On June 27 the 1992 Basketball Tournament of the Americas was held in Portland, Oregon. Just over 20 years ago. This would be the qualifying tournament for the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, Spain.
This particular tournament is important because it was the international debut of the 1992 Men’s Olympic Basketball Team, the original Dream Team.
Selected the Summer before in 1991, the team consisted of co-captains Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan as well as Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler and Christian Laettner. This would be the first time that FIBA would allow the use of NBA players on a country’s Olympic team.
Though the tournament started on June 27th, the Dream Team didn’t debut until the second day, June 28, where they played Cuba.
Here are the team intros and some highlights of that debut game.
The game was televised. I was actually working that summer as a lifeguard. I, unfortunately, had to work that day, but during my lunch break I ran home and watched a little over an hour of the game before having to go back. I, of course, video taped the game so I could watch it in its entirety later that evening. Earlier that summer, I had purchased a replica of Larry Bird’s Olympic jersey and when I ran back to work that afternoon, I wore it the rest of the day. I still have the VHS of that game as well as Bird’s Olympic jersey. I also would later purchase a replica Bird Celtics jersey and a replica John Stockton Jazz jersey. They are my two favorite NBA players.
The Dream Team would go on to sweep that tournament and win their birth in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. After their spectacular debut in the tournament, the country caught Dream Team fever and, as expected from a David Stern NBA venture, the team was marketed to the general public with jerseys, videos, collector cups and more.
I’ll take a look at some of that merchandising this week in my week long look at the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. This week will culminate in my review of the new book by Jack McCallum, The Dream Team, which is a look back at the formation of the team as well as “behind the scenes” of being on the team.