Dream Team by Jack McCallum (2012)
by Jack McCallum
Ballantine Books, 2012
In 1992, everyone in America was a basketball fan thanks to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and the rest of the “Dream Team” that played for the United States in the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. For the first time in history, professional basketball players were permitted to compete in the Games, as each country was truly allowed to send its best representatives. Author Jack McCallum, covering the team for Sports Illustrated, recounts the year that basketball ruled the Olympics more than any time before.
McCallum spends the first hundred pages talking about the team members and the selection process. In addition to Jordan, Johnson, and Bird, there was Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, and the token college guy, Christian Laettner. The underlying theme in almost every chapter of this first hundred pages was not so much how these players deserved their spot on the roster, but why Pistons guard Isiah Thomas was excluded from the list. Of course, Thomas was not the only player that could have been argued for, but he was the most glaring omission.
After dealing with each of these players, McCallum gets into the Games themselves, beginning with the practice sessions in San Diego and on through to the final game in Barcelona. Fresh interviews of the players involved bring back memories of Toni Kukoc, Drazen Petrovic, and other opponents. A deep reverence is displayed for the late Chuck Daly. However, McCallum does not pull punches on his subjects, painting Jordan at times as a bitter ego-maniac, Bird as a foul-mouthed trash talker, Laettner as a spoiled brat. People mature over time, and act differently depending on their surroundings (Barkley being the exception to those two statements), but McCallum presents them as they were at the time without apology.
The impact the Dream Team had on youngsters internationally, from Tony Parker to Dirk Nowitzki, will never be duplicated. It was a grand experiment that worked in 1992, even if it never worked the same afterward. Never again will there be a group of players with so much talent and influence. Dream Team by Jack McCallum is a great tribute to that great team, and should be on the bookshelf of every basketball fan.
Posted on October 9, 2012, in basketball, books, reviews and tagged Ballantine Books, Dream Team, Jack McCallum, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Olympics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.