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Hoop Dreams: America’s Basketball Team Might Have Been the Greatest Ever | Olympic Games

“Me I know nothing about Angola. But Angola is in trouble. Charles Barkley at the Palau Municipal Esports, the day before the U.S. basketball team opened in 1992. olympic games It turned out to be true on some levels, some more uplifting than others.

Barkley himself scored 24 points against Angola in a commanding victory. In the process, he elbowed his opponent in the neck to “show him what the NBA is like.” He also became the top scorer on that dream team, had the time of his life, fussed with the locals, played cards all night with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and gave the team a sort of razor-sharp edge. provided the blade. around it. And in the process, become part of a different kind of history.

This week marks 30 years since the Dream Team won gold in Barcelona. Sports anniversaries are often meaningless. An event has occurred. Time has passed. end. But this is one of the good ones. Perhaps even one of the best, simply because the Dream Team is that kind of entity, always a matter of ultimateness and greatness.

Not just because the team itself was so good, it was arguably the largest collection of sports talent ever assembled. not only. Not even because there was a rare kind of joy in the way they did it. It’s the look of amazement shared in the crowd as you leap forward. Or Magic Johnson flips the pass so flat and crisp that it draws a sort of collective gasp, and the men move through a different kind of gravity, lighter air.

It was also one of those moments when the sport seemed to melt into something else. Even the way that team was born felt important. Four years ago, the US Olympic team of amateurs and minor league players had been badly beaten by the Soviet Union. A year later, a vote was passed allowing NBA players to participate.

Politics got into this. The Soviet Union was opposed to the end, but the Soviet Union was also in the process of dismantling. Historians – and AJP Taylor have been very firm about this – the keynote to the fall of the Berlin Wall is David Hasselhoff in a studded leather jacket in a collection of bewildered East Berliners with a sledgehammer. You may have decided that it was an imitation of “Searching for Freedom”. But in the February 1991 issue of Dream, where he was labeled on the cover of Sports Illustrated, his team also felt something was on the loose.

Michael Jordan (second from right) flashes the victory sign as he celebrates with teammates Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen and Clyde Drexler after winning the gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Photo: Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

To imbibe American culture, American food, American movies, and American certainties, even against your conscious will, when you look back through generations of adorable, blurry sports goggles, the dream team is dazed. It is no exaggeration to say that I felt Like a kind of fanfare of the American century. This was a victory parade, a sporting version of East Coast apple pie-eating Jack Kerouac, and a chance to devour its sweetness.

probably a chimera. but captivating. Mostly, this was an incredible team. Jordan, Johnson, Barkley, Pippen, Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing were all starters in a group strong enough to miss the token of a college player called Shaquille O’Neal out of Louisiana State University.

Fans show their support for the US basketball team's 117-85 win over Croatia at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Fans show their support for the US basketball team’s 117-85 win over Croatia at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Photo: Ed Reinke/AP

The real glue for this project was magic. He retired after testing positive for his HIV a year ago and thought most of his teammates were on borrowed time. In particular, the Australian team doctor suggested, based on zero evidence, that he could infect other players. He received the most enthusiastic reception in Barcelona, ​​dancing his opening parade in his silky blue Jimmy Cagney suit and leading the team on and off the court.

Still, for all triumphalism, this was never a sure thing. Critics said there would be too many stars. (you must love him). One early practice was so bad that Johnson kicked a ball into the stands. On June 28th, they played their first head-to-head game and all went well. As the Cuban coach later said, “You can’t cover the sun with your fingers.”

Then, with a military helicopter escort, a jam of rabid fans, and an electrifying pre-globalization streak headed to Barcelona, ​​I was a little shocked to find out how much people love this team. It was a city that was a stage, a work of art in its own right, a monument to the great things human beings can do. Opponents asked for autographs. At times, local commentators laughed as Magic faked, feinted, crouched, faked again, and whistled a nice velvet-touch layup from under the basket.

There tends to be a kind of bullying imperialism in the dominance of the U.S. team, but this is because they are individual athletes, their talents are hard-earned, The most vivid impression is to overlook the fact that sport pushes you to your physical and mental limits and leaves you out of it.

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That Olympic run is regularly credited with helping make basketball a global game. In the early 90’s, the world was a hectic place. And in some ways, this team felt like a coronation. Solid proof that the world is now all open borders, Wendy’s in Red Square, Bill Clinton playing saxophone, the end of history, the removal of the constant threat of an impending nuclear mega. death.

And of course this was an illusion. In the same year, a race riot broke out in Los Angeles. America’s century has ended, but history has not. And looking back now, what remains of that team is the ability to express something of hope that is confusing and confusing. And beyond that, just basic beauty, ghosting, floating, twisting through the air of analogue, a truly dreamy white shirt elegance.

Hoop Dreams: America’s Basketball Team Might Have Been the Greatest Ever | Olympic Games

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