On July 25, 1992, the Dream Team, the first U.S. national team made up of professional NBA players to participate in the Olympic Games, began the journey to show where the best basketball players in the world were and ended with gold in Barcelona ’92, which washed away the painful loss to the USSR in Seoul ’88, when the USA Team had to settle for bronze.

This team is considered the best of all time in world basketball, as it managed to bring together the best players available in the world, in a meeting of two generations that at the end of the Olympic tournament swept to an 8-0 record and an average margin of victory of more than 40 points.

As the years went by, it became known that the road to form the one and only “Dream Team” was not an easy one, as it included a long series of negotiations and a terrible battle of egos that was on the verge of collapsing before the start of the tournament.

An example of this was a historic training session that took place on July 22, 1992, in which the two sides of the USA Team faced each other: the new generation of great players led by Michael Jordan and the legends of the 80’s who had to give up their place, led by Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird.

The NBA game of the century

On July 21, the future Dream Team had easily defeated France 111-71 in its most recent preparation game, but the team’s performance had not convinced coach Chuck Daly and, therefore, he thought of pitting his players against each other in a game where their NBA rivalries could come to the surface.

The game (not practice) took place the following day at the Louis II stadium in the Principality of Monaco. It was held in four quarters, with referees present and only one journalist, Jack McCallum, who wrote a book about the game. In addition, a recording was made and released to the press several years later, when the Dream Team had already achieved its goal.

John Stockton of the Utah Jazz did not participate in the game due to injury. The captains were the two main figures of the team: MJ and ‘Magic’ Johnson. Each one chose his cadre:

Team Jordan:

Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing.

Team ‘Magic’:

Chris Mullin, Charles Barkley, David Robinson and Clyde Drexler, while NCAA star Christian Laettner played on this side, but they really didn’t give the rest of the players a thought.

Coach Daly’s instruction was simple, “I want everything you’ve got.”

Testimonials from the historic game:

Years later, Michael Jordan acknowledged:

“It was the best game I ever participated in. No coaches, although there was a referee who barely blew the whistle. You had ten ‘Hall of Famers’ playing against each other showing the maximum of their competitiveness, their desire to win, resisting trash talking, all the beautiful things of the game were reflected in one game,” said Michael Jordan.

Then, ‘Magic’ asked Clyde Drexler for the ball and cashed in on the affront:

“Michael went and got everybody and said, ‘this is what I’m going to do to you,’ and he let loose a long shot on that incredible hang in the air and…. It’s good!” after which Michael exclaimed ‘What did I tell you?'” ‘Magic’ Johnson.

Subsequently, “Barkley said, ‘I want to go get Karl Malone now,’ he hovered in the air and…. The shot was good!’ and then I said, ‘oh, Karl, you better give it back to him,'” the Lakers star explained.

Malone took the ball and made the basket, while challenging his opponent, “You’re nothing, Barkley, you’re nothing.”

“MJ’s energy was really high. He saw the opportunity to prove himself and state, ‘Look, I’m still better than ‘Magic’ Johnson and I’m still dominating this game,'” said ‘Magic’ Jonhson

For his part, Scottie Pippen, his squire with the Chicago Bulls recalled, “Michael had that look and you know when you see it that you’ve got to give him the ball and step aside. ‘Magic’ refused to give up his place as the most dominant in the league, Jordan played to show everyone that he was the king.”

Because of the intensity of the game, Daly wanted to end the game, but the trailing “Magic” team resisted. Finally, Jordan’s team prevailed and after that game a new era of professional basketball was born, where MJ became the all-time greatest figure in world basketball.

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