by Earl Austin, Jr.
NNPA News Service
It is hard to believe that we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of "The Dream Team" – the great collection of athletes in the history of sports.
Yeah, I said it. The 1992 United States Olympic men's basketball team was the best team ever put together in any sport at any time. Period.
If you are a basketball fan who happens to have the NBA TV network on your cable television, they are now running a documentary on the Dream Team on its 20th anniversary. The show began running this week on NBA TV, but there will be plenty of opportunities to watch it.
Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler and Christian Laettner. The names speak for themselves.
For years, we had heard the stories about the selection process of the team as well as the ultra-competitive practices between these superstars. Now, we all get a chance to get an inside look at these basketball legends from the moment they were brought together to the time they stood of the gold medal stand in Barcelona, Spain.
What a special group this was. I can remember in '92 when the networks came up with this concept called the Olympic Triplecast, where the games were shown on three different networks. You could purchase whatever channel you favorite event had so you could see all of them without missing anything.
Naturally, I got the channel with the Dream Team and I didn't miss a single second of them. I could not get enough of them. Neither could the rest of the world.
Not only were these the basketball gods coming to Spain, but they were the ambassadors of USA basketball spreading good will and the fundamentals that coaches have been teaching to international players for decades.
It was ironic that back then the only people who resisted the use of NBA players in the Olympics were Americans. Many people wanted to continue using the college kids, despite the fact that they were getting beaten regularly by the seasoned international professionals.
However, the rest of the world was ready to see the best that the USA had to offer. And we were obligated to give it to them. How else could you explain every opposing team posing with pictures and acting like wide-eyed school children after a 60-point loss to the Dream Team.
These men were idolized in every corner of the world as much as they were here in the USA. To be able share the same 94×50' space with a Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan for a couple of hours was beyond priceless.
The international basketball community was appreciative over how easy these basketball icons made the game look. Of course, there was plenty of showtime, but there was ball movement, passing, fundamentals in team play. The Dream Team represented the basketball values that so many coaches and players taught to the international players when they put on clinics around the world. The world listened, learned and brought its game up as well to the point where the game of basketball is truly a global one.
It was a magical two weeks of basketball that none of us will ever forget.
Now, thanks to NBA TV, we will all get a chance to walk down memory lane with the Dream Team.
(Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American)