August 8, 2012

Citadel Basketball Sophomores Take A Different Look at 1992 "Dream Team"

Every year Beloit College releases a Mind-Set List that details certain occurrences that students entering college would have not had the opportunity to experience since the time of their birth. Among the more recent lists, for those entering college classes in 2011, who were typically born in 1992, includes the fact that they have never had the experience of "rolling down" a car window.

That very same concept can be applied to the 2012 Olympic Games which marks the 20th anniversary of the first basketball "Dream Team." Some of us can turn back the clocks of our mind to reminisce to the summer of 1992, where Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird highlighted one of the greatest collective units of basketball talent ever assembled on one court.

However, all but two rising sophomores on The Citadel basketball team, Lawrence Miller and Dylan Setzekorn, were even born when the Dream Team took on the world in 1992. The United States captured gold by an average of 43.4 points per game, which included five wins of more than 40 points in Barcelona.

The accomplishments of the "Dream Team" were documented in newspapers, not on websites. Their daily activities were undocumented, not appearing on the likes of Twitter or Facebook, and their privacy was so guarded that at one point they held a closed practice inside a locked gymnasium with no members of the press corps in attendance.

A lot has changed about the game since that time, the shorts have gotten much longer and the socks much shorter. The NCAA Tournament has expanded from a field of 64 to include 68 teams. The endorsement of the game has changed as well, moving from a time frame in which Jordan had his own recognized brand of shoe and sharing the airwaves with the likes of Bird, Johnson and even Charles Barkley to a point where basketball players serve as pitchmen for a variety of products. The now "boring" hightops have been replaced by shoes with computers. Charles Barkley is now an announcer, surprisingly, and Michael Jordan is a majority owner in his own franchise.

With all that being said, this writer took the opportunity to sit down with members of the Bulldogs basketball team and gather their insight on the 1992 Dream Team and how much the game has changed since that time.

How many players can you name off the first ever Dream Team without looking it up on Google?

C.J. Bray: "I know that Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen were on the team."

Marshall Harris III: "I am sure of Christian Laettner, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing and Larry Bird."

P.J. Horgan: "Without looking I know that Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley were on the 1992 Olympic team."

Michael Hundley: "I could name every single player except Chris Mullin. I confuse him sometime with some other people, but I know a lot about basketball history so I could pretty much name the whole team."
Lawrence Miller:  "Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Clyde Drexler." 

Ashton Moore: "I can name eight members of the 1992 Dream Team."

Dylen Setzekorn: "Without looking it up I know Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Christian Laettner, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen."

On the 1992 Dream Team there was one player, Christian Laettner (Duke), who had no professional experience heading into the game. How difficult do you think it was for him to be vocal with players such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in practice and in a game?

C.J. Bray: "That had to be very hard on him to adjust to being a top collegiate player to fitting in with those guys. It must have been a huge adjustment to make."

Marshall Harris III: "This had to be a really tough challenge for him. Coming out of college and being on the same team with the greatest players in the world at the time. I'm pretty sure he felt a little inferior with them. I know being a freshman on a college basketball team is tough and you have to prove yourself to the upperclassmen who have been there already you belong there. He was at a completely different level and I know was hard task."

P.J. Horgan: "As a college player myself I know that would be super intimidating to go in and be able to say anything to them in practice. However, it would also be something that you can embrace, because you can learn so much from players that were at the top of their game."

Michael Hundley: "It would be very hard for Christian Laettner to be vocal around all those superstars. I'm pretty sure he laughed a lot and just sat there and agreed with everything the players had to say to him."

Lawrence Miller: "It would be very difficult because he has no professional experience. Basically he was there to learn from the other guys so that he can transition from college of the NBA. I think that it would be hard for Christian to be vocal because he hasn't played a single game in the NBA."

Ashton Moore: "I am sure it would be very difficult for Christian Laettner because he is coming straight from college where he was the best player on team composed of NCAA Division I athletes. Then he went immediately to a team composed of superstars, who all have professional experience."

