Twenty years ago at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the Dream Team restored the United States to prominence in basketball, a game it had long dominated on the international level. After settling for bronze at the 1988 Games – the last Olympics that did not allow professional athletes – U.S. Olympic officials and the NBA united to send a team composed of all-timers, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Charles Barkley. They cruised to the gold at Barcelona, drubbing opposing teams who seemed more interested in autographs than actually defeating their NBA heroes.
This Wednesday, NBA TV will air a 90-minute documentary about that legendary squad, but the juiciest detail is about which player was not on the team. Ever since the Dream Team was selected in 1991, it has been suspected that Michael Jordan had used his influence to keep Isiah Thomas – a hated rival who once attempted to freeze a young Jordan out during an all-star game – off the team. Jordan always denied any involvement in that decision, but promos for the new doc hint that the matter will finally be addressed. Take a look.
Scottie Pippen has hinted at the tension that may have kept Thomas off the squad, and in a recent ESPN “Outside the Lines” special – which is informed by an upcoming book about the Dream Team by Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum – Magic Johnson acknowledged that Thomas rubbed some of his Olympic teammates, notably Jordan, the wrong way.
The Dream Team premieres June 13 at 9 p.m. ET on NBA TV.