Flashback: 1992 USA Dream Team Opens with 116-48 Victory Over Angola
Opening 1992 Olympic play on July 26 against African Zone champion Angola, the U.S. squad sent a crystal-clear message to its Olympic opponents – this team would take no team lightly.
The U.S., behind Charles Barkley’s 24 points, stormed to a dominating 116-48 victory.
The U.S., however, did not spring out of the starting gate against Angola as most expected. Tied 7-7 with 16:32 to play in the opening half, the U.S. reeled off an incredible 31-consecutive points over 8:53 to take command 38-7. By the time the memorable first half was over, the Americans had taken command 64-16.
The U.S. dominance continued in the second half and the Americans romped to a 68-point, 116-48 victory.
En route to the win, the U.S. outrebounded the outsized Angolans 33-18 and shot 64.2% from the field. On the other side, Angola shot 25% from the floor and made just 9-of-38 tries from behind the 3-point line (23.6%).
“It was great to get that first game out of the way because when we first started we had a few cobwebs and butterflies, but after we got it going and got our running game going, it was neat to see,” said Karl Malone, who finished with 19 points. “It was good to get that first one out of the way and we know it gets tougher from here on out.”
For Magic Johnson, who finished with six points and 10 assists, playing for the USA in the Olympics was the realization of a lifelong dream.
“This is possibly the most important thing in my life, I’ve never been in such an important event,” remarked Johnson. “Just yesterday (Opening Ceremony) was one of the greatest days already in my life. Marching with all those athletes was truly unbelievable. When you first say you’re going to play, you never think it’s going to be so much fun. But the feeling I felt yesterday, I’ve never reached that high.”
Knowing only too well the task facing his team, Angola coach Victorino Cunha explained some of the difficulties his team faced in playing the USA’s Dream Team.
“Our team has a shortage of forwards, which is a problem for us, and we consequently have to rely on the outside shots,” said Cunha. “The average height of my team is 1.93 meters (6-foot-4), whereas the average of the U.S. team is 2.03 meters (6-foot-8). Our aim was to lose by less than 45 points. The USA began the game very relaxed, but when they started to put the pressure on, my team suffered a blow to its morale.”
“The game was very hard for us,” conceded Angola forward Jean Conceicao. “It was like a dream to find ourselves playing against the U.S. Olympic Team, but in reality it was extremely difficult. We did everything possible, but you saw how the game went.”
“We wanted to play against the USA to show the world that Angola is also capable of playing basketball,” added Angola forward Jose Guimaraes.
“Was this game embarrassing?” the media asked Michael Jordan.
“No,” answered Jordan, who dished out nabbed a U.S. Olympic record eight steals. “What do you do, come here and try to take it easy? What are you going to do, put in the second team? We’re here to win the gold medal. You gotta step on toes. That’s the way it is.”