The Video Games of the Olympic Games: The Dream Team - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Video Games of the Olympic Games: The Dream Team

Chris Morley joins the Dream Team.
In 1986 professional athletes were given permission by the International Federation to compete in each sport of the Olympic Games. Perhaps the most memorable example of this came in the 1992 Olympic Games when the United States was allowed to field a basketball team comprised of well-paid NBA stars, called "The Dream Team," after previously being confined to a selection of amateur athletes from the college ranks of the game.

In something of a nod to the old amateur system, though, one college player made the cu t- Christian Laettner of Duke University was selected alongside Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls, and Karl Malone & John Stockton of the Utah Jazz. Former Los Angeles Lakers man Magic Johnson was also picked despite retiring from playing the previous year. Rounding out the roster were Larry Bird from the Boston Celtics, Chris Mullin from the Golden State Warriors, Clyde Drexler of Portland Trail Blazers, Philadelphia 76ers' Charles Barkley, New York Knicks' Patrick Ewing and David Robinson from San Antonio Spurs.

Aptly enough the newly bolstered team got a game of their own off the back of their success, with Electronic Arts developing Team USA Basketball for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive...

The game had the entire Team USA Roster and could be played in various ways: players could play against each other, or against the computer. Games against the computer were divided into two modes, "Exhibition" or "Tournament", and it was possible to pick from one of the other countries that had been represented in the 1992 Olympics, including Croatia who had taken the silver medal in the Team USA's closest real world Barcelona 92 match, with Lithuania also available to choose from, after having taken bronze after being defeated by the US in the semi-finals. It was also possible to use an All-World team, comprising the best players among the non-US squads, including Toni Kuko─Ź, Bill Wennington, Andrew Gaze, Rik Smits, Sarunas Marciulionis and Vlade Divac.

As the third release in Electronic Art's NBA Playoff series, Team USA Basketball was very well received by the public and critics alike, but it was nothing like the sheer amount of praise which came from the watershed moment when the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team were revealed...
“The world stood still as the USA basketball team was announced for the Barcelona 1992 Olympics. For the first time in Olympic history, the United States team would feature active NBA stars Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley.

They became known as the ‘Dream Team’ defeating their opponents by an average of 44 points en route to the gold medal.

Of the twelve players on the team, ten were named in 1996 among the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, the official list of the 50 greatest players of the league's first 50 years.

The USA team was so much better than the competition that head coach Chuck Daly did not call a single timeout during the tournament. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen became the first players to win both NBA championship and Olympic gold medals in the same year.”
Quite some way to make up for an abject showing in 1988 in Seoul. Then-NBA commissioner David Stern won approval from then-IOC President Jose Antonio Samaranch to change things up for the next games, coincidentally held in his home city, though Stern was keen to make sure people didn't think the league wanted to step on any toes.
"There's an error that some people believe that the NBA wanted to get revenge for the defeat of 1988, we weren't trying to make it the phenomenon that it was. We said to the FIBA ( Federation of International Basketball Associations) that we weren't excited by the idea, but that we supported the decision to vote, which was unanimous other than our vote and Russia's."
Nevertheless, the Dream Team became the standard by which subsequent USA Olympic teams would be judged, earning themselves a spot as legends in 2K Sports' NBA 2K13 while they were at it.

Consider this from Mike Colman of the Daily Mail in the lead-up to the most recent Games in Tokyo.
“When I heard an Australian TV reporter this week refer to the USA men's basketball outfit currently preparing for their first game of the Tokyo Olympics as 'The Dream Team' I nearly fell off my chair.

I covered the original Dream Team at the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics, and to put this current side in their league is, quite frankly, an insult."
With basketball so well represented on the Genesis/Mega Drive, what about those Sega console owners who fancied trying their hand at some other Olympic sports back in the Summer of 1992? That is where we will head next time with a look back at the officially licensed video game of Barcelona '92, Olympic Gold.

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