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Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever [Format Kindle]

Jack McCallum

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

CHAPTER 1

THE INSPECTOR OF MEAT

Pros in the Olympics? It Was His Idea, and Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Different

He first came to the United States in January 1974, dispatched by his boss to study up on American basketball. He didn’t speak the language, didn’t know the customs, and settled into the basketball hotbed of Billings, Montana, because that’s where he could secure free lodging with a Yugoslavian family.

This stranger in a strange land was named Boris Stankovic. He was six months from his forty-ninth birthday and he had come on behalf of FIBA. At the time not more than a dozen Americans knew what it stood for (Fédération Internationale de Basketball), where it was headquartered (at the time in an apartment in Munich, later in Geneva), and what the hell it did (governed amateur basketball in all parts of the world except the United States). “You cannot know basketball if you do not know basketball in the United States,” Stankovic was told by R. William Jones, who as secretary-general ran FIBA with a bow tie, a lit cigar, and a dictator’s fist. So Stankovic came and was instantly seduced by the college games he saw live—UCLA’s redheaded phenomenon, Bill Walton, was his favorite player—and the NBA games he saw on television.

For much of his early adult life, Stankovic had been a meat inspector in Belgrade. “My job was to look over the meat and cheese and, as you do here, put a stamp on it,” said Stankovic when I interviewed him in Istanbul in the summer of 2010. He is retired now but comes to many events as the éminence grise of international basketball. Stankovic had earned a degree in veterinary medicine in 1945 from the University of Belgrade. “It was natural in our country that veterinarians looked after the meat and cheese, because it has to do with animals, no?”

The type of meat Stankovic most liked to inspect, though, was the cured leather on a basketball. Even as he was arising at five in the morning to take up his meat stamp and lace up his white apron, basketball is what moved his spirit. He was an earthbound, fundamentally sound low-post forward who played thirty-six games for the Yugoslavian national team. One of his proudest moments was playing for his country in the first world championship organized by FIBA, which took place in Argentina in 1950. “We finished ninth,” says Stankovic, chuckling, “and there were nine teams.” One of his enduring regrets was that he never participated in the Olympics as a player.

The Yugoslavs were a tall, tough, and lean people, hardened by wars civil and foreign. In the Balkan area of Yugoslavia where Stankovic was born, the people measure eras not by “war and peace” but by “war and non-war.” When Boris was nineteen, he and his father, Vassilje, a lawyer who fought for Serbian nationalism, were imprisoned by an invading Russian army. After two months Boris was released, but Vassilje was executed by firing squad and buried in a common grave; even today, Stankovic does not know where. Stankovic was put on a blacklist that later kept him from becoming a medical doctor, his desired profession, and forced him to veterinary school, his way of staying in the field of medicine. Like most of his countrymen from that generation, he identified with the Serbian rebels who had squirmed under foreign rule for five centuries. “They lived in groups and learned to cooperate, to work with each other,” Stankovic said. “We grew up with that in our blood. We Serbians have never had much success in the individual sports, but our team sports are very, very strong. We have a proficiency in and an aptitude for sports that require a lot of teamwork.”

Stankovic’s knowledge of the game and overall intelligence—virtually anyone who talks about him invariably mentions his brains—enabled him to rise steadily as a coach and executive. By the time he was thirty he was the most important nonplayer in Yugoslavian basketball, even as he continued to inspect meat, and had already become active in FIBA.

In 1966 Oransoda Cantù, a team in the Italian professional league, came calling in search of a coach, and Stankovic left his homeland. “I went for the money,” says Stankovic. “Italy was the richest league.” He was reviled by many Italians as an outsider but later grew to be loved, as winners usually are, when his team captured the championship in 1968. That’s when R. William Jones beckoned him back. Jones had seen the future of FIBA, and its name was Boris Stankovic.

