Book Review: Dream Team by Jack McCallum

  • As the 2012 version of the “Dream Team” began competition yesterday by methodically dismantling Team France, Jack McCallum has released a full access memorandum of the 1992 Dream Team from Barcelona. Dubbed by many as the best organized sports team ever, this book covers the Dreamers through the selection process and into the medal round, featuring 1-on-1 interviews with each participant. This is a well written account that is a must read for any interested fan, detailing the leagues biggest stars through one of the sports most important time periods.

  • Most appealing to Celtics fans will be following Larry Bird through his last moments as a competitive hoops player. The book detailed the inordinate amount of back pain Bird went through, at times unable to sleep at night or even sit in a chair due to his balky back. Still, though severely limited as a player, Bird clearly commanded immense respect as one of the 2 captains on the squad. The book also examined his unlikely friendship with Pat Ewing--they would be known as “Harry and Larry”—shedding light on the end of Bird’s legendary career.

A Couple other highlights

  • USA Basketball, against the USOC’s wishes, arranged for the team to stay outside of the Olympic Village in a hotel due to their unprecedented popularity and fan appeal. 9 months before the games were to commence, it was realized that no hotel was suitable in Barcelona in a good location for the Dream Team to stay. No problem at all, as an entire hotel  was built just for the Team USA. “The Ambassador” was dominated by USA Basketball during the duration of the Olympics, with the exception of 2 room-renters from the outside world, Spike Lee and Ahmad Rashad (“Jordan’s Guys”).

  • All MJ, All the Time. These Olympics came during the pinnacle of Jordan’s career. Fresh off of two championships, with Bird and Magic fading as they got older, Jordan was simply the most popular celebrity in the world at the time. The team crafted its schedule around his Tee times. He was so worried about the Semi-Final game against Lithuania that he played 36 holes of golf immediately beforehand. As legend has it, he barely slept the whole trip between Basketball, Golf, and his Gambling. Still, his competitive drive and ruthless on-court all around play set the tone for the team, with his teammates knowing full well that it was “Michael’s Team”, even with Bird and Magic serving as team captains.

Jordan Controversially covered the Reebok Insignia with an American Flag at the Medal Ceremony

  • Getting to know all the guys. Each player (and Coach Daly) had individual chapters and significant time devoted to explaining their story and where they came from. This provided a good opportunity to get to know some of the unheralded guys on the team like Mullin, Robinson and Stockton. Additionally, some of the most interesting information in the book comes from McCallum detailing exactly why Isiah was left off of the team, and the circumstances that rendered him effectively undesirable.