Work in Sports
Dream Team missing some big names
SYDNEY, Australia -- Just how dreamy is this Dream Team anyway? Remember the original 1992 team? Head coach Chuck Daly used to say he wasn't traveling with a basketball team; he was traveling with a dozen rock stars. I remember, during the pre-Olympic tournament in Portland that summer, when the second half of a game between the U.S. and Venezuela was delayed so the Venezuelans could pose for pictures with the Dream Teamers. You know the platitude athletes give one another about how it was an honor to play against so-and-so? Well, flash forward four decades and see how many players in that tournament will be spinning yarns about being on the same floor with the Americans as a way to validate their athletic lives.
Fair enough. These players are intense when they need to be. Vince Carter mowed down an opponent, a referee and a popcorn vendor in the team's pre-Olympic tour and agains during the Games themselves. We've seen dazzling passing, tenacious defense and even an off-the-backboard alley-oop against Italy on Tuesday. But the chief difference between the '92 team and its 2000 counterpart is this: Nobody turned down a chance to play in Barcelona. Players practically campaigned for it. Not so this time. Consider the marquee players from the champion Lakers: Shaquille O'Neal said almost a year ago that he wouldn't have the enthusiasm to play. Kobe Bryant said "no" more recently because he was getting married. Throw in a few injuries and, well, maybe the aura just never made it through Australian customs.
Here is a look at a team of assembled stars (though with Allen Iverson, we use the word "team" loosely) who could give the 2000 team a run for its medals. It's our list of NBA players who, for one reason or another, are not here but could be. For good measure, the team would be led by Phil Jackson, a coach with seven championship rings who has never headed a U.S. national team.
C Shaquille O'Neal,
Sports Illustrated writer-reporter Brian Cazeneuve is in Sydney covering the Games for the magazine and CNNSI.com. Check back daily to read Cazeneuve's behind-the-scenes reports from Down Under.