'Dream Team' Is A Sweet Read
A must-read for any basketball fan, Dream Team by Jack McCallum chronicles the ins and outs of the greatest basketball ensemble ever put together: the 1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team, fittingly nicknamed The Dream Team.
Relying on painstaking research, extensive player interviews and his own personal experience traveling with The Dream Team as a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, McCallum provides a thorough and entertaining peek inside the team that changed the world. McCallum discusses the U.S. men’s basketball history and its crushing bronze finish at the 1988 Olympics, which prompted the inclusion of NBA players on the 1992 Olympic team. He also offers an exclusive look inside the 12-man roster that boasted 11 future Hall of Famers, most of whom were at the peak of their fame. There were the grizzled veterans in Magic Johnson, who joined the team after having been diagnosed with HIV the year before; Larry Bird, who’s aching back made the Barcelona Games his final competitive outing; the always entertaining Charles Barkley, fresh off an outstanding season on the court and a tumultuous one off of it; the head coach, Chuck Daly, formerly of the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, who was called upon to manage the egos of the biggest stars in the world and return the gold medal to the United States; the 12th man, Christian Laettner, a Duke grad who’s Big Man on Campus swagger quickly evaporated when he had to guard the likes of David Robinson and Karl Malone in practice; and of course, the man of the hour, Michael Jordan, whose competitive drive rubbed even the feistiest of Dream Teamers the wrong way at times.
McCallum explains how each of the 12 members were recruited to play for the team and reveals just how difficult it was to get the world’s biggest star, Jordan, to come on board. Basketball enthusiasts recall how Detroit Pistons star and one-time horrendous general manager of the New York Knicks, Isaiah Thomas, was left off of the team despite being perhaps the best point guard in the game at the time. Dream Team details Thomas’ seemingly inexplicable snub and provides rare quotes from, among others, Jordan, who revealed he would not have played on the Olympic team if Thomas, his heated rival, had been selected. McCallum even takes readers inside the legendary Dream Team practices, which were far more hotly contested than the actual Olympic Games.
But Dream Team also sheds light on the many fun and heartwarming stories of the game, such as the unusual friendship between Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing, and how the players spent their free time drinking, smoking cigars, gambling, playing golf, and touring Barcelona with their families. Readers will find themselves chuckling at the absurdity of Jordan playing 36 holes of golf the day of a game and nearly missing the bus to the arena, and the image of Charles Barkely ignoring security orders and roaming the streets of Barcelona at night with no escort.
Basketball junkies have long wanted to go back in time and travel with the team that changed the game forever. Dream Team offers a small, sweet taste of what it was like to be in on the ride.