The 1992 Dream Team is widely considered to be the best basketball team ever formed in the entire history of the sport. It’s hard to refute this notion considering Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson were all on this squad, regardless of the fact that Bird and Magic were both already at the tail end of their careers.
This squad also boasted of two of the greatest big men ever in David Robinson and Patrick Ewing, as well as other stars such as Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, and Charles Barkley, who went on to win the NBA MVP title the following season.
The biggest wild card on the team was Christian Laettner, who had not even played a single game in the NBA at that point. The 6-foot-11 big man was coming off a tremendous NCAA career with Duke and was undeniably one of the biggest young prospects in the league.
Nonetheless, many believed — and still do to this very day — that Detroit Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas, who led the Pistons to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990, deserved a Dream Team spot over Laettner. There’s also a belief that it was Jordan himself who kept Thomas off the team, though Jordan denies it.
There’s no point crying about spilled milk — especially when the event in question transpired decades ago — but that is exactly what we’re going to do today. While Thomas was an obvious snub, there were a number of other players who had good cases to make this legendary Dream Team squad. Here are some of them.
Prior to joining Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls and playing a pivotal role in the team’s second three-peat, Rodman was one of the key pieces of the Bad Boy Pistons that won two titles in a row.
Rodman was easily the best rebounder in the league at that time, ending the 1991-92 campaign with a league-leading 18.7 boards per game (he went on to lead the league in rebounds for the next six seasons after that). Not only that, but he had also won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1990 and 1991, so Rodman’s defensive prowess would have been welcome in Barcelona.
Laettner was brought in as a young and promising big man, playing behind two of the greats in Robinson and Ewing. Another player who fit that same mold was none other than Shaquille O’Neal.
Like Laettner, Shaq too was coming off an amazing NCAA stint, except that O’Neal opted to forgo his senior year. The 7-foot-1 big man was just 20 at that time, and he was raw and bursting with potential. Shaq actually went first overall in the 1992 draft, which was two spots ahead of Laettner.
Shoutout too to No. 2 overall pick Alonzo Mourning — perhaps another name that was overlooked?
Talking about young talent at that time, perhaps Team USA could have looked in the direction of one Larry Johnson — the Rookie of the Year winner from the 1991-92 season.
Johnson was the first overall pick in the ’91 draft, and he absolutely lived up to the high expectation in his debut campaign. This came to the tune of 19.2 points (on 49.0 percent shooting), 11.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.
Johnson surely deserved a spot on the squad over Laettner from a talent perspective, right?
If this loaded Dream Team for some reason thought that they had a shortage in the 3-point shooting department, then maybe they should have brought a 26-year-old Reggie Miller to the dance.
At that time, the 6-foot-7 2-guard had already established himself as one of the most dangerous shooters in the NBA. They had a tremendous sharpshooter in Chris Mullin already, but Miller would have been a tremendous addition to the team.
The Dream Team only had two point guards on the squad in Magic and John Stockton. Actually, when you think about it, when you have John Stockton — a 10-time All-Star who led the league in assists on nine separate occasions — coming off the bench, then it speaks volumes of the kind of caliber you have on the team. Then again, adding a third playmaker couldn’t have hurt, right?
How about a guy named Tim Hardaway, who was already a two-time All-Star and in the upper echelon of point guards in the league despite only being in the NBA for three seasons. The season prior to the 1992 Olympics, Hardaway averaged 23.4 points (on 46.1 percent shooting), 3.8 rebounds, 10.0 assists (third in the league), and 2.0 steals while also connecting on 1.6 triples per contest.