Backstory: 1992 ‘Dream Team’ Vs. College All-Stars

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Chuck Daly’s philosophy was that any team–including The Dream Team–could lose on any given day. He wanted to prove that point.


In the years before the 1992 Olympics, only top collegiate athletes–not the pros–were picked to represent their country in the Olympic games. That changed in 1992. The “Dream Team” was born.

Courtesy: Pinterest

The 1992 Men’s U.S. basketball team featured NBA players. Those chosen in September 1991 included: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls; John Stockton and Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz; Ervin “Magic” Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers; Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics; Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks; Chris Mullin of the Golden State Warriors; David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs; and Charles Barkley of the Philadelphia 76ers. Chuck Daly served as head coach with Lenny Wilkens, P.J. Carlesimo, and Mike Krzyzewski as his assistants.

Clyde Drexler (Portland Trail Blazers) and Isiah Thomas (Detroit Pistons) battled for the final roster spot. Drexler won that final roster spot, but that call wasn’t made until the following May. It was rumored that Jordan told Daly he wouldn’t play with Thomas. If true, it wouldn’t have been a surprise. Thomas and his Pistons were known as the “Bad Boys” due to aggressive play and trash talking.

Meanwhile, the U.S. basketball committee wanted to acknowledge the amateur system and, with that call, wanted to select one player for the roster. The player would be either Christian Laettner of Duke University or Shaquille O’Neal of LSU. Laettner was the pick.

With the full roster now in place the team was assembled at the University of California, San Diego for practice. They would scrimmage a game or two prior to leaving for Barcelona to play in the Olympics. A select team of collegiate all-stars would be the team’s opponent. That team was comprised of Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill (Duke), Penny Hardaway (Memphis), Eric Montross (North Carolina), Allan Houston (Tennessee), and Chris Webber (Michigan).

No press reps were in attendance at the scrimmage … where the seemingly impossible happened: the college all-stars defeated “The Dream Team,” 62-54.

Courtesy: NBC DFW

It’s rumored that Daly ran up to the press box and told the scorekeeper to erase the score before the press walked into the gym. Krzyzewski eventually admitted that Daly actually threw the game because he wanted the professionals to lose. Why? Daly’s philosophy was that any team–no matter how talented–could lose on any given day. He wanted to prove that point.

When the teams got together the next day for a rematch–with Jordan playing the entire game (Daly had reduced Joran’s playing time the day before)–the Olympic team blew away the college all-stars.

We’ll never know if Daly’s tactic was the reason “The Dream Team” went on to perform brilliantly that year. But what we do know is that Jordan and Company coasted to Olympic Gold.

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About Matthew Paris

I grew up an avid Houston sports fan. After graduating from Texas Tech University in Theater and English Literature I worked as a marketing rep and coach for I9 Sports, coaching baseball, flag football, soccer, and basketball. I’m currently with Austin Sports Academy as a marketing coordinator, baseball and football coach, and coordinator of middle school and high school open play nights. I’ve written three short films for Looknow Productions and have also written articles on film marketing, producing, and directing. I really enjoy writing about sports and being an active contributor to The Sports Column.



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