During the 1990s, the NBA helped put the United States Men’s National Basketball Team back on the map after struggles from the previous decade. That saw the formation of the legendary “Dream Team” that swept through the 1992 Olympics to bring back the Gold Medal for the country in nearly a decade. In the years since there has been much dialogue around the historic nature of the team that includes Hall of Famers across the board headlined by Michael Jordan. With that in mind, there was one unique control that Jordan regarding the roster.
Dream Team’s stacked roster
In the months heading into the 1992 Olympics, Team USA had taken a significant step back after settling for the bronze medal.
The men’s team was only meant for amateur players at the collegiate level. However, several countries, such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, used full-time professionals for their national teams by getting having their players to take up fake jobs to play. That resulted in Team USA foreseeably falling short, which led to FIBA to change the rules to allow them to use NBA players for the first time.
That saw the United States take full advantage of that by constructing a roster that was filled with future Hall of Famers such as Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, and Patrick Ewing. Meanwhile, the team was able to persuade both Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to participate.
During this process, there was much question concerning the formation of the roster. It has remained a topic of discussion over the years since, which has brought one detail regarding Jordan’s role in it all.
Michael Jordan had final say
The most significant part of putting together the 1992 team USA roster was getting Jordan on board. The opportunity to have him aboard would play a massive role in getting many of the NBA’s top talent to commit to participating in the Olympics.
Throughout the process, it was known that Jordan played a role in helping formulate the rest of the roster. That was noted in Jack McCallum’s book about the Dream Team that stated the Chicago Bulls star had a strong say about who he played alongside. (H/T Lorenzo Arguello of Business Insider)
[USA Basketball committee member Rod] Thorn won’t say—but he made it clear that no one would be on the team if Jordan didn’t want him on the team.
That brings more clarity to the entire situation about Detriot Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas being left off the shortlist. It was well known that Jordan didn’t have any interest in playing alongside Thomas. If anything, if further denotes that he may have been the deciding factor in keeping the Pistons star off the roster.
Dream Team Dominated
Although there was much fuss made over the roster concerning Thomas being left out of the mix, it didn’t stop Team USA from dominating.
They pushed their way back to the mountaintop in convincing fashion by defeating opponents by an average of 44 points that was capped off by a convincing win in the Gold Medal game against Croatia. The mixture of elite talent on the floor was too overwhelming for any other country to match up against in the 1992 Olympics.
There will always be a great deal of attention on the formation of the roster, but it shouldn’t overshadow the dominance that the Dream Team had and the level impact it has had on the game since. Nonetheless, anything in regards to that collection of talent will always remain a pertinent topic of discussion for years to come.