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.
• Back home, Badalona won its second straight ACB championship in its third title appearance in four years. Madrid would need to acquire Arvydas Sabonis to end Joventutian dominance of Spain and take titles in 1992-93 and 1993-94.
• Speaking of the big Lithuanian, here’s a random “Awesome Sabonis pass” for Team Lithuania.
• Changing of the guard was happening in the Greek League in 1992, it seems. Dusan Ivkovic guided PAOK BC in knocking off Aris Thessaloniki (who’d won seven consecutive EΣAKE titles and eight of the previous nine) and Olympiacos for the national title. Though PAOK had won the European Cup Winners’ Cup (now Eurocup) in 1991 and placed in ’92, this side would never get close to a Greek championship again. And beginning in 1992, Olympiacos and Panathinaikos would eclipse Hellas pro ball by taking all but one of the next 20 titles.
• Local history was made in Italy, too, as Treviso Basket took its first Serie A title with Toni Kukoc starring, Stefano Rusconi and Vinny Del Negro (!) supporting.
• Finally, to the USA … of course, the NBA in 1991-92 was mostly on one topic: the Chicago Bulls. Dream Teamers Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the Invincibulls to a 67-15 record; the sole stumbling block for this defending champion side were Clyde Drexler’s Portland Trail Blazers – and even they weren’t much of a problem, really. Check out the nice documentary on the 1991-92 Bulls below when you get 45 minutes.
• In the NCAA ranks, the Kentucky-Duke semifinal game of March Madness may be one that has lived up to the instant hyperbolization, i.e. The Greatest College Basketball Game Ever Played. A good highlight clip of the game is marked with the dreaded “embedding disabled upon request” label, but some reminiscing about the “Laettner Game” follows. (See? There was a reason ol’ Late made the Dream Team…)
Tomorrow: The Dream Team and its players