In the summer of 1992, Michael Jordan took his talents to Barcelona to play for the USA Dream Team in the Olympics. The Chicago Bulls legend was joined by Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Christian Laettner, and John Stockton.
Jordan could have skipped the Barcelona Olympics since he won the 1992 championship and was likely exhausted after playing in back-to-back NBA Finals. However, the Bulls icon wanted to see the work ethic of all the Dream Team players.
Some players impressed Michael Jordan, some didn’t
In 1997, Jordan told SLAM Magazine that one of the reasons he played on the Dream Team was to see how the other stars in the NBA worked. Some guys impressed MJ, but some didn’t.
“I wanted to do that because I wanted to see the work ethics of all the athletes that were on the highest level of stardom,” Jordan said. “Some people lived up to it, and some people didn’t. In terms of the way I perceived it.”
Jordan, Magic, Bird, and Pippen were the only players on the Dream Team who had won an NBA championship. His Airness defeated Drexler in the 1992 Finals and attacked the Portland Trail Blazers guard the entire series after pundits said the two players were similar.
While Jordan may not have been impressed with everyone’s work ethic on the Dream Team, the squad had no issues blowing out their competition.
Dream Team went undefeated and won gold medal
The Dream Team easily won the gold medal in 1992. They averaged 117.3 points and gave up only 73.5. Jordan averaged 14.9 points while shooting 45.1% from the field. He was the team’s second-leading scorer behind Barkley.
The most competitive game for the Dream Team wasn’t even against an opponent. They had a practice game in Monte Carlo, where Jordan and Magic went at each other by engaging in some serious trash-talking. Magic’s team was beating Black Jesus’ group, and the Los Angeles Lakers superstar began to rub it in MJ’s face. That turned out to be the wrong move by Johnson.
“We’re up about eight points, I think, something like that, and I went over and tapped him, and I said, ‘Look, man, if you don’t turn into Air Jordan, we gonna blow you out.’ Man, what did I say that for?” Magic said in Episode 5 of The Last Dance docuseries.
Jordan proceeded to score every time down the court. He basically made it a point to show Magic and Bird that the ’80s were over and the NBA was now his, and he was correct.
Michael Jordan won six rings in the ’90s
Jordan guided the Bulls to six championships in the ’90s while going undefeated in the Finals. He beat Magic in ’91, Drexler in ’92, Barkley in ’93, and Malone and Stockton in ’97 and ’98.
In 35 Finals games, Jordan averaged 33.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. He won six Finals MVPs and prevented Barkley, Malone, and Stockton from winning rings during their Hall of Fame careers. Knowing the type of competitor he is, Jordan likely loved the fact that he won more rings than Bird and Magic.
The Dream Team changed everything about international basketball, and it’s entirely responsible for the NBA’s profile taking a huge step forward by shaping how the world felt about hoops. Not only was Jordan the face of the Dream Team, but he also was the hardest worker based on what happened during his battle against Magic in the Monte Carlo scrimmage.