It’s been twenty years since “the Dream Team” graced the basketball courts of Barcelona during the 1992 Olympic games.
Now here in 2012, we can all relive the greatness of these 11 hall-of-famers in a special NBA TV documentary simply entitled “The Dream Team”.
This special 90-minute look at the team debuted on Wednesday night at 9:00 to high praise and critical acclaim. I wasn’t able to catch the original showing, but I was able to catch the replay earlier today. I have been looking forward to watching this documentary for quite a while now.
After viewing it in its entirety, I can safely say that it lived up to all of my expectations and then some. I was not at all disappointed.
1) The Isaiah Thomas Controversy
At the 1:15 mark of the trailer, Scottie Pippen mentions how he didn’t want a “mystery player” on the team because “they were enemies”.
That player was Pistons guard Isaiah Thomas, who was noticeably left off the roster. It’s mentioned in the documentary how both Scottie and Bulls teammate Michael Jordan didn’t want Thomas to be a part of the team. They didn’t respect his dirty style of play and the manner in which he conducted himself during a prior playoff series between the 2 teams.
Jordan would have actually refused to play for the squad if Isaiah was selected.
Ever since that little snippet of Scottie Pippen chatting about his proverbial enemy in the trailer was shown, the interest in the doc grew to new heights as many became interested in the identity of that individual in question. That subject matter appears fairly early in the piece, but it’s given enough time as a whole to really draw in the viewer and fill them in on how big a deal his exclusion from the team and the reasoning behind it really was.
2) The Loss
Despite not losing once on route to an eventual Gold Medal win against Croatia, the “Dream Team” did in fact lose a scrimmage to a group of college players (consisted of future NBA stars such as Chris Webber, Allan Houston, Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill) during a team practice.
Rare stock footage of the scrimmage was shown during the documentary. Players like Bobby Hurley (who was interviewed as well) had no trouble driving through the paint on route to easy buckets. The final result actually had to be taken down from the scoreboard before media personnel entered the court.
Many had believed that this loss to the stars of college basketball was only a myth. Now having seen it with my own eyes, it is indeed true. It was revealed later on however that coach Chuck Daley may in fact have thrown the game in order to motivate his team for the actual games.
3) Charles Barkley
This documentary made “Sir Charles” look like a million bucks. Despite having a tough exterior on the court at times (which is further acknowledged with his elbow do an Angolan player during the opening game of the Olympics), the chance to see the softer side of Charles (mingling with fans, strolling the streets of Barcelona at night) was quite refreshing.
He may have been the biggest star of those entire Olympics, mainly because of his “say whatever is on my mind” attitude with the media and his willingness to interact with fans, townspeople and outsiders alike.
1) Lack of game footage
I really wish they would have shown more footage from the actual games that took place in the Olympics rather than just the qualifying rounds. I suppose when you’re blowing out teams by 40-60 points a night, relevant footage may be hard to come by. I loved the behind the scenes bits, but as a basketball purist and admirer of the sport in general, I would have really enjoyed seeing more in-game footage. I can never get enough.
2) Christian Laettner
AKA “The Forgotten Dreamer”. His story is rather interesting in the fact that not only do fans not remember him being on the team (being the only amateur on the roster), but it appears his teammates didn’t care much for his presence either. It was nothing personal of course, but being the only college player on a team with all-star NBA players must have been hard for Laettner at times. A quick 2-3 minute section on Christian and his time with the team and his feelings about his spot and his role would have been much appreciated.
Even the little guy sometimes needs his moment in the sun.
Overall, this was a tremendous documentary that is well worth the time of any basketball fan or fan of sports in general. We get to see the story behind how the team was formed, the struggles on and off the court with egos and chemistry, as well as the teams dramatic and dominating rise to Gold Medal glory.
I can nitpick on things here and there, but nothing was big enough an issue to ruin what was an exceptionally well made piece on arguably the greatest team in the history of team sports.
FINAL GRADE: A
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports