Before Team USA's global domination in 1992, the final score from a never-before-seen scrimmage in San Diego offered a striking story line: College Select Team 62, Dream Team 54. Whether you believe that coach Chuck Daly (above, with his charges) threw the game, as assistant Mike Krzyzewski insists in the sensational documentary The Dream Team, which airs on June 13 at 9 p.m. EDT on NBA TV and repeats throughout the month, is beside the point. The fact remains that a team of collegians, including Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley and Chris Webber, once defeated the famed Dream Team. "We were not into it," recalls Magic Johnson. "And we paid for it."
This is an article from the June 18, 2012 issue
So when the U.S. Olympic basketball team arrived in Monte Carlo for six days of training before the Barcelona Olympics, the position of team alpha dog was still up for grabs. But it didn't take long for one to emerge. During a scrimmage with teams captained by Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, Jordan scored at will, on reverse layups and deadeye jumpers. It's clear on video: Magic was the beta to the alpha Jordan, who punctuated his victory with the subtlety of a viper, sneering, "How do you like that ass-kicking?" at a fallen foe.
Footage of the battles in San Diego and Monte Carlo make for two of the more enjoyable narratives in The Dream Team. The 90-minute film covers the squad from its selection through its gold medal win, and all 12 members of the team were interviewed, a process that began with David Robinson last September and ended with Magic in April.
Jordan, now the owner of the Bobcats, was corralled in January on a Charlotte practice court, and he told producers that he would sit for 15 minutes—but he stuck around for 45. "He opened up about Isiah Thomas [with whom he had beef and who was left off the team] and his relationship with Magic," says director Andy Thompson. "It was revelatory to hear Michael speak candidly."
The film covers U.S. wins over Angola—including Charles Barkley's infamous elbow—and Croatia, during which Jordan and Scottie Pippen hounded a 22-year-old Toni Kukoc. But the most compelling moments come from NBA vault footage, such as John Stockton's going unrecognized on Barcelona's famed Las Ramblas ("Have you been watching the Dream Team?" he asks unknowing American fans) and trash talk among Larry Bird, Jordan and Magic (below) at a photo shoot. "These old guys, they got arthritis," riffs Jordan. "They can't stand in one spot too long."
"There was a mystique behind these guys," says Thompson, who shot much of the behind-the-scenes footage in '92 while covering the team for NBA Entertainment. "Their lives were not open like [they are] now, in the Twitter age. And that helps propel the story."
THEY SAID IT
"It's not like 9/11 ... like people are going to be, like, '6/8 was horrible. Do you remember where you were on 6/8?'"
I'll Have Another's trainer, playing down his horse's scratch, on June 8, from the Belmont Stakes.