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Jul
4

Twenty years ago today: The Barcelona Games

The 1992 Olympic Games, the Games of the XXV Olympiad: The first to be held without mass boycotts and, by many estimation, the greatest Olympics ever in presentation, hosting, and competition. It was the Games of Hungarian swimmer Krisztina Egerszegi, of Belorussian/Unified Team member Vitaly Scherbo in gymnastics, of the Russian men’s swimming team, of Cuban baseball – but most of all it was basketball that took center stage on the worldwide court in Barcelona.

On this day in 1992, the Dream Team, Team Croatia and Team Lithuania played in their first-ever Olympic basketball games. In memory of these fantastic, historically significant squads, BallinEurope presents some highlight clips from the ’92 Games.

Day one of 1992 Olympic basketball saw the tournament’s powers take care of business: tie-dyed Lithuania handled China, 112-75; Croatia bested Brazil, 93-76; and the stripped-down CIS/USSR side got past Venezuela, 78-64. Of course, the game the world was watching that day would be the biggest laugher of the entire competition: The Dream Team’s infamous 116-48 decimation of Angola.

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Jul
2

Twenty years ago today: The Road to Barcelona

All right, so it wasn’t exactly twenty years ago today per se, but the current Argentina-Spain-US tournament playing these days brought to mind some of the warmup games in 1992 – at that time, all the Dream Teams kept us enthralled as we imagined the upcoming clashes in Barcelona.

So today another chapter in BallinEurope’s series looking back at ‘92 runs below – just a couple of quickies on qualifying games before the tournament. And Charles Barkley.

• The Dream Team’s first appearance had them opening the Tournament of the Americas in Portland, an Olympic qualifying round (giggle), against Cuba. Team USA ultimately went 6-0 in the tourney, rolling over opponents by an average score of 121-70; it all began with a 136-57 victory over Cuba which ultimately elicited the old Cuban adage “You can’t cover the sun with your finger” from head coach Miguel Calderon Gomez.

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Jul
1

Twenty years ago today: The greatest in his greatest season

Drazen Petrovic: The name is always mentioned in any discussion of all-time greatest European player, his effect inestimable, his ultimate greatness unknowable. BallinEurope has waxed poetic on the Basketball Mozart innumerable times already, but must say that lost in the general hoopla of the Dream Team in 1992 was the fact that one of the world’s top three or four players at that time (BiE’d put him with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen) wasn’t on Team USA.

Following a year which saw the dissolution of his Team Yugoslavia and the finalization of his demanded trade to the New Jersey Nets, Petrovic’s brilliant 1991-92 season earned him a deserved reputation among the NBA elites. The stats say the Croat led the Nets in points (20.6 per game), shooting percentage (50.8%), three-point percentage (44.4%) and minutes played (36.9 per game with appearances in all 82 games), but they just called him team MVP.

Along with Derrick Coleman, Petrovic helped the Nets to a 14-win increase over 1990-91 and the playoffs, racking up some amazing individual performances such as the 29 he dropped on the Boston Celtics early in that season…

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Jul
2

Twenty Years Ago Today: A European Dream Team for 1992

When basketball fans look back on the 1992 Olympic Games, the top three topics are the awesomeness of the Dream Team, the success of Lithuania playing its first Olympic hoops as an independent nation, and the success of Croatia playing its first Olympic hoops as an independent nation.

Fair enough, BiE supposes, but what about those other NBA-level and/or Euroleague-dominating players in the Barcelona tournament? And what about the historical story surrounding Europe’s other three teams in those ‘Games? Herewith, a European Dream Team of sorts for the ‘92 Olympics plus a tiny bit of backstory and lotsa highlight clips.

As host nation, Team Spain received an automatic bid to the Barcelona Games. Though no slouches in Olympic play – Los Rojos had earned a spot in five of the six previous tournaments, including a silver-medal finish in the Soviet boycott Games of 1984 – history shows that more important in the bigger picture was that 12-year-olds such as Juan Carlos Navarro and Pau Gasol were watching and gaining inspiration.

Spain finished in ninth place after going 1-4 in group play (including a 122-81 drubbing at the hands of the Dreams) and were led in ’92 by long-time national team stars Jordi Villacampa

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Jul
0

Twenty years ago today: Recalling the Dream Team roster annoucement

BallinEurope continues with its look back at 1992 through the YouTube scope with a rundown of players on that Team USA of legend, a.k.a. The Dream Team. This of course means highlight clips of some of the greatest ever to have played the game … enjoy!

To start this one off, a personal reminiscence … the announcement of the long-awaited “Dream Team” roster was one of the great “Where Were You When” sports moments of my 20s. In early 1990s America, we had no internet and maybe three sports TV networks to choose from. Really speedy rumors traveled by fax machine and speculative chatter was relegated to sports talk radio.

Needless to say, in 1992, the Team USA basketball selection team was able to keep a tight cap on their priceless information – the superteam roster – until evening-edition newspapers were printed and local/prime-time news shows were ready to air. Crazy.

Sure, there were rumors. We heard Magic Johnson was being discussed, though he’d retired after the 1991-92 NBA season after announcing his HIV-positive condition. We heard Larry Bird might not play, in line with his intention to retire from the game after the playoffs. We heard bizarre stuff about Michael Jordan demanding that Isiah Thomas be excluded from the team.

But we didn’t know, y’know?

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Jul
1

Twenty years ago today: Champions in Europe and USA, 1992

In celebration of certainly still the most significant year in international basketball history, BallinEurope today begins the “Twenty years ago today” series in which we’ll peer back in time through the lens of YouTube to that era of morphing European national teams and Dream Team dominance.

In the wake of that Greatest Basketball Team Ever Assembled, much of the 1991-92 professional seasons themselves get the short shrift in the history books, but some quite interesting stuff was nevertheless happening on the Continent.

• The Euroleague boasted a cliffhanging thriller in Partizan Belgrade vs. Joventut Badalona. Badalona brought Harold Pressley (with averages of 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per EL game) and Rafael Jofresa, while the Black-and-Whites boasted local products Predrag Danilovic and Aleksanda Djordjevic. It was the latter who’d deliver the European championship to the storied franchise for its first and, to date, last such title ever.

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