By Jack McCallum
Published by Ballantine Books
Copyright © 2012
1992 seems like a lifetime away, and I guess it was if you are 20 years old. For those of us who can actually remember 1992 and were basketball fans even then, “Dream Team” is a treat.
Sports journalist Jack McCallum doesn’t chronicle everything about the ’92 Olympic basketball team and their games and victories. This is not a transcript of the play by play. What he does is give us is insight into how the Dream Team came to be, from getting the go ahead to allow professional athletes to play in the Olympics to the attainment of gold. In addition we get a glimpse of the past and present of those stars and we learn a little about what they are up to now. Jack kind of gives us a little basketball version of VH1’s behind the music. He provides us with the backstage access to one of history’s greatest basketball teams which included Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Christian Laettner, and Coach Chuck Daly
Now, there has been a recent claim by one Kobe Bryant that the 2012 incantation of the U.S. Basketball team could defeat the 1992 Dream Team. My only response to that is a gut busting laugh, because he must have been joking. Michael Jordan laughed as I did, and while admitting that the new guard may have a physical edge, they aren’t as smart. I would also venture to guess that there are few players today who are as competitive as the ’92 squad. Jordan, Bird, and Magic took competitive to a whole other level. Today’s players only care about personal stats and money; winning is secondary to the other two goals. I’ve read quite a bit about Bird (one of my favorite athletes of all time) and Magic, and through their words and this book I have come to a grudging acceptance of Jordan’s greatness. These three together just had a head for the game, they learned how to work as a team, they had a killer instinct, and they never shrunk from the big moment.
Basketball experienced a complete renaissance in the 80’s early 90’s and it culminated with the Dream Team. The Dream Team proved to be a boon for international competition, bringing the game to a worldwide audience and creating new basketball fans and players in far off lands. No matter how good players get, I find it highly improbable that any proceeding team could ever be as good as that one. This is a great read for the Basketball fan and historian.