Chicago Sun-Times

20 years later, 'The Dream Team' still shines brightly

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My five-second review of ''The Dream Team'' that will air on NBA TV on Wednesday night at 8 is as succinct as a review can be: Charles Barkley's in it.

That's all you need to know if you're deciding whether or not to watch the ''definitive documentary'' on the 1992 United States Olympic basketball team that truly was a legend in its own time. Executive producers Dion Cocoros and Danny Meiseles interviewed all 12 players on the U.S. team, plus Toni Kukoc of Croatia, who famously was a foil of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen at the Barcelona Games, and Angola's Herlander Coimba, who infamously was elbowed by Barkley in the United States team's opening game in Barcelona.

Barkley is entertaining as always in his retrospective interview, but never moreso than in vintage snippets from 1992. Asked about U.S. coach Chuck Daly's challenge of coaching a team of huge egos and personalities, Barkley said, 'He coached the Bad Boys. If he can coach those [knuckleheads], he can coach anybody.'''

The documentary covers the Dream Team from its inception -- including Jordan's reluctance to participate until Magic, Bird and others were on board -- to the Gold Medal winning game against Croatia in Barcelona. It addresses the awkward exclusion of Isiah Thomas at the behest of Jordan. It shows previously unseen footage of the embarrassing ''loss'' to a group of collegians, including Chris Webber and Bobby Hurley in their first scrimmage against outside competition -- and how Daly ''threw'' that game to convince the Dream Team it was not infallible; and it captures the poignant evolution of the 11 NBA players on the team -- from rivals to teammates to close personal friends.

And it also includes an inside look into the rivalry between Jordan and Magic -- and how they settled the matter of which was the NBA kingpin -- that shows just how different the game and the players are today.

Jordan was so eager to prove he was the best, and Magic so eager to prove he was still king of the hill, that they battled in an Olympic team practice for supremacy. They were team guys all the way -- they eventually would win a combined 11 NBA titles -- but they were still fueled by the quest for individual supremacy. It meant something to them.

Contrast that with this year's NBA Finals, where LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the two best players on the planet but interested only in winning a ring.

''I don't really care,'' James said when asked whether this series will determine whether he or Durant is the best player in the game. ''I don't really get involved in the 'best player in the game.' It doesn't matter to me.

''When I go out on the basketball court, I want to be the best player in the game. I want to be the best player on that floor, and that's just how I approach the game. So I don't really care what people say at the end of this series if KD or LeBron is the best player in the league.

''It has to happen at some point anyways. I won't be the best player in the league, KD will be, and then KD won't be the best player in the league at some point. It happens all the time. It doesn't really matter, so I don't care.''

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on June 12, 2012 3:39 PM.

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