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Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever [Hardcover]

Jack McCallum
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 10 2012
They were the Beatles of basketball, the Mercury Seven in sneakers.
 
In Dream Team, acclaimed sports journalist Jack McCallum delivers the untold story of the greatest team ever assembled: the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team that captivated the world, kindled the hoop dreams of countless children around the planet, and remade the NBA into a global sensation.
 
As a senior staff writer for Sports Illustrated, McCallum enjoyed a courtside seat for the most exciting basketball spectacle on earth, covering the Dream Team from its inception to the gold medal ceremony in Barcelona. For the duration of the Olympics, he lived with, golfed with, and—most important—drank with some of the greatest players of the NBA’s Golden Age: Magic Johnson, the ebullient showman who shrugged off his recent diagnosis of HIV to become the team’s unquestioned captain and leader; Michael Jordan, the transcendent talent at the height of his powers as a player—and a marketing juggernaut; and Charles Barkley, the outspoken iconoclast whose utterances on and off the court threatened to ignite an international incident. Presiding over the entire traveling circus was the Dream Team’s beloved coach, Chuck Daly, whose laissez-faire approach proved instrumental in getting the most out of such disparate personalities and superstars such as Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, and Scottie Pippen.
 
Drawing on fresh interviews with the players, McCallum provides the definitive account of the Dream Team phenomenon. He offers a behind-the-scenes look at the controversial selection process. He takes us inside the team’s Olympic suites for late-night card games and bull sessions where the players debate both the finer points of basketball and their respective places in the NBA pantheon. And he narrates a riveting possession-by-possession account of the legendary July 1992 intrasquad scrimmage that pitted the Dream Teamers against one another in what may have been the greatest pickup game—and the greatest exhibition of trash talk—in history.
 
In the twenty years since the Dream Team first captivated the world’s attention, its mystique has only grown—and so has its influence. The NBA is now flush with international stars, many of them inspired by the exuberant spirit of ’92. Dream Team vividly re-creates the moment when a once-in-a-millennium group of athletes came together, outperformed the hype, and changed the future of sports—one perfectly executed fast break at a time.
 
The Dream Team was . . .
 
Michael Jordan, Guard, Chicago Bulls
Magic Johnson, Guard, Los Angeles Lakers
Larry Bird, Forward, Boston Celtics
Charles Barkley, Forward, Phoenix Suns
Chris Mullin, Forward, Golden State Warriors
Scottie Pippen, Forward, Chicago Bulls
John Stockton, Guard, Utah Jazz
Karl Malone, Forward, Utah Jazz
David Robinson, Center, San Antonio Spurs
Patrick Ewing, Center, New York Knicks
Christian Laettner, Forward, Duke University
Clyde Drexler, Guard, Portland Trailblazers

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Review

“The absolute definitive work on the subject, a perfectly wonderful once-you-pick-it-up-you-won’t-be-able-to-put-it-down book.”—The Boston Globe
 
“An Olympic hoops dream.”—Newsday
 
“What makes this volume a must-read for nostalgic hoopsters are the robust portraits of the outsize personalities of the participants, all of whom were remarkably open with McCallum, both then and now.”—Booklist (starred review)
 
“One of the best basketball books you’ll ever read.”—The New York Post
 
“A great read for basketball junkies.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“[A] stellar retrospective.”—The New York Times

“The Dream Team was one of a kind, and so is this fascinating account of the best basketball team of all time. Jack McCallum, the consummate basketball insider, lures you into the back rooms, living rooms, and locker rooms of this volatile group of superstars with revealing, colorful anecdotes that will make you laugh, cheer, and gasp. This is a terrific read by an all-star journalist.”—Jackie MacMullan, New York Times bestselling co-author of When the Game Was Ours
 
“Perfect book, perfect subject, perfect writer. Dream Team is one of the best sports books I have ever read—a riveting inside look at a once-in-a-lifetime squad at a once-in-a-lifetime moment in time. Jack McCallum has pieced together a masterpiece.”—Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of Sweetness and Boys Will Be Boys
 