Dylen Setzekorn:  "Realistically I doubt Christian was even allowed to talk at practice. It had to be nearly impossible for him to say anything to those guys."

Looking at this list, who would you most like to have a one-on-one game with and why?

Christian Laettner
David Robinson
Patrick Ewing
Larry Bird
Scottie Pippen
Michael Jordan
Clyde Drexler
Karl Malone
John Stockton
Chris Mullin
Charles Barkley
Magic Johnson

C.J. Bray: "Michael Jordan, because I would like to say against the best that ever played the game."

Marshall Harris III: "I would play John Stockton because he was a point guard and closest to my size. As a point guard myself, I feel most comfortable playing against someone at the same position."

P.J. Horgan: "Michael Jordan without a doubt. He's the best and most competitive player to ever play the game."

Michael Hundley: "I would love to have a one on one game with Michael Jordan because everyone says he is the best so I want to see for myself."
Lawrence Miller:  "I would love to play Michael Jordan one-on-one because I could learn so much about the game from him. I would be able to find out how hard he had to work to call himself the greatest basketball player of all time."

Ashton Moore: "I would definitely have to say Michael Jordan because most say he is the best to ever play the game."

Dylen Setzekorn: "In a one-on-one game I'd most like to play Larry Bird. He was one of the best players ever to touch a basketball and it would be an incredible experience to play against someone like that. All the other players on that team were great but I feel like Bird is special in basketball history. I'd love a chance to talk with him let alone play him."

What do you think that these players did for the game of basketball that you play?

C.J. Bray: "These players set the bar for the best of the best to ever play the game."

Marshall Harris III: "They made a statement that the United States has the best basketball players and that we should dominate the game. They also made people in other countries become more interested in basketball making it more of a universal sport. "

P.J. Horgan: "They all played the game with their own unique style. It showed that you can play the game with any style that you so choose."

Michael Hundley: "The overseas play was not nearly as good back then as it is today. They didn't have game changing players such as Tony Parker, Paul Gasol, Manu Ginobli and Joakim Noah."

Lawrence Miller: "Being that they are the ones who created the great atmosphere of the game of basketball. They also showed that they played the game because they love the game and not for the money. They also showed competitive they were during practices and games."

Ashton Moore: "These players definitely changed the way the game was played. Prior to them, the world had never seen the game played at such a fast pace due to their athletic abilities."

Dylen Setzekorn: "In terms of how these players impacted the game of basketball, they changed the impact of basketball globally. Their influence around the world took basketball and made it popular internationally and established a precedent for the game in terms of international competition. These days you see a lot of international players competing for their respective countries as well as in the league and this can be attributed to the Dream Team's impact globally."

If you can make a list of 5-10 players, including YOURSELF, and your own "Dream Team," who would you pick to represent the United States at the Olympics?

C.J. Bray: "My choices would be Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant along with myself."

Marshall Harris III: "I would choose either the 2008 or 2012 teams because they are the best players in this country and they are very professional."

P.J. Horgan: "My team would consist of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, LeBron James and myself."

Michael Hundley: "The 2008 "Redemption Team" with Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony among others, would be my first selections. I believe that group could beat the "Dream Team," despite Malone, Ewing and Robinson being bigger, because the 2008 team would be faster and more athletic."

Lawrence Miller: "I would pick Kobe Bryant, Lawrence Miller, Michael Jordan, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Shaquille O'Neal, Scottie Pippen, and Reggie Miller."

Ashton Moore: "Myself, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Jamal Crawford, LeBron James and Chris Paul."

Dylen Setzekorn: "If I could assemble a "Dream Team" starting with myself I would choose Russell Westbrook as the point guard. Internationally there are no point guards athletic enough to handle him. At the shooting guard I'd choose Dwyane Wade, at the small forward position I'd select Kevin Durant, the power forward would be Josh Smith and the center would be Dwight Howard. The sixth man would be James Harden."