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 – Jul 10 2012
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“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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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."
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).
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.
This was truly the greatest basketball team ever assembled, and this is the definitive account of that.
The two reasons I would only recommend it to NBA fans are these: the writing is workmanlike, journalistic, in that it mostly just moves the story along and gets out of the way. (That is, non-fiction writers looking to improve their craft will not find much to relish in terms of language.) The second critique is that the book rarely pauses from the play-by-play to reflect on how these actions and events shed light on humanity at large--something I would say that great non-fiction (such as Andre Agassi's Open, for example) does. So for this latter reason in particular, the book would exclude itself from general interest.
But if all you're asking of the book is a rollicking ride down basketball memory lane, you'll be quite satisfied.