The term “Dream Team” is one that will, for American sports fans, always conjure up memories of the 1992 United States Men's Olympic Basketball Team that featured arguably the greatest roster of basketball players ever assembled. National Basketball Association royalty such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, David Robinson and others steamrolled through the Barcelona Summer Olympics, carving up opponents while at the same time delighting international crowds who followed the squad around Spain as if they were the Rolling Stones. The '92 Dream Team was the first of its kind, and it will never truly be replicated.
With that said, the idea of piecing extremely talented athletes together to make for a squad of superstars for tournaments and competitive leagues did not originate back in 1992, and it is a notion that has been repeated by domestic and international coaches, general managers and sporting directors for years. The New York Yankees made the concept work several times in the late 1990s. One could say the same about the Boston Red Sox teams that won championships in 2004 and 2007, although the Red Sox rarely receive criticism for “buying” World Series titles. That, however, is another story for another piece.
There are also numerous instances of clubs and franchises attempting to build “Dream Teams” only for that idea to fail and fail spectacularly. Somewhat ironically is that the squad that is atop the list of the most lackluster superstar teams in history is one that represented the United States during a Summer Olympic basketball tournament. That team, most notably the way that it flopped in the competition, left little doubt that the rest of the world had caught up to the US in men's basketball, and it caused a shift in the way that USA Basketball built squads for future international tournaments.
20 2001 “Alliance” Team
19 18-1 New England Patriots
18 2012 Miami Marlins
17 1998 Brazil Men's World Cup Team
16 2001-2 St. Louis Rams
15 1995-98 Cleveland Indians
14 1990s Buffalo Bills
13 1999-2000 St. Louis Blues
12 1998 United States Olympic Hockey Team
11 2011 Boston Red Sox
10 2002 France Men's World Cup Team
9 2002 Miami Hurricanes football team
8 2010-11 Miami Heat
7 2013-14 Barcelona
6 2011 Philadelphia Eagles
5 2004 New York Yankees
4 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers
3 1980 USSR Olympic Hockey Team
2 2014-15 Real Madrid
1 2004 United States Men's Olympic Basketball Team
Signs that trouble was brewing for USA Basketball first appeared in 2002 when the Americans failed to notch even a top-five finish at the FIBA World Championship which was held in Indianapolis. That proved to be more than just a blip on the radar, as talented youngsters lacking top-notch international experience such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade combined with veterans such as Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan struggled at the 2004 Olympics right out of the gates. Puerto Rico shocked the world by dominating the US, and the Americans failed to win gold for the first time since the '92 Dream Team. “Never again” became the mantra of USA Basketball, and the so-called “Redeem Team” would right this wrong by winning gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
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