Dream Team

David Stern’s favorite basketball memories include iconic Olympics

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In David Stern‘s 30 transformative years as NBA commissioner, two on-court memories reportedly stood out. One of them happened to be at the Olympics.

Specifically, the Dream Team at the 1992 Barcelona Games, the first Olympics with NBA players growing the sport into a global game.

“The march to the gold medal stand, being feted like a combination of the Bolshoi, the Philharmonic and the Beatles,” Stern said before transitioning out of the commissioner role in 2014, according to The New York Times. Stern died Wednesday at age 77.

Stern noted two favorite memories, both from 1992. The other: awarding Magic Johnson the NBA All-Star Game MVP honor in the Laker great’s first game since announcing he had contracted HIV.

“When I announced in 1991 I had HIV, people thought they could get the virus from shaking my hand,” Johnson tweeted Wednesday. “When David allowed me to play in the 1992 All Star Game in Orlando and then play for the Olympic Dream Team, we were able to change the world.”

As for Olympic basketball, the key year for Stern was 1985. That’s when Stern and deputy commissioner Russ Granik welcomed FIBA secretary general Bora Stankovic for a New York meeting. But the NBA execs were far from on board with what would come to fruition seven years later.

“David and I thought that global basketball came with as many burdens as benefits,” Granik said, according to Jack McCallum‘s book “Dream Team,” “and that’s what we told Boris.”

In that meeting, Stern agreed to host what would become the 1987 McDonald’s Open, an event pitting the Milwaukee Bucks against an Italian club team and the Soviet national team. Two years later, a FIBA vote allowed NBA players into the Olympics, though the U.S. Amateur Basketball Association (ABAUSA) was one of the “nay” votes.

ABAUSA voted against it because colleges and high schools that made up most of its constituency opposed it, believing it would take Olympic spots away from amateurs. ”I’m not sure the NBA, if it had a vote, would have voted for it, either,” ABAUSA president Dave Gavitt said in 1989, according to The Associated Press.

“We knew it was going to pass,” Stern said, according to “Dream Team,” “but we were absolutely not enthusiastic about it.”

Then came the Barcelona Games. Stern sat near midcourt for the medal ceremony, where some players covered the Reebok logo on their uniforms, either with their jackets or, in the case of Michael Jordan, an American flag draped over a shoulder.

“[Stern] was proud (in general) of the way the NBA players had comported themselves, proud that they never seemed to rub it in (Charles Barkley‘s elbow not withstanding), proud that eight grind-the-other-guys-into-dust routs had been accomplished without an international incident. But he was also a businessman, schooled in the art of the dead, and was disappointed in the flags and the artfully zipped jackets,” McCallum wrote.

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Dream Team gold medal game tonight on Olympic Channel after all-day marathon

Dream Team 1992
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“Dream Team Week” culminates today with an 11-hour marathon of the 1992 Olympic basketball tournament on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. NBA superstars Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird won eight straight games in Barcelona to win the gold medal over Croatia.

In the USA vs. Croatia group stage game, the U.S. won 103-70. In the gold medal game, the Dream Team actually trailed Croatia 25-23 at the first half, but rallied to a 117-85 win. Their 32-point margin of victory was the closest any team came to topping the Dream Team.

For their part, Croatia topped the Unified Team 75-74 to earn a berth to the gold medal game.

 

The original NBC Olympic broadcasts will start at noon:

USA vs. Angola (preliminary) – noon ET

USA vs. Spain (preliminary) – 2:30 pm ET

USA vs. Puerto Rico (quarterfinal) – 4:30 pm ET

USA vs. Lithuania (semifinal) – 6:30 pm ET

USA vs. Croatia (gold medal final) – 8:30 pm ET

 

MORE: Marv Albert on his favorite Dream Team memories

Check the Channel Finder to see how you can watch the Olympic Channel in your area.

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Dream Team Week: USA vs. Lithuania semifinal tonight on Olympic Channel

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There’s just two days left in “Dream Team Week,” an eight-day stretch in which every USA basketball game from the 1992 Barcelona Games will air on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

Tonight’s showing reaches the semifinal stage of the tournament. After going 5-0 in group stage, the Dream Team — which featured NBA superstars such as Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson — took care of Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals to set up a meeting with Lithuania in the semifinals. Despite falling to the U.S. in this game, Lithuania would not leave the Olympics empty-handed, as they ultimately ended up winning the bronze medal.

All eight games will be shown in sequential order via their original NBC Olympic broadcasts. Each night’s airing will start at 8 p.m. ET, unless noted otherwise below.

Monday, Aug. 28 — USA vs. Angola (*8:30 p.m. ET)
Tuesday, Aug. 29 — USA vs. Croatia
Wednesday, Aug. 30 — USA vs. Germany
Thursday, Aug. 31 — USA vs. Brazil
Friday, Sept. 1 — USA vs. Spain
Saturday, Sept. 2 — USA vs. Puerto Rico (quarterfinal)
Sunday, Sept. 3 — USA vs. Lithuania (semifinal)
Monday, Sept. 4 — USA vs. Croatia (final, *8:30 p.m. ET)

The final will conclude an 11-hour marathon of Dream Team game broadcasts on Labor Day.

After each game, the Olympic Channel will show NBC’s Dream Team documentary, which originally aired during the 2012 London Olympics and includes interviews with the players.

Check the Channel Finder to see how you can watch the Olympic Channel in your area.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Marv Albert on his favorite Dream Team memories