In 1988, a pair of 24-year-old professional basketball players named Arvydas Sabonis and Šarūnas Marčiulionis led the Soviet Union to the gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul. En route to gold, they beat a United States squad made up of overmatched college players.
In the 10 Olympics prior in which the U.S. competed, only once had the Americans been beaten, that coming in the controversial 1972 Games that remains under protest.
[Slideshow: Classic Dream Team photos]
Embarrassed, USA Basketball, at the behest of FIBA, opened the door to using NBA players. Enter the "Dream Team" – the most dominating collection of talent ever assembled on a single roster: 11 NBA players, 11 future Hall of Famers.
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone – just to name a few – and only one of them (Jordan) started every game. For this squad, the '92 Olympics wasn't so much a tournament as it was a showcase – their closest contest being a 32-point blowout, and that coming in the gold-medal game.
The Dream Team left Barcelona having accomplished what it was supposed to do: reassert the United States as the world power on the hardwood … and then some.
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- Arvydas Sabonis