The most dominant team ever assembled in the history of basketball, the famous Dream Team of 1992 still inspires young and old alike 30 years after its surge in Barcelona. But recently, one of its illustrious members made it known that a player should not have been present according to him …
If Team USA is still the main attraction of any international basketball competition, none will have the sparkle of that of the Barcelona Olympics, when Michael jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and others have massacred the competition and aroused the admiration of fans, the media … and even their counterparts in the Olympic Village.
Put together very carefully, the roster had two notable absentees: Isiah Thomas, who paid his personal beefs with several of the team’s superstars, and Shaquille O’Neal. The federation had indeed to build the team with 11 NBA players and one from the university. Despite Diesel’s dominant season with LSU, it was Christian Laettner, then NCAA mega-star, who was chosen.
Scottie Pippen disagrees with the presence of a player in the Dream Team
With hindsight, and given the careers of the two men, it was not necessarily the best choice. In fact, Laettner is the only one in the troop who is not a Hall of Famer – the other 11 players have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and so has the Shaq. A casting error? This is what Scottie Pippen thinks, who made it known in his famous book « Unguarded » :
I agreed with all the choices that were made, except that of Christian Laettner. I didn’t think it would fit, and I was right. The committee should have chosen another NBA player, and many of them were worthy of having that honor. My favorite was Dominique Wilkins.
Now, Pip is not wrong. The dazzling Hawks winger would have had more of a place in the squad, without disrespecting Laettner. Drafted in the summer of 1992 by the Wolves, the former Duke played 868 games in the NBA for averages of 12.8 points and 6.7 rebounds. Nothing disastrous, obviously, but it is clearly not of the same caliber as the other names mentioned.
Once is not custom, Scottie Pippen had the nose hollow by being critical of the choice to invite Christian Laettner to take part in the Olympics with the Dream Team. He himself does not keep a great memory of it, he did not feel out of place …