More important was the understated job that Daly did in molding a collection of large egos into a group of players who functioned as a team. "The guy who will not gel am credit for this [gold medal] is Chuck," said assistant Mike Krzyzewski, "and he deserves a lot." As the medal ceremony wound down, Magic and a few other players beckoned to Daly and his assistants—Krzyzewski, Lenny Wilkens and P.J. Carlesimo—to join them on the podium. (Coaches of winning teams do not receive Olympic medals.) But Daly and his staff smilingly declined.
Bird offered a theory, only half-jokingly, as to why Daly was so successful. "Chuck didn't have any problem with ego," said Bird, "because Chuck's got a bigger ego than any of us."
The enduring image of Daly in Barcelona, though, is one that was captured after one of the Dream Team's early victories. There was Daly in the interview area, seated alone next to a large potted plant, reading a magazine and untouched by the media attention being lavished on his squad. Disturbed from his reverie, Daly looked up, gestured at the plant, adjusted his lapels and said, "Whaddya think? Is this one the Christmas card?"
Still the Main Man
Anyone who thinks that Jordan is not the best player in the world simply didn't watch the events in Barcelona. On the most star-studded team in history, Jordan was, simply, the star stud. When Magic was on the floor running the fast break. Jordan was his finisher. When Jordan was called upon to run the offense, he did so with control and a few dazzling no-look passes. When Daly gave the ball to Scottie Pippen, Jordan acted as a decoy. When the U.S. needed a defensive stopper, as it did in the semifinal against Lithuania, Jordan got the call—and made life miserable for Marciulionis. And when the team needed a scoring jolt, as it did against both Lithuania and Croatia, Jordan went out early and kick-started the offense.
Other Dream Teamers had more to gain than Jordan—and did. Magic showed the world that being HIV positive is not a reason to give up. Pippen, the highest-profile member of Jordan's supporting east in Chicago, somehow flourished in an even higher-profile cast. And Barkley, while doing nothing to quell doubts about him as a volatile character, elevated his reputation as a scorer, re-bounder and fast-break rambler. But basketball's king on the court, for a couple more years at least, remains Jordan.
Did you have your VCRs running on Saturday? Was this the final game for Magic and Bird?
Magic says he will base his decision on a complete physical and a conference with his physician in about three weeks. It's anyone's guess whether Magic will return, because he does not know himself. It was clear during the Olympics, though, that his skills, conditioning and enthusiasm for the game have not diminished.
The feeling among Dream Team members, however, is that Bird has decided to hang it up. He had his moments in Barcelona, and he repeatedly showed that his ability to throw the no-look touch pass is without equal. But stiffness in his back plagued him for much of the tournament, including the gold medal game, in which he failed to score in 12 minutes of action.