Has not achieved Christian Laettner in the NBA
The greatest show on earth
The countdown to the London Olympics is on. The hunt for gold medals starts on July 27th. Numerous athletes have become legends on this hunt because their path to gold was particularly spectacular, dramatic or curious. In the coming weeks, SPOX will look back on the ten greatest moments in Olympic history from a sporting point of view. Part 1: The Dream Team 1992.
LeBron James is brave. He, who will be one of the leaders of the US basketball team in London in 2012, says: "We can take on the guys from 1992. They set the standard back then with all the great players they had. But we did have great players too. "
He is right. Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love - that sounds anything but bad. Aside from injured Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard, it's the best the NBA has to offer right now.
But does this dream team have what it takes to become a legend in 2012? Isn't it blasphemy to compare yourself with the first, many say the only dream team? "That dream team back then was THE team. You don't want to touch that," says James' team-mate Wade humbly.
A line-up to click your tongue
Every basketball fan is humbled when he lets the line-up of the Dream Team 1992 melt on his tongue again.
Starting Five: Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing
Bankers: John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, Christian Laettner, Karl Malone, David Robinson
Laettner beats Shaq
Let's get to the point. This is by far the best team that has ever played basketball together. In 2010 the team that won gold at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona was collectively inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Also Laettner, the only college player in the squad at the time. He was a big hit in Duke and a potential future NBA star. But he was never really able to keep this promise. In contrast to the college player from whom he took the last place on the Dream Team back then - a certain Shaquille O'Neal.
Like Laettner, O'Neal would have only been a decorative accessory on this team, a side note in the shadow of the best players of all time.
Approval of professionals clears the way
The decision of the IOC and FIBA in 1989 that NBA professionals can now take part in the Olympic Games paved the way for the dream team. A little later began the search for a US dream team that would make the embarrassment of Seoul in 1988 forget. Back then, a college team only won the bronze medal.
NBA Commissioner David Stern described the response to the association's request to the superstars as "overwhelming".
HIV Shock Doesn't Stop Magic
Almost everyone was immediately hooked. Charles Barkley accepted as spontaneously as did Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. "I won everything else, so why not the gold medal," said Johnson in early 1991.
The shock followed a few months later when he tested positive for HIV. Magic ended his career immediately, but was still voted into the starting five of the 1992 All-Star Games by fans. Johnson had recovered so quickly that this game became a one-of-a-kind triumph with goosebumps guaranteed. Magic was back - and he was ready to go to Barcelona with the Dream Team.
Jordan is shy at first
The only one who was shy at first was Michael Jordan. He was in Los Angeles in 1984 with Patrick Ewing at the Olympics and had his gold medal hanging on the wall. Only a trip to Europe changed his mind. "I experienced firsthand the interest in basketball over there. It made me rethink," said Jordan.
So the "band" came together under the direction of head coach Chuck Daly and destroyed everything that stood in their way. "It was like joining Elvis and the Beatles, like traveling with twelve rock stars," said Daly, who died of cancer in 2009.
Barkley and the naked girls
They really were rock stars. Every time the Dream Team in Barcelona left the hotel, they were accompanied by a horde of bodyguards. According to eyewitness reports, this didn’t prevent Barkley from making the Ramblas party mile unsafe on many evenings.
He was also not averse to European femininity. "I remember when we got to the hotel in Monte Carlo, I went to the pool and there were women topless. I said to the others: 'Wow, they don't wear T-shirts here!' From then on we used to go to the pool after training, "said Barkley.
In Barcelona we also went to the pool, but the joy of it was a little clouded. "When we got to the pool on the hotel roof, there were ten people standing around with submachine guns. That was funny: girl in bikini, guy with Uzi, girl in bikini, guy with Uzi," said Barkley.
On average 43.8 points ahead
Actually, the dream team wasn't there to marvel at girls in bikinis, it was there to win the gold medal in basketball.
And how they did that. They were an event, a sensation. Not just for the fans, even for the opponents. "You can go home and tell your kids: I played against Jordan and Johnson and Bird," said Daly of the US boys' opponents.
It goes without saying that the Dream Team won all the games in the tournament - with an average advantage of 43.8 points! One of the victims was also the German team, which lost their group game 68-111.
Armor against "heroes from the video game"
The then forward of the DBB team, Henning Harnisch, recalled in an interview with the "Tagesspiegel" in 2008: "We were pretty perplexed before the game. You compete against such stars without self-confidence. Some of us have - like almost all basketball players in Barcelona - even took photos of the Americans. "
It was the same for all the teams. You weren't on the pitch to beat the dream team. They stood there to have been there. "There was an aura about players like Jordan, Magic Johnson or Larry Bird: They knew they were the best. It was like playing against your heroes from a video game," said Harnisch.
Robinson: "It was like basketball heaven"
The rest was the greatest show on earth. The Dream Team showed off their opponents without incurring their anger. They were just way too pensive to be mad at their tricks, no-look passes, and slam dunks.
"When you play with other great players, basketball becomes so easy," said Barkley, looking back. David Robinson added: "It was like basketball heaven." US coach Daly didn't take a single break during the entire tournament!
Dream Team brings NBA to Europe
Even if there were always teams named "Dream Team" at the following Olympic Games. It was never like 1992 again.
It probably couldn't, because without wanting to, the heroes of the past made it harder for the NBA stars of today. You made the NBA a big hit in Europe. Since 1992, the number of NBA professionals from Europe has multiplied. The competition for the US boys from teams like Spain or France has become correspondingly tough.
Magic vs. LeBron: "We'd Destroy 2012"
Finally, there remains the hypothetical question of who would win in a direct comparison. The original Dream Team from 1992 or the Dream Team 2012 around LeBron James.
For Magic Johnson, one thing is clear: "We would destroy 2012. We shouldn't forget that there were so many who had already won the championship in 1992. We all knew how to play together. It was a fantastic team, a fantastic time, and we've achieved fantastic things. 2012 will be outstanding, I'm looking forward to the team. But there was before and there will never be a dream team like the one in 1992 afterwards. "
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