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How the Dream Team roster was chosen for 1992 Olympics

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When FIBA voted in 1989 to allow NBA players into the Olympics, it led to a new system of choosing a U.S. men’s basketball roster.

For the 1992 Barcelona Games, there were no tryouts for the first time.

The NBA season ran much longer than the NCAA — they used to put college players on the Olympic team — and the best pros’ abilities didn’t need to be dissected any more than watching the 82-game regular season and playoffs. Nor did they need to further risk injury at a tryout.

So USA Basketball formed a committee and a two-year process to choose the 12 players for the first Dream Team. It was headed by C.M. Newton, the University of Kentucky Athletic Director and an assistant coach on the 1984 Olympic team.

It included NBA executives, such as Rod Thorn and Jack McCloskey, college coaches including Mike Krzyzewski and P.J. Carlesimo (who would become assistants to Chuck Daly in Barcelona) and an NBA Players Association presence (Charles Grantham).

The committee was tasked with reviewing performances from the 1990-91 and 1991-92 NBA seasons.

The first 10 members of the Dream Team were announced on a selection show on NBC on Sept. 21, 1991. Those 10 players, in order of the reveal:

Magic Johnson
Charles Barkley
Karl Malone
John Stockton
Patrick Ewing
David Robinson
Larry Bird
Chris Mullin
Scottie Pippen
Michael Jordan

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Of those players, it was reported on the show that Bird and Jordan were initially reluctant to accept roster spots.

“Originally [Bird] said he would not compete in the Olympics because he felt the Games are more for the younger folks,” NBC’s Marv Albert said to Johnson (Bird didn’t appear on the show due to a prior commitment).

“If he hadn’t have been playing,” Johnson said of his longtime rival who had, in recent years, become a friend, “I don’t know if I’d be sitting here today, too, because a team wouldn’t have been a team without Larry Bird on it.”

Bird, turning 35, would be the oldest player on the team by nearly three years (and, to this day, the oldest U.S. Olympic men’s basketball player in history). The 1991-92 NBA season would be his last, in part due to back problems, but he accepted after two dozen phone calls from Johnson, according to the 2012 book, “Dream Team.”

Bird recalled growing up in French Lick, Ind., watching the Olympics on one of this two TV channels and hearing his dad glowing about what it would be like to stand on the medal podium, listening to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Jordan was coy about his participation that summer of 1991. He explained his reluctance here.

Everybody else seemed on board from the get-go. If there was any debate, it was over Mullin, whom Daly liked as a versatile shooting guard/small forward, and Barkley, for his less-than-sterling reputation, according to “Dream Team.” Barkley ended up leading the Olympic team in scoring, while Mullin had the most points for anyone who didn’t start at least half the games.

The last two players to fill out the roster were named nearly eight months later. It would include at least one collegian, an ode to the history of Olympic basketball, and perhaps another NBA player.

“In the next 11, 12 months, It could that another Scottie Pippen will emerge, be it Reggie Miller of Indiana, or it could be an Isiah Thomas,” USA Basketball President Dave Gavitt said on the NBC Selection Show in September 1991.

Obviously Thomas’ omission was much talked-about. He was the only 1992 NBA All-Star starter not among the first 10. He didn’t get the 11th spot, either.

That went to Clyde Drexler, who finished second in NBA MVP voting in the 1991-92 season. When Drexler was named to the team, he was leading the Portland Trail Blazers through the Western Conference Playoffs and to an NBA Finals matchup with Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.

Drexler was upset he wasn’t among the first 10, questioning being passed over for Johnson and Bird, who were on the decline, and Mullin, according to “Dream Team.”

Other than Thomas, the top players who didn’t make the Dream Team, based off All-NBA honors or All-Star voting in 1991 and 1992: Dominique Wilkins (All-NBA second team in 1991), Kevin Johnson (All-NBA second team and All-Star Game starter in 1991), Tim Hardaway (All-NBA second team in 1992) and Michael Adams (most 1992 All-Star votes among non-Dream Team players and Thomas).

The last spot had to go to a collegian: Duke’s Christian Laettner. He was the obvious choice after leading the Blue Devils to a repeat national championship and earning Player of the Year honors.

Shaquille O’Neal was upset, but he had one fewer year in college than Laettner and, admittedly, wasn’t as fundamentally sound. He would be drafted No. 1 over Alonzo Mourning and Laettner a month before the Olympics.

MORE: Michael Jordan’s note to Bobby Knight before 1984 Olympic final

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Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

MORE: World’s top skater leaves famed coach

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Respectfully, Donavan Brazier believes he has a chance at legendary record

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On the night of the biggest race of his life, Donavan Brazier met the man whom he is trying to succeed and, perhaps, supplant.

David Rudisha, the two-time Olympic 800m champion and world-record holder, told Brazier before the Oct. 1 world championships 800m final that he believed in the 22-year-old American more than any other man in that night’s event.

Later that evening in Doha, Brazier proved the sidelined Kenyan prophetic, winning in a national record 1:42.34 and becoming the first American to win a world title in the event.

Brazier, in his first global championship final, also ran the fastest time by somebody that young since Rudisha’s 2012 Olympic title and world-record epic pulled that field to personal bests.

Rudisha’s mark of 1:40.91 — from a race Brazier has watched dozens of times — is still significantly faster. That hasn’t stopped followers from wondering if Rudisha’s days as world-record holder may be numbered.

Sounds like Brazier may be wondering, too.

“I think I definitely have the opportunity,” Brazier told NBC Sports’ Leigh Diffey in a watchback of his 2019 Diamond League and world titles. “If we’re looking at guys that are currently racing right now, I think I might have the best opportunity to do it.”

Brazier exercised caution. He was by no means predicting such a feat.

“David Rudisha, when he first broke it, he was a once-in-a-century athlete,” Brazier said. “For someone to break it so quick and just to say it so nonchalantly, I think it’s not really giving David Rudisha the respect that he deserves. A 1:40.91 is a really dangerous record to break.”

Brazier, who took up running in middle school in Michigan rather than football because he was “terribly skinny,” quickly became a dangerous prospect. In 2016, he went into the Olympic Trials ranked third in the world as a Texas A&M freshman.

Then came the obstacles. Brazier was eliminated in the first round of trials, three weeks after winning the NCAA title on the same Oregon track. In 2017, he won the U.S. title but failed to make the world final. He didn’t race at all outdoors in 2018 due to a foot injury.

Brazier looked at 2019 as a redemption year. He hit a series of successes: an American indoor 800m record, the world’s fastest indoor 600m in history, his first Diamond League win, a repeat national title and the Diamond League Final title.

Brazier said that last victory in Zurich took him from “not a well known guy, maybe a medal contender, maybe not,” to the world championships favorite. Rudisha hasn’t raced since 2017 due to injuries.

Brazier, after meeting Rudisha and former world-record holder Seb Coe, capped the season with his biggest title yet in Doha. The feeling was more relief than happiness. Brazier, after getting knocked down repeatedly in his first two seasons as a pro, noted that Muhammad Ali also won his first world title at age 22.

Brazier mouthed “thank you” after crossing the finish line, a salute to everybody who helped him reach that point.

“I’m thanking myself, too, because I’m the one who put in all the hard work to do it,” Brazier said. “I’m not saying that this is the end of my career, but it was definitely the peak of my career and the pinnacle of it. I never accomplished anything on a stage like that.”

MORE: Dalilah Muhammad rewatches 2019 world records

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