Olympic basketball changed forever courtesy of the decision to allow NBA players to compete ahead of the 1992 Games, and Wind-back Wednesday is marking 25 years since the superstar-laden USA squad claimed gold in Barcelona.
The ‘Dream Team’ contained the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, ‘Magic’ Johnson, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing and Clyde Drexler.
Crushing Angola 116-48 in their opening game, USA blazed through the group and knockout phases, with a 33-point margin over Croatia the closest they were pushed before reaching the final.
Croatia boasted NBA stars such as Toni Kukoc and Drazen Petrovic, and advanced to a rematch with the ‘Dream Team’ in the gold medal clash. The underdogs put up a brave fight and led midway through the first half, while Petrovic tallied a game-high 24 points.
But ultimately Croatia were unable to combat the brilliance of a team stacked with future Hall-of-famers. Jordan top-scored for USA with 22 points in the 117-85 win in typically dazzling performance, while Barkley (17 points, 4 assists), Ewing (15 points, 6 rebounds) and Johnson (11 points, 3 rebounds 6 assists) contributed strongly.