Twitch Flashback: 1996 USA Men's National Team Rallies to Defeat USA Select Team
USA Basketball is streaming on Twitch 10 select men's and women's national team exhibition contests every Friday, beginning March 12, 2021. The men’s national team exhibition re-air is from July 6, 1996, when the USA National Team was forced to rally from 17 points down to earn a 96-90 win over a USA Basketball Select Team of collegians. The game, which featured Chauncey Billups, a five-time NBA All-Star, and USA Select Team leading scorer and former Tulsa star Shea Seals will stream at 6 p.m. (EDT) on Twitch.
• Watch (April 22 @ 6 pm EDT)
It was almost a monumental upset!
The 1996 USA Select Team, comprised of some of the top college basketball players, nearly shocked the world and the 1996 USA Men’s National Team in an exhibition game held just weeks prior to the start of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
In front of 21,454 fans and a national television audience at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the mighty USA National Team was forced to rally from a 17-point halftime deficit to hold off the USA Select Team 96-90 on July 6, 1996.
It was truly David versus Goliath.
The rosters tell the story of how big of an upset this would have been.
The USA National Team, that would go on to win the 1996 Olympic gold medal and defeat its eight opponents by a margin of 31.7 points a game, featured NBA superstars Charles Barkley, Anfernee Hardaway, Grant Hill, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Gary Payton, Scottie Pippen, Mitch Richmond, David Robinson and John Stockton. Hall of Fame mentor Lenny Wilkens led the National team.
The Select team was comprised by college players Toby Bailey (UCLA), Billups (Colorado), Louis Bullock (Michigan), Geno Carlisle (Northwestern), Cory Carr (Texas Tech), Austin Croshere (Providence), Tim Duncan (Wake Forest), Brevin Knight (Stanford), Pete Lisicky (Penn State), Sam Okey (Wisconsin), Anthony Parker (Bradley), Paul Pierce (Kansas), Seals (Tulsa), Brian Skinner (Baylor), Maurice Taylor (Michigan) and Tim Young (Stanford).
The Select team, which made 8-of-10 shots to start the game, opened a 34-20 lead after a layup by Billups and with 6:23 remaining in the first half. Then the National team went on a 20-5 scoring run regain the lead, 40-39. However, the Select team wasn't done yet and ended the half with a 20-2 run. After Seals drained a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer, the Select team headed to the locker room owning a surprising 59-42 lead.
"Nobody backed down," said Duncan after the contest. "This is what we wanted to do, not back down."
Stepping up its defense in the second half, the future Olympic gold medalists took the lead for good 78-76 with 6:28 to play following a pair of Robinson free throws. The lead grew to 92-81 after Malone sank two free throws with 2:35 to play and the National team went on to record the 96-90 victory.
"We thought we had them," said Northwestern guard Carlisle. "We got out there and started to make some baskets. It was like we were in a dream."
"I told them before the game that you would be less than human if somewhere in the back of your mind you didn't think, 'Just maybe,'" said USA Select Team head coach Mike Montgomery from Stanford University.
Pippen, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist, led the National team with a team-high 17 points and Olajuwon added 16. Three other 1992 gold medalists aided the USA National Team comeback as Malone finished with 13 points, Robinson added 12 and Barkley tossed in 11 points and added seven rebounds.
The USA Select Team was led by Tulsa guard Seals, who scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting (4-6 from 3pt), and Providence forward Croshere added 10. Wake Forest center Duncan had nine points and six rebounds, Knight, a point guard from Stanford, finished with eight points, five assists and four steals, Carr and Bullock also scored eight points each and Billups was credited with seven points.
"In warmups a lot of our guys were big-eyed and awed," said Seals. "But once the game started, you could see the surprised looks on the [Dream Team] faces."
"Today we weren't the Dream Team," admitted Malone. "In fact, for a while we were the Nightmare Team. We got our wake-up call, and now it's time to start making a statement."
The U.S. Olympic Team would make its statement by winning to gold in Atlanta in dominating fashion and the USA Select Team went on to finish 5-0 and win the gold medal in August at the 1996 COPABA 22 And Under Tournament in Caguas, Puerto Rico.
USA Select 90
USA National 96