Study Guide

Olympics Books Dream Team

By Various Authors

Dream Team

How'd They Ever Fit So Much Ego Into One Room?

The title kinda says it all: apparently, the men who made up the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball team changed the game, and the world forever.

How, you ask? Well, don't worry, because Jack McCallum is going to tell you.

As one of the senior staff writers for Sports Illustrated, McCallum was granted unprecedented access to all the elite NBA players who made up the Dream Team, notably Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, and Scottie Pippen. While following them around doing everything from golfing, to trash-talking scrimmages, to late-night card games, McCallum was able to get the real dirt on these legendary athletes.

And their dirt is pretty rich.

You just can't assemble that many egos without creating a little bit of drama. Charles Barkley (the much-loved mumbler, now an anchor for ESPN) gets in trouble for an errant elbow during a game against the Angolan team. Michael Jordan reportedly wouldn't join the team if Isiah Thomas was on it (because he played real dirty, on and off the court).

Larry Bird was Larry Bird ("Give me the ball and get out the way!"). Magic Johnson had recently been diagnosed as HIV positive, which was all but an imminent death sentence back then, but he held his own on a team composed of the greatest basketball players of all time.

The story about how these legends waltzed through the Olympics like the Globetrotters playing a middle school JV team—they won every game by at least forty points—is told in typical sports-reporting fashion: "Now amped up, Jordan goes through four defenders for a flying layup, and then Pippen steals Mullin's inbounds pass" etc.

But it's also sprinkled with hilarious anecdotes, and it's hard not to grow really fond of these guys.