Dream Team

From Academic Kids

For the TV series of the same name, see Dream Team.

The Dream Team was the unofficial nickname of the United States men's basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. This team is generally regarded as the single greatest collection of talent on one actually competitive basketball team of all time (and possibly in any sport). New rules allowed professional athletes to play at the Olympics for the first time. The Dream Team qualified for the Olympics after having a 6-0 record in the Men's Tournament of the Americas.

In 1996 and 2000, Dream Teams II and III captured the gold medals. However, Dream Team IV's performance in the 2004 Summer Olympics all but denied them, and perhaps future teams, the right to the "Dream Team" nickname. They lost three games on their way to a bronze medal. That record represented more losses in a single year than in the 68 previous years combined. It was also the first time since NBA professionals became eligible that the U.S. men's basketball team returned home without gold medals.


Dream Team I

Dream Team I featured Michael Jordan, and a number of others among those who are considered the best basketballers in history:

Dream Team I Lineup

Missing image
The original Dream Team's starters. Top Row: Barkley, Ewing, Malone Bottom: Johnson, Jordan

Because of this star line-up, the team's games usually began with the opposite team taking pictures of their opponents - their idols.

The team won all of its games by huge margins, beating Croatia in the gold medal game by 32 points. Whilst the opportunity to see the game's greats playing together was appreciated, the team's occasionally belittling attitude to opponents was not.

Interestingly, Stockton was the only Dream Team member to wear his normal number in the Olympics (12). In fact, he was the only Dream Team member who could wear his normal number. In international tournaments, player numbers are restricted to those between 4 and 15; all other Dream Team members normally wore numbers outside the allowable range.

Results at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona

  • USA 111 France 71 (Pre-Olympics in Monte Carlo, Monaco)
  • USA 116 Angola 48
  • USA 103 Croatia 70
  • USA 111 Germany 68
  • USA 127 Brazil 83
  • USA 122 Spain 81
  • USA 115 Puerto Rico 77
  • USA 127 Lithuania 76
  • USA 117 Croatia 85

Final Standings at Barcelona 1992

  1. United States (8-0)
  2. Croatia (6-2)
  3. Lithuania (6-2)
  4. Commonwealth of Independent States (5-3)
  5. Brazil (4-4)
  6. Australia (4-4)
  7. Germany (3-5)
  8. Puerto Rico (3-5)
  9. Spain (3-4)
  10. Angola (2-5)
  11. Venezuela (2-5)
  12. China (0-7)

Dream Team II

The second Dream Team participated in the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta. Though the star quality of team was not as impressive as the previous team, Dream Team II still had incredible, talented players, including NBA MVPs and some of the young stars of the time.

Dream Team II Line-up

Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, and David Robinson were the only players who participated in both Dream Teams I and II.

Dream Team II cruised through the 1996 Olympics, defeating every other team by margins greater than 20 points. They captured the Gold Medal after defeating Yugoslavia 95-69. Lenny Wilkens coached this team, and they definitively lived up to the expectations of the thousands of fans that went to see their home team. Dream Team II was the last of the "invincible" Dream Teams.

Results at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta

  • USA 96 Argentina 68
  • USA 87 Angola 54
  • USA 104 Lithuania 82
  • USA 133 China 70
  • USA 102 Croatia 71
  • USA 98 Brazil 75
  • USA 101 Australia 73
  • USA 95 Yugoslavia 69

Final Standings at Atlanta 1996

  1. United States (8-0)
  2. Yugoslavia (7-1)
  3. Lithuania (5-3)
  4. Australia (5-3)
  5. Greece (5-3)
  6. Brazil (3-5)
  7. Croatia (4-4)
  8. China (2-6)
  9. Argentina (3-4)
  10. Puerto Rico (2-5)
  11. Angola (1-6)
  12. South Korea (0-7)

Dream Team III

During the late nineties, international basketball began to gather attention as more and more foreign players became stars in the NBA. Therefore, Dream Team III had the enormous task of proving that USA Basketball was still the most dominant of the world. The new team that was assembled featured NBA players but this time, very few of them were dominant superstars. Instead, Dream Team III featured for the first time "average" NBA players.

