Dream Team: How Magic, Michael, Larry, Charles and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Sport of Basketball Forever by Jack McCallum

A funny, respectful, expert, complete–and literary–examination of 1992’s Olympic Dream Team and its permanent effects on basketball.

The U.S. Olympic basketball team of 1992 was known as the Dream Team because it included the game’s biggest stars, including Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan.

Sports Illustrated‘s Jack McCallum (Seven Seconds or Less, Unfinished Business) brings these colorful personalities to life as he recounts the creation of the Dream Team and its path to Olympic gold. When a meat inspector from Belgrade came up with the idea of rescinding the amateurs-only clause of Olympics competition, it made it possible for the U.S. men’s basketball team, traditionally made up of college players, to become a squad of NBA All-Stars, characterized by outrageous and iconic players and an unusual vision of the game. As McCallum tells it, this team took its ambassadorial role seriously, as the superstars relinquished their playing minutes to the greater goals of victory, teamwork and honor in a manner arguably absent from today’s game.

Dream Team‘s tone is occasionally reverent, but just as McCallum begins to speak in mythic terms, he reminds us that these men were only human, tapping into their personal lives and private sides (when his shared history with them allows). McCallum is nothing if not opinionated, but always fair in his analyses, and the quotations and one-liners that pepper his text are pure gold in terms of entertainment as well as illumination of the fine sport of basketball.

This review originally ran as a *starred review* in the July 17, 2012 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

Rating: 7 points.

4 Responses

  1. […] My friends and I are: Dream Team […]

  2. Okay, you win again. I confess I wasn’t sure about this one; I figured, MAYBE, on some really rainy day, when I can conjure a good excuse for a guilty-read… maybe then I’d pick it up.

    Well, I confess I was ready for a little comfort-reading, but I was also primed by the reward of Strong Inside (about more than basketball, but still…) So, I figured, now or never; but I still wasn’t sure.

    McCallum did a great job; without his hand, the story itself would not likely succeed (for me.) I make it an 8-pointer.

    Early in life, since I was a player and fan, I caught the virus, and it never really goes away, in spite of my drifting off, year by year. This book covers personalities that I knew mostly from the sports page, not so much the TV. The 1992 Dream Team was just a footnote in my personal sports history. And I was totally unaware of the ‘end of an era’ element to the whole thing. So I appreciated the perspective McCallum added to the story, as well as his embellishment of all the eccentric characters.

    Great fun; thank you.

    • Wonderful! I’m glad you found it so.

      I definitely find myself perennially excited about basketball, and I didn’t even play it, but credit some fandom and your instruction.

  3. […] has been making his way through my backlist. See, while we’re at it, his comments on Dream Team. Here, he’s sent a full discussion of The Solace of Open Spaces, which I reviewed here (see […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: