NBA TV's new documentary "The Dream Team" debuted to substantial hype on Wednesday night, and SB Nation Chicago is glad to say it lived up to expectations. I thought it was really great.
If you read Lang Whitaker's oral history on GQ earlier in the week, there wasn't much of the story left unturned. Whitaker covered almost everything the film did, from the decision to leave Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas off the team, to the college kids winning the first scrimmage, all the way through the USA's decimation of the international competition on the way to a gold medal. But while reading the stories from the people who experienced it was one thing, seeing the actual documentary footage added so much more. There are some truly surreal moments caught on camera, and all of the former players interviewed came off very candid and likable.
More than anything, it made me wonder why it took 20 years for this to happen. We have the complete documentary, after the jump...
Here's a few loose thoughts:
1. I had heard about the fawning admiration given to the Dream Team by its competition before, but seeing the footage really hammered it home. It was hilarious, actually. The other teams were straight-up bowing down, like peasants in the company of royalty. They probably would have washed MJ's feet at center court, had he asked them.
The Cuban team posed for pictures with Team USA before the first game. Teams asked for autographs, teams were taking pictures. It's unlike anything you'll ever see. These other countries were sincerely honored to get their ass kicked by the Dream Team. Who else can say that?
2. To the surprise of no one, Charles Barkley stole the show. Present day Chuck was great in the interviews, and 1992 Barkley was the focal point of some of the most memorable footage of the documentary. I loved the part when Barkely went out on the town and mingled with the people, drinking in public. He has to be the most bizarrely perfect ambassador for that team and maybe even the entire sport.
3. To the surprise of everyone, MJ came off as really funny and likable. You can rarely, if ever, say that about Michael Jordan in his post-playing days. It was clear he was the main attraction of the entire scene. The people in Spain went crazy for him, his teammates gave him so much respect and he always seemed to hover over everything. His Airness had a certain omnipresence over the documentary, and the '92 Olympics, too.
4. My favorite moment: with the Dream Team's bus stuck in traffic, being mobbed by people, John Stockton decided to get off and meet with his family. While the locals were going bananas for MJ, Magic, Bird and Pippen, Stockton was able to walk the streets with his wife and kids without being disturbed. There's a moment when Stockton, holding a video camera, goes up to a woman with an American flag draped around her back and asks her about the Dream Team. She says she's only met Barkley. Then Stockton and his kids point out Stockton's likeness on the shirt she's wearing, one of those wonderful caricature tees that were everywhere in the '90s.
Good work, everyone. Now when do we get a documentary on Dream Team II?