The Original Dream Team: Wilma “La Gazzella Nera” Rudolph and Cassius Clay dominated the headlines when the Olympics returned to Rome. The men’s team that the US sent would be overshadowed by these dynamic characters, but included 10 players that would eventually spend time in the NBA. They would be led by a trio of Hall of Famer’s Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson, and Mr. Clutch himself, Jerry West. They would average over 101 points per game, and their minimum margin of victory was 24 points with 5 players averaging double digits in points.
1976: After ducking a scare from a feisty Puerto Rican team, Mitch Kupchak would be solid in this Gold Medal performance in Montreal. He would average 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. The US team would include Quinn Buckner and Adrian Dantley.
1984: Laker fan favorite “Sleepy” Sam Perkins would garner a Gold as a member of this Bobby Knight led team which of course included Steve Alford. This team also had a Ewing and a Jordan allowing them to shoot 64% from the floor as a team and beat Spain by 30 in the final contest.
1992: After realizing that rest of the world was using their professionals and circumventing the Olympic ideal of amateurs only (that and losing in 1988), the USA finally got into the act and put together a team for the ages. This team of legends was led by The Legend, Earvin Johnson. I’ll share a little personal experience. I was able to see these guys play in Portland against Cuba in The Tournament of the Americas. They beat them by 79 points. It was like watching the Globetrotters.
1996: Still playing with the winning formula, this team mixed grizzled veterans like Gary Payton (Was he really a Laker? I forget.) and Charles Barkley with young upstarts like Penny Hardaway, and Grant Hill, and not yet a Laker Shaquille O’Neal. This would be the last time the USA would enter an international tournament with its head and shoulders above the competition.
Sun Yue Primer: So most of us probably spent Sunday watching the (ahem) Chinese Magic Johnson. Outside of some grainy stuff on youtube, there really isn’t a lot of stuff out there about this guy. Most of us will use the Chinese games to scout the newest Laker signee. He seems to have good handles and is a legitimate 6′ 9″ with a 34″ vertical. And yes that was him on the underside of Lebron James shadow on that ridiculous alley-oop dunk. Kurt pondered his minutes, but he got 26. He scored 8 points and had 2 assists.
When is the next game?: Angola vs. USA is Tuesday at 8:00 PM Beijing time. NBC’s website tells us this. Beijing, China is +12 hours from EDT. You do the math.
Think before you react: A quote from Yahoo’s reporting of the Sun Yue signing…The Lakers are considering moving Bryant to small forward and making frontcourt player Lamar Odom a guard.