows basketball well. Still, their words have merit.

Here's the U.S. roster:

This is a weird team. The best players are either point guards or small forwards; the only true 2-guard is about 8,000 years old; and only two of the big men are legitimate scoring threats (Brand and LaFrentz, and LaFrentz is a perimeter player).

And that was the downfall of the United States. Baron Davis and Andre Miller would play at the same time, but neither felt comfortable at the 2-guard position, which helped contribute to turnovers and poor offensive sets. And when the going got tough, the offense had no outlet under the basket to pass to for an easy bucket, and there were few players who could create their own shots.

More glaring is the lack of certain players. Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan are true centers, but they were both nursing injuries during the summer of 2002. Kobe Bryant, Mike Bibby and Allen Iverson are all star perimeter players who have shown time and again in the NBA playoffs that they can carry a team when nothing else is working. The only similiar player on the 2002 team was Reggie Miller, and he's a flat-footed spot-shooter. (Plus, he's 8,000 years old.) Heck, even Chris Webber or Vince Carter could have helped this team, even though they're both total pussies.

And I would be remiss in not acknowledging the great performances by other teams. Argentina had been practicing together for nine months and played a perfect game against the Americans. Yugoslavia, which would eventually win the title, played a great game in beating the U.S. 81-78. And then Spain did it a third time, winning 81-75 in the fifth-place game.

So is the Dream Team dead? Will the U.S. win the 2004 Olympics gold medal?

Damned if I know. I'm still embarrassed for my country.


Thanks to baritalia for clearing up a rather dumb mistake.

The Dream Team is a term that’s generally used to describe the 1992 United States men’s Olympic Basketball team. How good were they? Well, let’s just say that during the 1992 summer games they defeated their opponents by an average of 44 points a game. That my friends, is what's known as a good old fashioned ass kicking.

The Dream Begins

Before we get started we have to go back to the 1988 summer games that were held in Seoul South Korea. Back in those days pros were excluded from the Olympic roster and the team consisted of the best players from the college ranks. After the U.S finished in third place and took home the bronze some changes were in order.

Starting in 1989 the powers that be opened up basketball to professionals players on a world wide basis. At first the NBA was reluctant to sign on to the idea but after some pushing and prodding from league officials they finally relented and a team was announced for the 1992 games that almost ensured that the United States would bring back the gold.

The Dream Players

For those of you familiar with the NBA you’re sure to recognize this list of names. Each one of them would go on to make the NBA Hall of Fame with one exception. We’ll get to that later.

Chuck Daly – Head Coach – Detroit Pistons

David Robinson – Center – San Antonio Spurs
Patrick Ewing – Center – New York Knicks
Larry Bird – Forward – Boston Celtics
Scottie Pippen – Forward – Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan – Guard – Chicago Bulls
Clyde Drexler – Guard - Portland Trail Blazers
Karl Malone – Forward – Utah Jazz
John Stockton – Guard – Utah Jazz
Chris Mullen – Forward – Golden State Warriors
Charles Barkley – Forward – Phoenix Suns
Magic Johnson –Guard – Los Angeles Lakers

It was also decided that one player from the college ranks would be selected to make the trip. The player that was ultimately chosen was one Christian Laettner from Duke University. He’s the only one on the list that didn’t make the NBA Hall of Fame. Ironically, he was chosen over one Shaquille O’Neal who would go on to have a stellar career in the NBA and make the hall.

The Dream Season

After some initial practices and scrimmages the team hit the road to play in a pre-Olympic tourney known as the Tournament of the Americas. After looking at these scores, I’m guessing it wasn’t as much of a tournament as it was a pageant to showcase the teams’ talents.

Game 1 – USA 136, Angola 57
Game 2 – USA 105, Canada 61
Game 3 - USA 112, Panama 52
Game 4 – USA 128, Argentina 87
Game 5 - USA 119, Puerto Rico 81
Game 6 - USA 127, Venezuela 80

From there it was off to the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The outcome was never in doubt.

Game 1 - USA 116, Angola 48
Game 2 – USA 103, Croatia 70
Game 3 – USA 111, Germany 68
Game 4 – USA 127, Brazil 83
Game 5 – USA 122, Spain 81
Game 6 – USA 115, Puerto Rico 77
Game 7 – USA 127, Lithuania 76
Game 8 – USA 117, Croatia 85

The USA took home the gold and there was much rejoicing throughout the land.

The Dream Continues?

With the 2012 games getting ready to start in London, England Kobe Bryant raised some eyebrows when he stated the team selected for this years games would have beaten the original Dream Team. I kinda doubt it and to quote the best basketball player I’ve ever seen play the game here’s what Michael Jordan had to say in response.

”For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done”

Amen Michael, amen.

Though 'Dream Team' has become synonymous with US olympic basketball teams, not too long after the time in which that use originated, it was similarly applied to the collection of superstar attorneys assembled in the legal defense of O.J. Simpson, charged with the murder of his wife and waiter Ron Goldman.

All-star advocates who made the grade included:

* F. Lee Bailey, known for his snub-nosed blistering cross-examinations
* Johnnie Cochran, with a reputation as a smooth and convincing talker
* Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard professor and appellate expert
* Robert Kardashian, who had been friends with Simpson for over a decade before the murders; Kardashian has since sadly died, and even more sadly has been eclipsed by the media antics of his daughters Kourtney, Khloe, and Kim
* Barry Scheck, a specialist in DNA cases who later founded the Innocence Project, to use new DNA technology to free the wrongfully convicted
* Robert Shapiro, known for representing movie stars and athletes

The general consensus is that these lawyers ran rings around the prosecution. At the end of the day, O.J. was acquitted of the murders, and the only person convicted of a crime in relation to the case was LAPD officer Mark Fuhrman, convicted of perjury for lying on the stand about his use of racial slurs.

Notably, when O.J. was tried for armed robbery a decade and a half later (when he tried to forcibly retrieve memorabilia from some dealers in a hotel room), none of his Dream Team lawyers participated in his defense. O.J. was convicted of this crime, and now sits in jail at least until 2017.

Incidentally, before the term was used for either lawyers or basketballers, a 1989 movie titled "The Dream Team" starred a just-pre-Batman Michael Keaton, along with Christopher Lloyd, Peter Boyle, and Stephen Furst (almost unrecognizable from his most famous role, that of Flounder in Animal House), with the four playing psychiatric patients with various delusions stranded in New York after witnessing a crime while on a field trip to see a baseball game. The film was critized as being underwhelming, and performed accordingly.

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