Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why The Dream Team Wasn't Perfect

After the men's basketball team failed to win gold at the 1988 Olympic games the United States decided it would no longer send college kids to compete for medals. Instead we would send the best players the country had to offer. In 1992 we sent the big guns to obliterate the competition. USA Basketball put together the greatest sports team ever assembled. They labeled it the Dream Team. The individual accomplishments for this collection of talent is astonishing. With 16 championships, 11 hall of famers, and 15 MVP trophies between them you would think the Dream Team was nothing short of perfection. There was one glaring omission however.

Isaiah Thomas didn't make the cut. The two time NBA champion and finals MVP was nowhere to be found when the team landed in Barcelona. It seems inconceivable that the 2nd best point guard of his generation (yes better than John Stockton) wouldn't get an invitation to play with this historic collection of basketball greats. Why was he left out by the selection committee?

Politics. One third of the team wasn't comfortable with his presence. Michael Jordan was bitter Thomas chose to freeze him out in the 1985 all star game. He also had emotional scars from the battles waged against the Detroit Pistons. Scottie Pippen was angry that Isaiah walked off the court in protest after the Bulls won the 1991 Eastern conference finals. Larry Bird was upset over Isaiah's claim that Bird would be an average player if he was Black. Magic Johnson was burned out over a friendship strained by championship level competition. Isaiah's talent wasn't enough to offset that much animosity and bad blood.

As an Isaiah Thomas fan I always felt cheated that players less deserving went to Barcelona in his place. It's a shame personal feelings and not basketball ability sealed his fate. In the end his past sins caught up with him and kept him from immortality. The Dream Team was great, but not as great as it could have been. From a basketball standpoint Isaiah Thomas deserved to be on that team.


  1. Good points. But with key players clearly disliking Thomas, wouldn't that have killed overall team chemistry and become somewhat of a distraction?

    Also, any thoughts on Bob Knight comparing Anthony Davis to Bill Russell?

  2. @Don: The chemistry issues may have been difficult to overcome, but similar to the way Chuck Daly and MJ were able to bury the hatchet I'm sure some comprimise could have been worked out. As far as the comparisons to Russell go, I think that's accurate from a skill set perspective. Davis is a defense first kind of center with great anticipation. He's also more athletic, but I don't think he has the intangibles (leadership, will to win) of a Russell. He is a franchise center however with tremendous upside. So long as you're not counting on him to score 25 a game.

  3. Yes, I agree, Davis is most definitely a defensive minded basketball player and will become a significant rebounder and one of the NBA's most feared shot blockers in due time.

    I also agree that he hardly possesses the intangibles which made Bill Russell one of the greatest defensive player, ever.