Jones, who died in 1981, months after suffering a stroke during a dinner at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, was the kind of man for whom the term “grudging admiration” seems to have been invented. Born in Rome to a British father and French mother, he had earned a degree from Springfield College, where Dr. James Naismith hung up his first peach basket. Jones was “a very international guy” (Stankovic’s words), a combination that made him an undeniable basketball visionary. But he was also the classic amateur-sport pasha, imperious and intractable. For basketball people in the United States, Jones left his enduring imprimatur by allowing the Soviets three chances to win the gold medal against the U.S. team on September 9, 1972, at the star-crossed Olympic Games in Munich.

Stankovic was a long way from being an established leader when he first came to the United States on that intelligence-gathering trip in 1974. He was just an outsider trying to learn the nuances of American basketball while also trying to learn how to order a hamburger. He was granted a papal audience with John Wooden—“We talked basketball, so it was easy to communicate,” he says—but mostly he was left on his own, to watch, listen, and compare.

And what happened was that a basketball junkie was transfixed by the American players, college and pro. “It just seemed to be a different game,” says Stankovic, smiling at the memory. “Faster but also fundamentally sound. You watched a guy like Bill Walton for one minute and you could see that his level was so much higher than anyone we had in Europe.”

FIBA’s rules at the time banned professionals from playing under the FIBA banner, and the rules of FIBA were the rules of Olympic basketball. So it was, so it had always been, and so, everyone thought, it would always be. The hypocrisy, of course, was that de facto professionals were playing anyway, since international basketball teams always comprised their country’s top players, even if they were officially listed as “soldiers” or “policemen.”

With the lone exception of Stankovic, there was no push to include American pros in the Olympics, since the supremacy of even American collegians was considered self-evident, the anomaly of 1972 notwithstanding. Plus, it was simply part of our sporting ethos that the Olympics were for our college players. The NBA and the Olympics were planets rotating in different solar systems.

But the Inspector of Meat, an outsider, didn’t see it that way. As he watched the pro stars of the 1970s on TV—among them Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, plus his two favorites, Walt Frazier and Pete Maravich—it began to gnaw at him that America’s best players would never participate in the Olympic Games. “The hypocrisy was what got to me,” said Stankovic. “And there was a practical side. My concern was trying to make the game of basketball strong, to grow it, and yet there was this separation. It became impossible for me to tolerate.”

There might’ve been a self-serving side, too. Stankovic saw himself as the messiah of hoops, the person to lift the game above King Futbol. And he was irritated by the fact that his organization—the We-Have-the-Final-Say Court of All Appeals for world basketball—came with an asterisk because it wasn’t even a blip on the NBA’s radar screen.

Whatever the variety of reasons, Stankovic came back to Munich and told Jones that dropping the amateurs-only clause, thus clearing the way for America’s best players to compete in the Olympics, should be a FIBA goal—a truly anarchic idea, given the sociopolitical sports climate. The times might’ve been a-changin’, but not in the International Olympic Committee (IOC), where Avery Brundage—a loathsome individual, a clear number one on the list of tin-pot despots who have run sports over the centuries—held fast to the concept of shamateurism.

Stankovic isn’t sure what Jones really thought of his idea, but his boss’s instruction was crystal clear. “He said, ‘Don’t bother,’” remembers Stankovic. “Or, as you say in America, ‘Don’t go there.’”

And for the next decade and a half, no one except Boris Stankovic went there.

Like many influential men and women throughout history, the Inspector of Meat is overlooked. He has never met Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, and the only time he has crossed paths with Michael Jordan was in the 1984 Olympics, in the pre–Dream Team days.

But whatever revisionist history might eventually be written, remember this: the Dream Team resulted from the vision of Boris Stankovic. It was not a secret plot hatched by David Stern to “grow the game,” one of the commissioner’s favorite phrases. It was not the result of a crusade by the NBA’s marketing demons to sell $200 Authentics in Europe, even though that was an eventuality. It was not frustration built up by the increasing reality that inroads were being made on the United States’ claim of basketball supremacy. The idea germinated in the mind of the Inspector of Meat from Belgrade.