Line-up of Dream Team III

Dream Team III participated in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and was coached by Rudy Tomjanovich. It began by defeating its first rivals by large margins but suddenly the margins began to shrink. The preliminary game against Lithuania 85-76 was the first time a Dream Team failed to win by double digits.

A major shock came on the semifinals game when Lithuania fell to the Dream Team by only two points, 85-83, after Lithuanian star Sarunas Jasikevicius missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game. Dream Team III eventually won the Gold Medal against France in a very close game, which the Americans won 85-75. Though Dream Team III won the 2000 Olympics undefeated, for the very first time the American superstar team began to lose its aura of invincibility.

Results of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney

  • USA 119 China 72
  • USA 93 Italy 61
  • USA 85 Lithuania 76
  • USA 102 New Zealand 56
  • USA 106 France 94
  • USA 85 Russia 70
  • USA 85 Lithuania 83
  • USA 85 France 75

Final Standings at Sydney 2000

  1. United States (8-0)
  2. France (4-4)
  3. Lithuania (5-3)
  4. Australia (4-4)
  5. Italy(4-3)
  6. Yugoslavia (4-3)
  7. Canada (5-2)
  8. Russia (3-4)
  9. Spain (2-4)
  10. China (2-4)
  11. New Zealand (1-5)
  12. Angola (0-6)

Dream Team IV

After more than ten NBA superstars declined invitations to play on Dream Team IV, the team that was assembled to represent the United States in the 2004 Summer Olympics generally consisted of NBA players who fit into one of two categories: young, or good-but-not-great. The only established superstars to accept invitations to play basketball at the 2004 Summer Olympics were Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson.

Dream Team IV Line-up

"Dream Team IV" was coached by Larry Brown.

Although the team was sometimes called a "Dream Team" because it was composed of NBA players, it is likely that the media will end the use of that nickname after their performance. Indeed, some media outlets took to calling them the "Nightmare Team." "Dream Team IV" was defeated by Italy by 17 points in a friendly game in Cologne, Germany; two days later, also in Cologne, the "Dream Team" needed an Iverson three-pointer from just inside the half-court line to keep its friendly game against Germany from going into overtime. For the very first time, the world saw that in fact the "Dream Team" was beatable. The vulnerability of the Americans was confirmed on August 15, 2004 when the Puerto Rican National Basketball Team defeated them 92-73 in the very first game of the 2004 Olympics in Athens. It was only the third Olympic basketball defeat ever in the history of the United States and the first one for a Dream Team. Carlos Arroyo of Puerto Rico led the attack in the game that demonstrated that international basketball had caught up with the NBA.

After winning close games against Greece and Australia, the U.S. team lost another game against Lithuania, dropping to 2-2 in the Olympic tournament. Sarunas Jasikevicius, who missed a three-pointer that would have beaten the U.S. in the semifinals four years earlier at Sydney, scored 28 points to lead the Lithuanians.

Even though they managed to win easily against Angola, 89-53, because of the goal average rules Dream Team IV entered the quarterfinal round in 4th place, the lowest seed of their group. The Americans faced undefeated Spain in their quarterfinal game and finally put up a dominant performance. Led by Stephon Marbury's 31 points, Dream Team IV defeated the Spaniards 102-94, eliminating them from medal contention.

The most disappointing moment for the team came in the semifinals when they were defeated by Argentina 89-81, ending the Dream Team's lock on the gold medal. Dream Team IV ended the Olympics with 104-96 win over Lithuania to win the bronze medal. It marked only the third time that an American team failed to win gold, and the first time for a Dream Team. Before 2004, the American team only lost two games in all previous Olympic tournaments, whereas this one lost three.

Results at the 2004 Olympics in Athens

  • USA 73 Puerto Rico 92
  • USA 77 Greece 71
  • USA 89 Australia 79
  • USA 90 Lithuania 94
  • USA 89 Angola 53
  • USA 102 Spain 94
  • USA 81 Argentina 89
  • USA 104 Lithuania 96

Final Standings at Athens 2004

  1. Argentina 6-2
  2. Italy 6-2
  3. United States 5-3
  4. Lithuania 6-2
  5. Greece 4-3
  6. Puerto Rico 3-4
  7. Spain 6-1
  8. China 2-5
  9. Australia 2-4
  10. New Zealand 1-5
  11. Serbia & Montenegro 2-4
  12. Angola 0-6da:Dream Team

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