“Jack McCallum is one of my favorite writers on the NBA. If Jack writes it, even if I know the story, I want to read it. He reflects the best of his longtime residence in the glory days of Sports Illustrated: You can see the event, but you still want to know what the reporter has to say about it. Dream Team is a wonderful look back at what will live on not only as one of the NBA’s great times but as a summary of its golden era. Jack beautifully blends what happened then with where-are-they-now? anecdotes, taking you behind the locker-room door with the greatest names of their era. This is such a wonderful read, you can’t help but smiling.”—Sam Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Jordan Rules

About the Author

Jack McCallum is the author of Seven Seconds or Less and a longtime member of the staff of Sports Illustrated. He has edited the weekly SCORECARD section of the magazine, has written scripts for various SI Sportsman of the Year shows, and is currently a contributor to the magazine and SI.com. He has won the Curt Gowdy Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Women Sports Foundation Media Award and teaches college journalism. He lives with his wife in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars much more fascinating than the actual Oly Games Sept. 21 2012
By Brian Maitland TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Let's face facts the actual basketball games involving the Dream Team (USA men's national basketball team made up for the first time of the best of the best from the NBA) are dull as dishwater outscoring their opponents by an average of 40 points a game. The real story is in this book on all the backstage rumblings from the exclusion of Detroit Pistons' guard (and unloved by Michael Jordan) Isiah Thomas to the Reebok vs. Nike (and to a lesser extent LA Gear and Converse) sponsorship controversy.

The author approached the subject well mainly taking a chapter each to focus on one or two members of the team and their back story. The best bits are the whole dynamic that developed off the court. Who knew Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing would become such good friends thus teammates referred to them as Larry and Harry? We all know Magic Johnson was front and center in the public eye throughout the whole process but behind closed doors it was Michael Jordan who ran the show really from the late-night card games to golf outings to racheting up practice sessions when needed.

If you love sports and want to really know how the NBA finally woke up to the global possibilties of the sport of basketball, this is must reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Behind The Scenes Look Aug. 28 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I grew up watching 80s and 90s NBA and the Dream Team was the most exciting time. Before the internet you only had limited ways to get behind the scenes stories, such as Jordan keeping Isiah off the team. The history of how professionals were allowed to play and how the team was assembled is great. The specifics of Stern's and the NBA's influence had on FIBA is fascinating especially seeing how the NBA and international game has evolved since 1992. Just a really fun read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Dream Team a Bit Repetitive Aug. 17 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my husband because he is such a fan of the basketball he saw when he was growing up. He was very excited to get the book but was a little disappointed at the repetitiveness of the author repeating stories throughout the book. My husbands comment, "It was just okay".
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  166 reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A collection of immortals that won't be duplicated July 7 2012
By Barry Sparks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The 1992 USA Olympic basketball team was dubbed "Dream Team." And, why not? The team featured the golden trio of Michael Jordan (perhaps the most famous person in the world at the time), Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as well as Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen and Christian Laettner (the only college player). Chuck Daly was the coach. Author Jack McCallum describes the team as "a collection of immortals gathered in one place at one time."

The 1992 Olympics in Barcelona marked the first time professional athletes could compete. The challenge, however, was to convince the NBA's best players to sacrifice their summer, compete as a team and to do it essentially for free.

McCallum, who covered the NBA and the Dream Team for Sports Illustrated, details how the Dream Team was selected and profiles each player He also writes about the efforts to keep Isiah Thomas off the team. Jordan, who wielded immense power, despised Thomas and didn't want him on the team. And, it was more important to make Jordan happy than any thing else. Even though Thomas was the best player on the Detroit Pistons, who had won back-to-back NBA championships, he was not a Dream Team member.

Although Bird, who was on the verge of retirement because of a bad back, and Magic, who had recently announced he had HIV and faced an uncertain NBA future, were co-captains, Jordan was the team's kingpin.

The inevitable question for a team like the Dream Team is "How do you play with just one basketball?" Incredibly, that was not a problem. Magic and Jordan made it clear from the beginning that there would be no problem with playing time. "We're here to win," they said. And, it was true. No member of the Dream Team ever looked at a stat sheet. Coach Daly vowed he would never call a time out because there was nothing he could tell the team that they couldn't figure out on their own. And, he kept his word.

Did anyone seriously think that any country could beat the Dream Team? The Dream Team was never challenged. It defeated eight opponents in the Olympics by an average margin of 43.8 points, including a 117-85 win over Croatia for the gold medal.

