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GQ Gets an Awesome Oral History of The Dream Team (including college squad players)

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I don’t know who restarted the trend toward oral histories (Grantland maybe?) but I’m glad it’s continuing to take off. The latest oral history is over at GQ magazine. Lang Whitaker managed to get an oral history of the Dream Team members including coaches and college squad players. He tweeted that he had been working on it since January.

This in advance of the Dream Team documentary that will air on NBA TV at 8pm (EST) this Wednesday (June 13). Given what a huge deal the Dream Team was it’s seems so odd to me that it took 20 years for this to be relived. For us to see the footage and hear this story in the players’ own words. On the other hand, enough time has passed (and enough reputations soiled) for their to be a level of candidness that we may not have gotten even 5 years ago.

I know most of us are waiting with bated breath to hear what the guys say about Isiah Thomas and any role they may or may not have played in leaving his ass off the team. And I’m hoping they deliver the goods. Thus far, the media members who I’ve seen write about viewing the documentary in advance have said it viewers won’t be disappointed with this project.

The oral history is very thorough and I think is probably a good refresher for those of us who may have forgotten just what the environment was like around the Dream Team. Before there was an expectation for the USA to crush everyone. Before there was an expectation that pro players make up the entire roster.

A few highlights:

[To finish reading this post click Read More]

There would be no stringent rules for the super stars on the team…

Mike Krzyzewski: The first meeting as a coaching staff, Chuck says to P.J. and I, “Both of you guys have got to learn one thing.” So we’ve got our notebooks, and we’re ready to write this down. And he says, “Both of you have to learn to ignore.” We said, “What do you mean?” “You college guys—you’re looking for every little thing, and you make big things out of it. We’re not going to be sticklers. These guys are men. If there’s something that’s big, we’ll take care of it.”

The college kids (Allan Houston, Chris Webber, Penny Hardaway among them) weren’t pushovers on the court…

Charles Barkley: The first time we saw them, they looked like babies. We were like, “Hey, man, let’s don’t kill these little kids.” And they were playing like it was Game 7. Before we knew it, they upset us.

On flying to Monte Carlo and being among royalty…

Karl Malone: I’m from the country. Our etiquette is pretty much, “Pass me the beans,” and we pass it down. No disrespect to the prince—it took me a while to understand the rules. This glass was on this side, and this fork was for this… You know what? Let me eat. You’re talking about a fish out of water—that’s how I felt. I had a nice suit on, I guess.

On the competitive spirit that dominated the practices…

Magic Johnson: Michael was going at Clyde; Clyde was going at Michael. David Robinson was going at Patrick Ewing; Patrick was going after him. Karl Malone was going after Barkley, Barkley after Malone. We were just going at it, man.

P.J. Carlesimo: These guys were so competitive. You couldn’t play for an hour and a half with them frothing at the mouth, because they’d kill each other. A regular NBA team, if you’re lucky, has one or two of these guys. We had twelve. They don’t want to lose a drill, don’t want to lose a shooting game, don’t want to lose anything.

On Charles Barkley being Charles Barkely…

Bohuny: Other than Charles, it was too hard to go out. You were mobbed. Charles loved it. He wasn’t afraid of the crowds.

Barkley: I wasn’t going to stay in my room the whole time.

Hubbard: Charles would walk down Las Ramblas, and people would say, “Charles, what are you doing for security?” And he’d show you his two fists and say, “This is my security.” He was like the Pied Piper. He’d have this huge group of people following and yelling and smiling and taking pictures. And he loved it.

DuPree: Barkley did this first-person column where he would meet up with me after the games and tell me stuff, and I’d write it up. He’d say “Meet me at such and such club,” so I’d go to the club, and of course, no Barkley, but there’d be a note saying meet him at some other club. So it would take about four or five clubs until about six in the morning before I could track him down. But he always left a note.

Two things.

I saw some damn fucking good basketball growing up. It almost makes me sad that I was too young to fully appreciate what I was seeing and the context of it all.

We are in for a treat Wednesday night. I’m already dreading the moment the documentary is over.




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