On Sept. 21 in 1991, the United States announced their lineup for its 1992 Olympics men’s basketball team. That team consisted of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen and others. This group was quite arguably the best talent assembly of all time, across all sports. Just to give an idea of how dominant this team was, the closest scored game they played was a 32 point victory in the gold medal game against Croatia. They began the campaign with a complete blowout of Angola, winning the game 116-48, by an astonishing 68 point score differential.
If you watched any of the popular Netflix series “The Last Dance” with Michael Jordan, it shows part of the Olympic team’s selection process and how Michael Jordan refused to take part if his rival, Detroit Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas, was on it. The selection committee then informed Thomas, one of the better players in the league at the time, that he would not be on the team.
Christian Laettner was the only college basketball player that was selected to be part of the team. He was a sensational young star with Duke at the time and was highly anticipated to be one of the next stars in the NBA, but his career did not end up panning out in the NBA. He was the third overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft, selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Laettner did not have a bad NBA career by any means, maintaining a spot on league rosters until his retirement in 2012, often acting as a complement to other stars. Although he never translated his collegiate level of play to the NBA, Laettner did win two national championships during his time at Duke, acting as the bonafide superstar of the team.
After easily dispatching the rest of the world’s gold medal hopes at the 1992 Olympics, sports media across the U.S. raved about the buzzsaw that was the Dream Team. Some commentators even made the argument that the U.S. had destroyed the level of competition in the Olympic Games by having so many professional athletes on their team in comparison to the previous years’ squads, which consisted primarily of the best collegiate athletes in the country.
If there has ever been a squad that could compare to the famed Dream Team, it would likely be another U.S. basketball squad: the 2008 Olympic team, led by LeBron James, the late Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and many more. That team was not by any means a big step behind the Dream Team, going 5-0 with a combined point differential of +161. At no point in any of their contests were the games even remotely close, after the tip-off.
In the history of the U.S. their best Olympic sport would have to be basketball, where they’ve been incredibly impressive. The sport was first added to the Olympics in 1936, and since then the United States has brought home the gold 15 times out of the 19 total opportunities, while also securing one silver medal and two bronze medals. The lone year they weren’t in the top three nations in the sport was 1980. When the team has all hands on deck from the best of the NBA, the rest of the world does not have a chance against them. The U.S. will look to continue their dominant reign in next summer’s Olympic Games. With so many budding stars around the league, ranging from Phoenix Suns point guard Devin Booker to Denver Nuggets shooting guard Jamal Murray to Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, the U.S. will likely sweep their way through the world’s best en route to bringing home the gold once more.