Chapter 2

The Chosen One

Sneaker Porn Is Born

It was some rare time away from Bob Knight, their dictatorial Olympic coach, and two candidates for the 1984 U.S. team, Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing, were taking advantage of it by horsing around in their dorm room. Wild in-room wrestling matches were a major diversion for the collegians, particularly Charles Barkley and Chuck Person, two Auburn teammates who went at it pretty hard before they ended up on Knight’s very roomy chopping block.

Jordan, who had just completed his junior year at North Carolina, was heading for the NBA, while Ewing would be going back to complete his senior year at Georgetown. They were already good friends, having first met at high school all-star games and, more eventfully, in the 1982 NCAA final. It was there that a jump shot by North Carolina freshman Jordan led the Tar Heels to a 63–62 victory over freshman Ewing and his Georgetown Hoyas. Though no one realized the significance of it at the time, Ewing became the first of many great players to be stopped short of the finish line by Jordan.

The 6'6" Jordan had the 7'0" Ewing in a headlock. Neither young man was angry, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t semiserious: to Jordan, everything of a competitive nature had some degree of seriousness. Finally Ewing said uncle, and when the big center awoke the next morning, he couldn’t move his neck.

Man, was this going to be a tough conversation.

“Coach, I can’t practice this morning,” Ewing told Knight after screwing up his courage.

“What happened?” said Knight, and Ewing was forced to tell the whole story, giving up Jordan as the culprit.

“So I sat out, and man, Coach Knight was mad,” Ewing remembers years later. “But only at me. Michael? Nothing happened to him. Nothing ever happened to Michael.”

Yes, the summer of 1984 was a glorious one for Michael Jordan, the first of many, despite the fact that he had been initially resistant to the idea of competing in Los Angeles. “I was a little intimidated by Coach Knight,” Jordan told me in the summer of 2011. “I didn’t like his tactics, heard he ragged players, swore at them, and I didn’t want to spend the summer being berated by someone.” So he sought the counsel of his coach, Dean Smith, with whom he had a kind of father-son relationship, although Jordan’s own father, James, was a strong influence in his life.

“Coach Smith told me that all Knight wants to see is the fundamentals of the game of basketball,” Jordan said. (Even in casual conversation Jordan uses the phrase “the game of basketball” almost as if he’s describing holy writ.) “I had those fundamentals, so there shouldn’t be a problem. And once I got there I just saw a man who demanded you play the game a certain way and don’t make the same mistake twice. I didn’t.”

The summer was glorious, too, for the men who ran amateur basketball in the United States. The Olympic boycott of 1980, which had so soured them against President Jimmy Carter, was a distant memory. A solid team full of eager collegians—anchored by Jordan, whose singular skills, if not known worldwide, were certainly recognized in the United States, where he had just finished a gilded college career—was about to storm to the gold medal in Los Angeles. When the Soviets returned the 1980 favor by boycotting the L.A. Games, it seemed not to matter all that much. The U.S. collegians would’ve beaten that group anyway, or so went the thinking.

Knight was right out of the amateur hoops handbook, a tyrant of the first order but one of them, a dedicated (if sometimes out of control) disciple of ABAUSA, the group that ran amateur hoops at the time. “With Bobby in charge,” says C. M. Newton, one of his assistants, “there was no hoopla. It was straight down the path.”

Knight made the Olympic trials a Darwinian exercise from start to finish. More than a hundred players were invited, and they got cut twenty at a time. Karl Malone, a muscular but largely unknown player from Louisiana Tech, remembers that the early cuts had an impersonal feel. “You went through the lunch line in this big cafeteria, where they had a big bulletin board,” remembers Malone. “If your name was on the board, you were in.” One day Malone’s name wasn’t on the board. Eventually that freak of nature named Charles Barkley was cut. So was a guard named John Stockton.

