A look at merchandising for the 1992 Dream Team

1992 Team USA Logo 2012 Team USA logo

Just like anything else during the 80s-90s heyday of the NBA, the 1992 Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (The Dream Team) was marketed in every way imaginable.  Lets take a look at some of that awesome product.  I’ll start with some of the product from around the time the team played, ie 1991-1992.  Then I’ll move forward to present day as there are several things going on now for the 20th anniversary of the team.

One of the first merchandising items I remember were the posters.  These came out in late 1991/early 1992 before a game had ever been played.  The posters were mocked up images of players with Team USA logos photoshopped over their normal uniform.  Here’s the poster I had of Larry Bird.  It hung in my dorm room my entire first year of college.  You can tell it’s a mock up because Bird is wearing his traditional black Converse that he wears with the Celtics.

Larry Bird Team USA poster

Speaking of Bird’s shoes, next I remember the special edition sneakers. Many of the players released their own Olympic sneaker. My favorite, of course, was Converse’s Larry Bird Olympic shoe.  I owned two pairs of these.  I bought one pair, wore them out, then just as they were being discontinued, I bought a pair on clearance.  Then wore those out.  I wish I had kept at least one pair.

Larry Bird Olympic shoesLarry Bird Olympic Shoe
(Via solecollector.com and Air Randy)

The next big merchandising item I remember are all of the NBA Hoops Dream Team card sets.  There were several.  There was a set for the Tournament of Americas which featured many game photos as well as publicity shots.

Larry Bird TOA Dream Team TOA

There was also a regular Dream Team set featuring all the players in mostly publicity photos.

Larry Bird Dream Team John Stockton Dream Team

Skybox had a nice set of Dream Team cards as well.

Skybox Dream Team cards box Skybox Dream Team cards 1

In 1992 there was a video released by the NBA featuring a “documentary” of game clips for the first 10 of the NBA players on the Dream Team. The video was released before the final two spots were filled by Clyde Drexler and Christian Laettner.  The documentary included only existing game footage as well as a voice over touting the strengths of each player. I still have this video.

NBA Dream Team video NBA Dream Team back

McDonald’s had a set of 12 awesome collector cups featuring all of the players in 1992. These were a marketing stroke of genius because I had to eat McDonalds literally for an entire 6 months to get all of these cups (as did everyone else who wanted the whole set).

McDonalds Dream Team cups

A book was released in 1993 called The Golden Boys by Cameron Stauth.  It chronicles the inception, selection and game play of the 1992 Dream Team and was written right after they won the gold.  I bought it when it was released in hardback and read it back then.  I plan on re-reading it again very soon.  A similar book was released this year called Dream Team by Jack McCallum.  It’s a look back by a popular Sports Illustrated writer at the phenomenon of the team including much behind the scenes information.  I am reading it as we speak and I’ll be reviewing it on Friday.

Golden Boys Dream Team McCallum

Here are some 1992 ads from McDonalds and Visa that use congratulations to the Dream Team members to promote their products.

McDonalds Dream Team ad Visa Dream Team ad

I’ve mentioned before that 7-up is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Dream Team with a set of collector cans featuring players from the team. They aren’t doing all 12 players, they picked 5 players and put them on various cans and 2 liter bottles. The players are Magic, Bird, Ewing, Robinson and Pippen. I’m a little disappointed Stockton didn’t get a can, to be honest.

Magic - Bird collector cans Pippen 2 liter bottle

See the rest of the cans and bottles in my Flickr set here.

Along with 7-Up Burger King is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of Team USA basketball with a set of collector cups. The collector cups feature logos from 5 different Team USA jerseys. Below you can see the cups for 1992 and 1996.

BK Team USA cups

There are also cups for the Olympic teams from 2000, 2008 and 2012.

You know what’s completely shocking to me?  That there has not been an official release of all 14 games played by the 1992 Dream Team (or 1996 Dream Team).  That includes the Tournament of Americas.  I have several of the games that were televised, but the majority of games were only available if you paid for the NBC Olympic package.  How has the NBA not released these games on home video?  Especially now with the 20th anniversary.  They could even include footage of the team practices as well as the scrimmage against the college all-stars.  This, in my mind, is a no brainer.  Right now, I would love nothing more than to go to this website and buy up videos of every game this team ever played.  I would prefer these games to be official releases, but I might have to take what I can get.

Oh, I guess I should at least mention this. Kobe Bryant, a member of the 2012 Dream Team has gone on record as saying his 2012 Team USA squad could beat the 1992 squad. Of course Bryant is going to stick up for his team. I get that. But he’s completely f**king wrong.  As expected Barkley AND Jordan disagree with Kobe. Even the President of the United States disagrees.  The hubris of the players on the 2012 “Dream Team” really makes pulling for them in the Olympics hard.  I want them to win because they are USA, but I honestly also want them to be taken down a peg.  Maybe a loss in an exhibition game.

So that’s most of the merchandising that was released for the 1992 Dream Team. I didn’t even include replica jerseys or magazine appearances. They were in nearly every national publication.  But these are some of the more recognizable.

Stay tuned, on Friday I’ll be reviewing Jack McCallum’s book Dream Team.


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