- Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) is a professor and an NBA analyst for ESPN.
They were called the “Dream Team.”
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, John Stockton and Chris Mullin were among the best players the NBA had to offer. They, along with Christian Laettner (who had just been drafted out of Duke), became the first professional basketball players to represent the United States at the 1992 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal in dominating fashion.
But for then-NBA commissioner David Stern, the dream didn’t end there. He envisioned a version of the game where the best players came from across the world, not just the 50 states.
“I don’t know how many people believed in that with him or thought it was something that couldn’t be done, but he made this game global, where the game is watched in over 250 countries over the world,” LeBron James said of Stern upon the former commissioner’s death in 2020. “He saw the game being so much greater than just in the States domestically.”
Now, 30 years after the Dream Team put on an unprecedented basketball showcase that changed the sport forever, Stern’s vision has come to pass. NBA dominance is no longer solely an American domain, and never has that been more evident than at this year’s EuroBasket tournament, which featured three of the five players on last season’s All-NBA First Team and the winners of the league’s past four MVP awards.
The rise of global superstars is one of the most remarkable trends in modern basketball, but it has been a gradual affair, and it is by no means complete.
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