There was a segment of the basketball population that didn’t completely buy into Jordan when he was at North Carolina, where, as common logic had it, the only one who could stop him was Smith, a rigid fundamentalist whose teams often held the ball. Anyone with one working eye and a semifunctional cortex knew that Jordan was going to be spectacular in the pros, but one supposition was that he would be a Clyde Drexler type, referencing the University of Houston product who had just finished his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers—that is, flashy but sometimes out of control, a scorer but not a shooter, a fan favorite but not a coach’s choice.

Though that impression would endure in some quarters until 1991, the year Jordan won his first championship with the Chicago Bulls, the basketball cognoscenti watching the L.A. Games saw what it really had in Jordan. He was a player who could break a zone with a jumper, lock down a high-scoring opponent, run the offense from the point if he had to. He could please Bobby Knight, for God’s sake. “The 1984 Olympics,” says David Falk, his agent, “was Michael’s coming-out party.”

Revue de presse

“The absolute definitive work on the subject, a perfectly wonderful once-you-pick-it-up-you-won’t-be-able-to-put-it-down book.”—The Boston Globe
 
“An Olympic hoops dream.”—Newsday
 
“What makes this volume a must-read for nostalgic hoopsters are the robust portraits of the outsize personalities of the participants, all of whom were remarkably open with McCallum, both then and now.”—Booklist (starred review)
 
“One of the best basketball books you’ll ever read.”—The New York Post
 
“A great read for basketball junkies.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“[A] stellar retrospective.”—The New York Times

“The Dream Team was one of a kind, and so is this fascinating account of the best basketball team of all time. Jack McCallum, the consummate basketball insider, lures you into the back rooms, living rooms, and locker rooms of this volatile group of superstars with revealing, colorful anecdotes that will make you laugh, cheer, and gasp. This is a terrific read by an all-star journalist.”—Jackie MacMullan, New York Times bestselling co-author of When the Game Was Ours
 
“Perfect book, perfect subject, perfect writer. Dream Team is one of the best sports books I have ever read—a riveting inside look at a once-in-a-lifetime squad at a once-in-a-lifetime moment in time. Jack McCallum has pieced together a masterpiece.”—Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of Sweetness and Boys Will Be Boys
 
“Jack McCallum is one of my favorite writers on the NBA. If Jack writes it, even if I know the story, I want to read it. He reflects the best of his longtime residence in the glory days of Sports Illustrated: You can see the event, but you still want to know what the reporter has to say about it. Dream Team is a wonderful look back at what will live on not only as one of the NBA’s great times but as a summary of its golden era. Jack beautifully blends what happened then with where-are-they-now? anecdotes, taking you behind the locker-room door with the greatest names of their era. This is such a wonderful read, you can’t help but smiling.”—Sam Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Jordan Rules


From the Hardcover edition.

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  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 5378 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 384 pages
  • Editeur : Ballantine Books (10 juillet 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B005X0JRG0
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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  215 commentaires
25 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A collection of immortals that won't be duplicated 7 juillet 2012
Par Barry Sparks - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
The 1992 USA Olympic basketball team was dubbed "Dream Team." And, why not? The team featured the golden trio of Michael Jordan (perhaps the most famous person in the world at the time), Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as well as Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen and Christian Laettner (the only college player). Chuck Daly was the coach. Author Jack McCallum describes the team as "a collection of immortals gathered in one place at one time."

The 1992 Olympics in Barcelona marked the first time professional athletes could compete. The challenge, however, was to convince the NBA's best players to sacrifice their summer, compete as a team and to do it essentially for free.

McCallum, who covered the NBA and the Dream Team for Sports Illustrated, details how the Dream Team was selected and profiles each player He also writes about the efforts to keep Isiah Thomas off the team. Jordan, who wielded immense power, despised Thomas and didn't want him on the team. And, it was more important to make Jordan happy than any thing else. Even though Thomas was the best player on the Detroit Pistons, who had won back-to-back NBA championships, he was not a Dream Team member.

