Review: Dream Team by Jack McCallum
As the title would suggest, this isn’t a review about a book about the undead. It’s not even in the horror/suspense category. What this review is on is essentially a large portion of my childhood. More specifically, The Dream Team that ventured into Barcelona in 1992 and took the Olympics by storm. The 1992 Dream Team was America’s big FU to FIBA who initially refused to let professional basketball players participate in the Olympics, even though pro athletes were allowed to play in other Olympic sports. And Dream Team by author and NBA journalist Jack McCallum gives a detailed but all too brief look into what exactly went down during that time.
While the book dives back and forth between the behind the scenes stuff at FIBA and the NBA, McCallum takes mostly a chronological approach to the book, save for interludes on his time with players from the 1992 team. The chapters are short and all highly entertaining with not a droll moment if you’re a true basketball fan. I’ll admit I expected this book to be something way different. I figured it would be more of a tribute to Magic, Larry, Michael and the rest of the team who the country looked upon so endearingly while they represented the United States in the most spectacular way possible. This is not the case at all. With a behind the scenes look, the reader is also exposed to the sometimes tense inner workings of the group. The book does a good job of chronicling the ups and downs not only of the team but also of each individual player who contributed to the historic run. McCallum also gets into the gossip column aspect of the players, from Jordan’s gambling “addiction” to Magic’s hogging of the limelight as his career was in its twilight. The book successfully adds the human element to a superhuman team that absolutely destroyed the competition and that’s a good thing (to me at least). When looking back on history, I always enjoy hearing multiple accounts of the same event and that’s exactly what you get with Dream Team through interviews from the players, officials, and other journalists.
The highlight for me was when McCallum details the infamous Monte Carlo scrimmage where Michael Jordan assumed his role as top dog in the NBA over Bird and Johnson. Being a native Angeleno, I was completely unaware of the deep competitive fire that burned underneath Magic’s polished and ever smiling exterior. Or that he would fight his passing of the torch till the bitter end. And the bitter end seemed like it came during The Greatest Game No One Saw. Should that DVD ever release, I’m quite certain it’ll sell more units than any NBA dvd ever made.
After finishing the book, I was pretty sad. Sad because we’ll never have another Dream Team as good as the original (in my opinion), and sad at the state of affairs among the NBA today. The nostalgia train hit me pretty hard, and at that point I was pretty happy that for the 20th anniversary of the Barcelona Olympics, Nike decided to re-release some timeless classics I’ll post for you all at a later time.
All in all, the book was too short. Too short in that I finished it wanting every second of the battles, conversations, and rivalries recorded and burned into my memory. 20 years later, I’d still pay good money to relive those moments I had as a child, staring in awe at the beatdowns that took place during Barcelona. If you love basketball this is a no brainer. Pick it up today.
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