It’s really not a stretch to argue that the 1992 USA Men’s Basketball team was the greatest team ever assembled, in any sport. In fact, I’m not sure you can really argue against that statement — from Bird and Magic to Jordan and Drexler, Ewing and Malone to Barkley and Pippen, it was an impossibly impressive group of players, all on one floor. And, of course, they ran over their competition on the way to a gold medal. Because what choice did they have?
The latest GQ has a fantastic oral history of the Dream Team, compiled from interviews with everyone from the players to the coaches to David Stern himself. It’s an awesome read, especially about the intra-squad scrimmages. First the team played against a Penny Hardaway-led team of college stars, and lost. The first time, anyway. But then in Monte Carlo, the team broke into two squads and scrimmaged, and according to everyone involved it was one of the greatest games ever played:
Carlesimo: Those practices in Monte Carlo were legendary. There was no college team, so that was actually the first time we went against each other.
Malone: The coaches always kept Magic and Michael on different teams.
Hubbard: There was one moment where Krzyzewski claps his hands and says, “Okay, plenty of time.” And Michael is at the other end of the court, and he shouts out: “Fuck that! We’re going to win this game. Fuck that.” You gotta figure Coach K never heard that at a Duke practice.
Krzyzewski: That’s why he’s the greatest player ever. That afternoon, the intensity of it was just beautiful to witness.
Johnson: Oh man, the best basketball I ever played was during those practices. Because everybody said, “Let’s strap up.”
Wilkens: Our last scrimmage, Magic’s team was dominating Michael’s team. And the guys were teasing Michael, because he was playing golf every morning. Well, that did it. The whole thing turned around.
Thorn: He got upset, so he started to score every time down the floor. One time he drove, and the refs called, like, a real tick-tack foul. So Magic booted the ball up to the ceiling: “This is ridiculous! Just like the NBA! He gets every call!”
Hubbard: Magic was saying, “This must be what it’s like playing in Chicago Stadium,” because Michael was getting the calls. And Michael said, “Well, this is the ’90s, not the ’80s.”
Johnson: Michael was going at Clyde; Clyde was going at Michael. David Robinson was going at Patrick Ewing; Patrick was going after him. Karl Malone was going after Barkley, Barkley after Malone. We were just going at it, man.
Wilkens: It got so heated we had to stop it.