Although Bird, who was on the verge of retirement because of a bad back, and Magic, who had recently announced he had HIV and faced an uncertain NBA future, were co-captains, Jordan was the team's kingpin.

The inevitable question for a team like the Dream Team is "How do you play with just one basketball?" Incredibly, that was not a problem. Magic and Jordan made it clear from the beginning that there would be no problem with playing time. "We're here to win," they said. And, it was true. No member of the Dream Team ever looked at a stat sheet. Coach Daly vowed he would never call a time out because there was nothing he could tell the team that they couldn't figure out on their own. And, he kept his word.

Did anyone seriously think that any country could beat the Dream Team? The Dream Team was never challenged. It defeated eight opponents in the Olympics by an average margin of 43.8 points, including a 117-85 win over Croatia for the gold medal.

Since McCallum covered the NBA and the Dream Team, this is a highly personal account. He does an excellent job of capturing the buzz and excitement the Dream Team generated among fans and the media. The reader gets an insider's view of all the trash talking, banter and ribbing among the Dream Team members as well as their off-the-court activities. McCallum also interviewed each Dream Team member face-to-face nearly 20 years after the 1992 Olympics as part of the book. The reflections of team members nearly two decades later are valuable and insightful.

McCallum in deed makes a strong case that the 1992 Dream Team did change basketball forever. Lithuania's Sarunas Marciulionis said, "Dream Team was the single biggest impact of any team in any sport in history."

Magic Johnson said, "The Dream Team is No. 1 of anything I've done in basketball because there will never be another team like it. There can't be."
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent behind the scenes look at the greatest basketball team of all time 10 juillet 2012
Par Enrique Treviño and Yuliia Glushchenko - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I was 8 years old when the Dream Team played in Barcelona. I remember thinking about how great the team was. After following the NBA quite closely this past year, I had lost touch on how great the team was, specifically how great Michael Jordan was. In this book, you get to really understand how great Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, et al. are.

While getting to understand the greatness of the team is valuable, the best part of the book is the behind the scenes look. We get to see the human side of the players without getting into exploitative tabloid news. We see how Michael Jordan's competitive nature allowed him to play 36 holes of golf and then come out and play excellent defense on Toni Kukoc (the game against Croatia). We get to see how hard it was for Pippen to be in Michael's shadow. We get to learn about Bird's back problems, Magic Johnson's controversial revelation of having AIDS. We get to read about the controversy surrounding not taking Isiah Thomas to Barcelona, the difficulty of Christian Laettner being the only college player on the team.

There's a lot of great stuff in the book, so I'll just mention two more things which I think deserve their own paragraph in the review:

1) The book talks about the difficulty in getting the Olympics to accept professional basketball players. In particular, it talks about the plight of the "Inspector of Meat" to convince the bureaucracy of both the Olympics and the NBA to join in and allow this team to form. It was a great time for basketball as Magic and Larry had saved the league, followed by the strengthening of it with Michael's excellence. It was well worth the read to find out about these deals and learn about how great things need the work of many people in many different areas.

2) The Dream Team inner scrimmage chapter is astounding. The Dream team plays against each other, 5 on 5 (Stockton and Drexler were hurt). Magic and Jordan, are the leaders of their own team and the description of the game is superb. The trash talk, the excitement, I felt like I was in the court watching the game. In particular, I love the one play where Bird scores (after stealing the ball from Magic) and how Jordan remembers that play. It is a great chapter that helps one understand the competitiveness of Jordan and Magic and the love for the game that all the Dream Teamers had. I love the respect they have for each other.