Since McCallum covered the NBA and the Dream Team, this is a highly personal account. He does an excellent job of capturing the buzz and excitement the Dream Team generated among fans and the media. The reader gets an insider's view of all the trash talking, banter and ribbing among the Dream Team members as well as their off-the-court activities. McCallum also interviewed each Dream Team member face-to-face nearly 20 years after the 1992 Olympics as part of the book. The reflections of team members nearly two decades later are valuable and insightful.

McCallum in deed makes a strong case that the 1992 Dream Team did change basketball forever. Lithuania's Sarunas Marciulionis said, "Dream Team was the single biggest impact of any team in any sport in history."

Magic Johnson said, "The Dream Team is No. 1 of anything I've done in basketball because there will never be another team like it. There can't be."
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent behind the scenes look at the greatest basketball team of all time July 10 2012
By Enrique Trevino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I was 8 years old when the Dream Team played in Barcelona. I remember thinking about how great the team was. After following the NBA quite closely this past year, I had lost touch on how great the team was, specifically how great Michael Jordan was. In this book, you get to really understand how great Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, et al. are.

While getting to understand the greatness of the team is valuable, the best part of the book is the behind the scenes look. We get to see the human side of the players without getting into exploitative tabloid news. We see how Michael Jordan's competitive nature allowed him to play 36 holes of golf and then come out and play excellent defense on Toni Kukoc (the game against Croatia). We get to see how hard it was for Pippen to be in Michael's shadow. We get to learn about Bird's back problems, Magic Johnson's controversial revelation of having AIDS. We get to read about the controversy surrounding not taking Isiah Thomas to Barcelona, the difficulty of Christian Laettner being the only college player on the team.

There's a lot of great stuff in the book, so I'll just mention two more things which I think deserve their own paragraph in the review:

1) The book talks about the difficulty in getting the Olympics to accept professional basketball players. In particular, it talks about the plight of the "Inspector of Meat" to convince the bureaucracy of both the Olympics and the NBA to join in and allow this team to form. It was a great time for basketball as Magic and Larry had saved the league, followed by the strengthening of it with Michael's excellence. It was well worth the read to find out about these deals and learn about how great things need the work of many people in many different areas.

2) The Dream Team inner scrimmage chapter is astounding. The Dream team plays against each other, 5 on 5 (Stockton and Drexler were hurt). Magic and Jordan, are the leaders of their own team and the description of the game is superb. The trash talk, the excitement, I felt like I was in the court watching the game. In particular, I love the one play where Bird scores (after stealing the ball from Magic) and how Jordan remembers that play. It is a great chapter that helps one understand the competitiveness of Jordan and Magic and the love for the game that all the Dream Teamers had. I love the respect they have for each other.

In summary, the book is an astounding behind the scenes look at one of the best teams of all time (and one of the most influential).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars almost like a front row seat to basketball history Aug. 9 2012
By Jason Greer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
On the 20th anniversary of the ground breaking entry of US pro basketball players into International and Olympic play, longtime NBA and Sports Illustrated writer, Jack McCallum, has given us probably as close as possible , a primary source into what turned out to be a grand experiment that changed the sport forever. Because McCallum was so close to the team, yet also kept professional, journalistic distance, he has provided for the general reader, an inside account with enough distance to add some real comprehension into what happened, for the sport and the athletes involved.

Wisely, I think, McCallum breaks his story up into chapters that focus on individuals. So a chapter places the larger story within a context of a chapter on Michael Jordan, Larry Bird or Charles Barkley. He does provide the larger context for the Dream Team's inclusion, including interviews with Yugoslav FIBA representative, Boris Stankovic, a man largely unknown to American basketball fans, but without whom, the game might not have exploded as such a world wide, popular sport in the last few decades.

This story is partly anecdotal, partly personal memoir (because McCallum did have as much outside access to the Dream Team as anyone, partly journalism and partly history. It is clear that a tremendous amount of work and research went into this book. McCallum had extensive one on one interviews with all the '92 Dream Team players in the last two years, to get their reflections on the event, after having their initial reactions, as events happened 20 years ago. Of course most of the chapters and interest follow the three pillars - Jordan, Johnson & Bird, but every player on that team has his say in this book and that alone makes this book a capstone for a true watershed telling in international sport and basketball history.

