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USA basketball team members Michael Jordan (middle), Scottie Pippen (left) and Clide Drexler (right) receive their gold medals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
It was a basketball fan’s dream back in 1992, when Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan led the U.S. to Olympic gold in Barcelona.
For the first time, Team USA featured NBA players, creating what is arguably the greatest team of athletes ever assembled. The U.S. has dominated the court in nearly every Olympic contest since, thanks to a steady supply of NBA ringers. Now, NBA commissioner David Stern has proposed an age limit of 23 and under for the Olympics that would effectively end the “dream team” tradition after London.
His reasons? Team owners worry that summer injuries could sideline their best players when NBA season comes around. The players and the league don’t make any money on the Olympics. And the NBA no longer needs the international publicity it gained from the original dream team; NBA games are now seen in over 200 countries around the world. Since the NBA includes many foreign players who are free to play for their home countries during the Olympics, barring American pro-ballers puts us at big disadvantage – unless Stern can succeed in establishing the age limit.
Should senior NBA players stay out of the Olympics? What would a younger version of Team USA look like? Can the U.S. win the gold without a “dream team”?
Mike Bresnahan, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times