In summary, the book is an astounding behind the scenes look at one of the best teams of all time (and one of the most influential).
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 almost like a front row seat to basketball history 9 août 2012
Par Jason G - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
On the 20th anniversary of the ground breaking entry of US pro basketball players into International and Olympic play, longtime NBA and Sports Illustrated writer, Jack McCallum, has given us probably as close as possible , a primary source into what turned out to be a grand experiment that changed the sport forever. Because McCallum was so close to the team, yet also kept professional, journalistic distance, he has provided for the general reader, an inside account with enough distance to add some real comprehension into what happened, for the sport and the athletes involved.

Wisely, I think, McCallum breaks his story up into chapters that focus on individuals. So a chapter places the larger story within a context of a chapter on Michael Jordan, Larry Bird or Charles Barkley. He does provide the larger context for the Dream Team's inclusion, including interviews with Yugoslav FIBA representative, Boris Stankovic, a man largely unknown to American basketball fans, but without whom, the game might not have exploded as such a world wide, popular sport in the last few decades.

This story is partly anecdotal, partly personal memoir (because McCallum did have as much outside access to the Dream Team as anyone, partly journalism and partly history. It is clear that a tremendous amount of work and research went into this book. McCallum had extensive one on one interviews with all the '92 Dream Team players in the last two years, to get their reflections on the event, after having their initial reactions, as events happened 20 years ago. Of course most of the chapters and interest follow the three pillars - Jordan, Johnson & Bird, but every player on that team has his say in this book and that alone makes this book a capstone for a true watershed telling in international sport and basketball history.

McCallum's strongest writing, I think, concerns David Robinson, as he genuinely struggled to understand Robinson's motivations as a professed Christian, among teammates who mostly were not. Robinson's years since retirement have included hard effort as a leader of an inner city Christian school, and the writer does allow who and why Robinson developed into the type of player and man that he is, to be shown and not told.

Larry Bird's chapters function almost like Bird's role on the team. Bird was the 'older statesman', a hard working, plain, straight talking player, who valued effort, and competition and was wise enough to know his role among such large, competitive egos.

If you enjoy the Olympics, leadership study, personal relationships, basketball or even 90's culture, I highly recommend this book.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Running with the Legends 3 mai 2014
Par white_wizard55 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Reading Dream Team brought me back to when I was a 14 year old getting to enjoy all the great legends of the NBA at the time on the same team. Getting to watch those great names in action was always such a treat, especially being a Bulls fan and having the privilege of watching MJ and Scottie do their thing on both ends of the court. But in Dream Team, Jack McCallum gives a behind the scenes look at how it all came to be and the controversies and alliances that formed after the team was assembled. I only wish he had given more details on the specifics of the games, but the section on the scrimmage between the players on the team was fun reading and really page-turning. Apparently Michael and Magic didn't always get along when it came to winning and losing.

This was truly the greatest basketball team ever assembled, and this is the definitive account of that.
3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 NBA Fan Candy 2 décembre 2012
Par IamNateDavis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The greatest strength of this book is the reporting: the eyewitness accounts, and the thorough interviews and research used to create a full, coherent, and engaging story. After years of covering the NBA, McCallum had gotten to know many of the Dream Team players, and so he was able to tell a fast-paced and balanced composite of that summer of 1992, but also provide context before and after to really fill out the narrative. The book is tight, packed with insider details, and reads blazingly fast (I raced through it in two days), so for NBA fans, it's a slam dunk.

The two reasons I would only recommend it to NBA fans are these: the writing is workmanlike, journalistic, in that it mostly just moves the story along and gets out of the way. (That is, non-fiction writers looking to improve their craft will not find much to relish in terms of language.) The second critique is that the book rarely pauses from the play-by-play to reflect on how these actions and events shed light on humanity at large--something I would say that great non-fiction (such as Andre Agassi's Open, for example) does. So for this latter reason in particular, the book would exclude itself from general interest.

But if all you're asking of the book is a rollicking ride down basketball memory lane, you'll be quite satisfied.
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