Flashback: The Dream Team Claims Gold Recording a 117-85 Win Over Croatia
Forty-nine days after initiating its training in La Jolla, California, the USA Dream Team realized its dream of capturing the Olympic basketball gold medal and returning it to the United States.
Twelve days after defeating Croatia, 103-70, in pool play, the U.S. repeated its victorious performance, this time recording a 117-85 win to capture the Olympic gold.
"The feeling is just tremendous," remarked Magic Johnson. "This is the most awesome feeling I have ever had, especially when the National Anthem was being played. I had goose bumps over my whole body."
"We knew and everyone else knew that we were going to win. It was just a matter of when and how much. We have played so many games and beaten so many teams badly, we didn't have the intensity tonight that we could have," voiced Scotty Pippen.
Virtually unchallenged in any game, the U.S. finally received a little challenge and it responded. Taking control early 14-4 and 23-15, the U.S. saw its lead disappear as Croatia scored 10 consecutive points to take the lead 25-23 with 9:44 to go in the first half.
Enter "Sir Charles" Barkley. Starting things off by hitting a 3-point shot to put the U.S. back ahead for good 26-25, Barkley scored or assisted on 13 of the USA's next 17 points in a 17-7 run that gave the Americans a 40-32 lead with 5: 14 left in the first half.
"When you've been around basketball for as long as I have, you know better than to get all excited in the first quarter or first half of a game," responded Barkley to questions of whether he was worried about losing.
The USA led at half 56-42, its smallest halftime margin of the Olympics, then outscored Croatia 11-3 to start the second half to jump ahead 67-45. Shortly later, leading 69-53, the USA went on a 20-3 tear to seal the gold medal victory.
Michael Jordan, connecting on 10-16 field goals, led the way to the gold with 22 points, while six other U.S. teammates -- Barkley, 17; Patrick Ewing, 15; Pippen, 12; Johnson, 11; Chris Mullin, 11; and Clyde Drexler, 10; also scored in double figures.
For Ewing, Jordan, and Mullin, it was their second Olympic gold medal, but still something very much cherished.
"My first gold medal (from 1984) is at my father's. This one is going to my house. I'm ecstatic," said Ewing.
In compiling an unblemished 8-0 record and capturing the Olympic gold medal, the USA team left little doubt that it was one for the record books. Averaging an Olympic record 117.3 ppg., the USA squad won by an average of 43.8 points and the closest any opponent could come was 32 points (117-85 versus Croatia in the gold medal game). The Dream Team shot 57.8% from the field and 40.0% from 3-point, while their opponents managed to make just 36.5% of their field goal tries and just 30.5% of their 3-point attempts. The U.S. also recorded a record 239 assists.
The USA Olympic men's basketball program now has collected 10 gold medals in 12 appearances and compiled an incredible 93-2 overall record!
"You will see a team of professionals in the Olympics again," said USA coach Chuck Daly. "But I don't think you'll see another team quite like this. This was a majestic team."