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the less rave view of the Americans

it was thirty years ago. Already. Thirty years since the United States obtained the authorization to send NBA players to participate in the Olympic Games. Thirty years since, as a result, the “Dream Team” was created. Thirty years that a simple basketball team took on a dimension never seen before. Records, legends, influence… this summer TrashTalk has decided to come back with you to all the stories that have made this squad one of the most legendary in the history of sport. Get out your Hoverboards, hop in the Delorean and launch Johnny B. Goode on the car radio because it’s time to look back in 360 degrees on what happened… 360 months ago. Fifth episode? The laudatory but slightly more nuanced opinion of the Americans on their “Dream Team”.

Previous episode: The Dream Team 1992 – 30 years later: Christian Laettner, the controversial presence of a college player among NBA stars

Let’s be honest: in 1992, the Dream Team did not land in Barcelona. No, in reality, it carries the city like a real storm, unleashing passions and admiration throughout the whole world. This true phenomenon has known little – if any – equivalent in the entire history of sport. All over the planet, NBA stars have inspired, but also taken our breath away. A global reaction that never really surprised, as the aura of this team was unusual for us, poor mortals. The expectation, the enthusiasm, the wonder… emotions of a very different intensity from what we were used to before in front of our own European teams, for example. However, if there is a place on Earth where the Dream Team could be looked at singularly, it is well at home, in the United States. Without saying that this difference in visions does indeed exist, it is therefore interesting to look into the question, in order to better understand how Team USA 1992 was seen by the Americans, who were by definition more accustomed to this kind of spectacle.

Before we begin, and to cut through any unnecessary suspense, let’s give a quick and clear answer to the question running through this article: yes, the Dream Team was national pride for a huge majority of Americans. More than a pride even, this assembly of orange ball monsters was seen as a kind of ultimate satisfaction. Because for the first time, those who forged their legend as rivals were going to come together under the same colors, to finally deliver a common performance. Disappeared from the field for a year following the announcement of his HIV status, Magic Johnson was going to perform his last dance alongside his sworn enemy and great friend, Larry Bird. At the top of the pyramid? The one who reigns supreme over the NBA: Michael Jordan. It’s very simple, all the players in this squad belong to first-class franchises, which fight each other every year to win the title. Here, for example, is the kind of editorial that could be found in theOklahomaneven before the start of the Olympic Games:

” This is the Dream Team. This is the largest assembly of sports history with Michael, Larry Legend et the most charismatic of sportsmen: Magic. If he y a somebody among you who do not like not Magic Johnson, il would do better of check son tree genealogy, because Hannibal Lecter et Adolph Hitler must be there. ok hluckily, the plupart of the Americans will savor this crusade unique, by thatelle it is with will reproduce plus. So, enjoy, usa. Rejoice of the shine fantastic of the only Dream Team what we will probably see. –Bob Hersom

And this admiration for such an addition of talents continues even today. Just see what is said when a debate on the name “Dream Team” is launched on Quora:

« La Dream Team original of 1992 was something never seen. Pour the first time, of the professionals ce who pour them United States wanted to presque exclusively dire of the players NBA would represent them USA in a competition internationale. It was and holy moment. All them best were impatient of in faire part. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird et Magic Johnson in the same crew ? It was as and dream. When the « pire » player NBA [de l’équipe, ndlr.] was maybe Chris Mullin, eh bien, it is that it is youit is crew unbelievable. »

See a little? Very quickly, the Dream Team became a chance for every American to see their dreams fulfilled, but not only that. For many, it was also the perfect opportunity to show off the superiority and glory of the United States. Four years prior, in 1988 in Seoul, during the previous Olympics campaign where only “amateurs” – basically academics – were allowed to compete, Team USA failed to reach the Finals for the first time in its history. . A failure experienced as a real shame by many American NBA fans, who therefore expressed the need for revenge in 1992. This feeling of expectation to see the team at work was very strongly reinforced by the media, who did not hesitate to hype the general public about this crazy Team USA. The proof in pictures with the cover of Sports Illustratedwhich revealed the name “Dream Team” for the first time in 1991, several months before the official announcement of the American team’s roster for the Olympic Games.

However, the over-mediatization of the team has also brought its share of disadvantages, and it is therefore now that we have to enter the more… debated image of the Dream Team. The most convincing example is probably the Isiah Thomas case. One of the very best players in the world at the time, the leader of the Bad Boys fully deserves his place in this Team USA. However, while his coach Chuck Daly is at the head, the latter will not be called. You have to realize that at the time, it caused a scandal. You most likely know this, but rumors are surfacing that Jordan, and the entire roster, didn’t want the guard on the team. Inevitably, you can therefore already remove the Pistons fanbase, which is logically very critical of this choice at the time. But Detroit residents aren’t the only ones angry, not at all. All you have to do is read some forums published at the time, such as the one in the… Chicago Tribunewhere a certain Michel Jourdan is nevertheless rather popular:

“Shame on you, NBA. Shame on you, Men’s Olympic Basketball Selection Committee. Shame on you, Michael Jordan. […] Irritating, of course. Undrinkable, certainly. Arrogant, impudent and provocative. All of these words can be used to describe the Pistons star guard from West Chicago. But now that the basketball world has risen to crush Thomas’s well-deserved Olympic dream, he’s back to being the little street boy who fights bullies. […] Did he deserve to be on that Olympic team? Without a doubt. […] Shame on you all, shame, shame, shame. –Sam Smith

Well… Someone obviously had something to say. Beyond the Thomas controversy, another question arose enormously at the time, in total opposition to one of the ambitions precisely carried by the Dream Team. Indeed, faced with those rejoicing in being able to demonstrate the domination of the USA on the basketball planet, others are simply worried about fair play. Claiming the spirit of Coubertin, the latter believe that crushing the competition is at odds with the values ​​advocated during the Olympic Games. Oh the insolence of the guys. Among those defending this idea, we can notably cite a certain… Isiah Thomas, who believed that such a decision would show a kind of “ win at all costs mentality which would serve the United States more than anything else. Moreover, there was a sincere fear at the time that academics would be left behind in favor of the stars of the big leagues. The best example to illustrate this? The fact that the United States itself has always voted… against opening the Olympics to professionals. Yes yes, the rule change that allowed the creation of the Dream Team was not desired by the American authorities, or at least not officially, as reported in 1989 by the New York Times :

“Fewer places for amateurs? Dave Gavitt, president of the Amateur Basketball Association of the United States, said his federation voted against the plan because American middle and high schools, which make up most of its field, opposed it, saying that he would deprive fans of Olympic places: “I’m not sure that the NBA, if there had been a vote, would have voted for either,” he said.

Other causes for this surprising position: the risk of injury, the necessary adaptation of the calendar or the fact that according to a survey at the time, only 58% of NBA players said they were ready to take part in the competition. Among them: Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone… but not Michael Jordan, who was lazy in refusing to waste another summer on this. Always pleasant Mike. In the end, this decision will not have had the negative impact that NBA officials imagined. To to tell the truth, it will even have propelled basketball to a peak it had never reached before, to the delight of the entire planet and of course that of the Americans, who saw their nation settle on the roof of the world.

Nothing and no one is unanimous – except Boban Marjanovic – we certainly agree on that. But we have to recognize that the Dream Team was able to conquer the hearts of people from all four corners of the planet in 1992. And although they may have been critical or disagreed with certain subjects orbiting around this famous Team USA, the Americans also benefited from this legendary epic, which marked their lives as much as ours.

Source texte : Oklahoman / Chicago Tribune / New York Times / Bleacher Report / Los Angeles Times / The Detroit News

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