McCallum's strongest writing, I think, concerns David Robinson, as he genuinely struggled to understand Robinson's motivations as a professed Christian, among teammates who mostly were not. Robinson's years since retirement have included hard effort as a leader of an inner city Christian school, and the writer does allow who and why Robinson developed into the type of player and man that he is, to be shown and not told.

Larry Bird's chapters function almost like Bird's role on the team. Bird was the 'older statesman', a hard working, plain, straight talking player, who valued effort, and competition and was wise enough to know his role among such large, competitive egos.

If you enjoy the Olympics, leadership study, personal relationships, basketball or even 90's culture, I highly recommend this book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RICK "SHAQ" GOLDSTEIN SAYS: "I DON'T WANT TO PLAY IF ISIAH THOMAS IS ON THE TEAM! -MICHAEL JORDAN" July 22 2012
By Rick Shaq Goldstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The original... and with all due respect to others that have already come... and will forever come in the future... THERE IS BUT ONE DREAM TEAM! As up to date as a week ago, as I was finishing this book... Kobe Bryant unintelligently stated that this year's team could beat the one and only DREAM TEAM... THE 1992 AMERICAN OLYMPIC BASKETBALL TEAM... and then the 2012 American team looked absolutely normal... not legendary. The timing of such remarks made the behind the scenes stories presented in a beautifully written and interwoven manner... by Jack McCallum all the more mesmerizing and breath taking. The author provides the perfect melding of facts and anecdotes regarding each of the twelve players and head coach: Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, John Stockton, and Chuck Daly.

As exquisite as a Michael Jordan stutter step slam dunk... or a classic Magic Johnson look-away pass to a streaking teammate... McCallum's literary style that introduces each of the aforementioned individuals background leading to their inclusion on this once-in-a-lifetime-team... along with the comments... feelings... and actions... during the... until now "behind closed doors" dialogue... and the uncensored "chop-busting"... that only individuals who not only respected each other... (other than Christian Laettner, the one college player selected... who could have easily been bypassed in favor of 25 or more deserving NBA All-Stars)... but they also all shared such a love for the game and its overall reputation... that the tomfoolery that has poisoned the current game was simply not allowed.

It is so painstakingly clear that though Magic openly took the leadership role... especially for press conferences... that the real unspoken leader... was... and always will be Michael Jordan. The other leader... who never had to say much... but when it was said it had weight... was Larry Bird.

The personal interviews with these players twenty years later shows that every single player knew how important their team and country was... then... as well as now. Every player knew they were in a once in a lifetime situation as it was happening... so looking back twenty years hence with the author... only serves to prove they were right twenty years ago. There are so many unique gems unturned... from how Scottie Pippen really felt about playing all those years with Michael Jordan... how honored John Stockton felt to be selected... how disrespected Clyde Drexler felt in being the last player added... and that he truly felt he was better than Michael Jordan. The personal vendetta that Jordan and Pippen had against Toni Kukoc and how they executed their precision demolition... how "The Admiral" David Robinson really didn't fit in with the personalities of the other players... but earned their respect... by not fitting in. Of course there's the bombastic Barkley with his antics on and off the court. And perhaps the most powerful... emotional... manly... historical comment... was made by Larry Bird. With all the "busting-of-chops" of who was the best... one night it got heavy between Magic and Jordan... and remember this was 1992 when Larry Bird was about to retire with severe back problems... and Magic hadn't played for a year... and Jordan was simply on his first mountain peak... about to rise even higher... and higher. And Magic kept bellowing that he and Larry were the greatest... and soft spoken Larry simply said: "Let's just ride off into the sunset, Magic, we've had our time!"

For Kobe and anyone else who might irrationally try to put another "team" on the level of the "ONLY-DREAM-TEAM"... sitting in the room on that team... WERE THREE PLAYERS WHO HAD WON NINE STRAIGHT MVP AWARDS FROM 1984 THROUGH 1992! MICHAEL-MAGIC-AND-BIRD... THREE EACH!

This is a tremendous book... and every true basketball fan owes it to themselves to read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Feb. 21 2013
By Richard A. Phelps - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I grew up watching these guys and it was interesting to read about their backgrounds and behind the scenes issues on this team being put together. If you ever played basketball or watched these guys, I recommend this book.
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