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.