Archive for NBA

Review of Dream Team by Jack McCallum (2012)

Posted in basketball, books, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, NBA, pop culture, reviews, sports with tags , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2012 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

So this week I’ve been looking at the 1992 Dream Team as this year is their 20th anniversary. On Monday I talked about their first appearance in the Tournament of Americas. On Thursday I looked at how that team had been merchandised and marketed to the world.  Today, I’m going to review a brand new book about the Dream Team that came out a week ago. It’s a behind the scenes book written by Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum. The book is titled simply, Dream Team.

Dream Team

On the surface, this book is similar to another book that was released in 1993 called The Golden Boys by Cameron Stauth.

The Golden Boys

Like Stauth, McCallum was a reporter that hung around the Dream Team at the time of the 1992 Olympics. McCallum gathered his notes and interviews with an eye towards releasing his book, like Stauth, right after the team won gold. Unlike Stauth, McCallum’s book deal fell through. McCallum kept those notes, however, and used them to write this new book.  And he supplemented it with new interviews.

Unlike Stauth, however, since this new book is being released 20 years later, he can get some perspective on the 12 man circus that was known as the original Dream Team. None of these guys are still active in the NBA. Twenty years makes people a lot more comfortable about revealing what really went on. In Stauth’s book, you weren’t going to get the honest truth so close to the situation (except from, maybe, Charles Barkley). With McCallum, new interviews with the members of the team and the officials/executives that made the team happen are much more candid. People now are much more willing to talk about the behind the scenes machinations that made this team.  And this is why McCallum’s book is endorsed by the NBA and Team USA and Stauth’s book was not.

Case in point, the controversy surrounding the exclusion of Detroit Pistons point guard, Isiah Thomas.  McCallum covers this topic at length.  It’s very interesting what everyone has to say about this.  Essentially, it comes down to Thomas really keeping himself off the team, but, there were definitely people that didn’t want him there.  Players and executives.

Isiah Thomas
I didn’t make the team?!

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A look at merchandising for the 1992 Dream Team

Posted in basketball, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, NBA, nostalgia, pop culture, sports with tags , , , , on July 19, 2012 by Paxton

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

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The 1992 Olympic Dream Team debuted just over 20 years ago

Posted in nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , on July 16, 2012 by Paxton

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.

1992 Tournament of the Americas

This particular tournament is important because it was the international debut of the 1992 Men’s Olympic Basketball Team, the original Dream Team.

Dream Team magazine

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.

Larry Bird replica jerseyJazz jersey

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.

1992 USA Olympic Dream Team 20th Anniversary collector cans from 7-Up

Posted in basketball, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, NBA, pop culture, soda, sports with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2012 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

This summer is the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Olympic Men’s basketball team. The original NBA “Dream Team”.  To commemorate this anniversary, 7-up products have a set of 7 collector cans featuring 5 of the legendary team’s members.

2012 Dream Team collector cans

Here is the lineup of cans available.

2012 7-up cans

The five players chosen to represent the “Dream Team” for this set are Magic Johnson (Sunkist), Larry Bird (7-Up), Patrick Ewing (A&W), Scottie Pippen (Sun Drop) and David Robinson (Canada Dry Ginger Ale).  As I said, there are only 5 of the 12 players represented, but there are 7 different cans.  Consequently, Magic Johnson is also on Diet Sunkist and David Robinson is also on Welch’s Grape.  I’m surprised they didn’t go for the full player roster and have 12 collectible player cans.  When I found out about this I was actually concerned that I would have to hunt down 12 more collector cans so soon after my last hunt for cans (see Avengers cans) just ended.  I need not worry now.  I’d like to get all of these cans but I think I’m only getting the Bird and Magic cans.  And I’ll probably get only the Diet Sunkist Magic can.

Larry Bird can Magic Johnson can

Honestly, I’m not surprised about Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley being absent from this set.  They have separate likeness deals that have always made including them in NBA deals dicey.  Jordan rarely showed up as a playable character in NBA Live games in the 90s.  However, why not include cans of Stockton and Malone, Chris Mullin, Clyde “The Glide” Drexler or Christian Laettner (not really missed, btw)?  I’m very saddened by the absence of Stockton and Malone especially.  I was a big fan of the Jazz in the late 80s – early 90s.  I’ve even seen them play at The Delta Center in Salt Lake City.  Next to Larry Bird, John Stockton is my favorite NBA player of all time.  I had planned on just getting the Stockton, Bird and Magic cans, but now, like I said, I’ll have to settle for only the Bird and Magic cans.  Which is fine by me, but I would have really liked to have a Stockton can.

So, the actual anniversary of the selection of the initial 10 Dream Team players is September 21.  I’ll be back then with a small retrospective on the team.  I had planned on doing this retrospective anyway, but it’s nice to see 7-Up, ESPN and the NBA have also remembered the anniversary of this most historic basketball team.

Oh, and NBATV has also been running an hour and a half documentary called The Dream Team.  It covers the selection, practices and tournament play of the team with footage and interviews.  It’s been running several times a day every few days.  Check it out if you get the chance.  Here’s the trailer.