In 1992, in the Barcelona Olympics, the Dream Team caught everyone’s imagination. With players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and others, no wonder people were geeked up.
After destroying Angola in the opener (the Angolans posed for pictures with the US players, despite Barkley’s rather significant elbow to one of the Angolan’s), the US got Croatia and its brash star Drazen Petrovic in the second game.
The Croatians also had Dino Radja, Stojko Vrankovic, (his son, Antonio, later played for Duke) and, to the great irritation of Jordan and Pippen, Toni Kukoc.
Chicago Bulls GM Jerry Krause had made such a big deal about Kukoc that his two stars resented him and worked hard to shut him out.
The US won 103-70 and Kukoc was held to four points, which in retrospect really isn’t that surprising since he had two of the NBA’s greatest all-time defenders trying to shred him.
Petrovic, who had been in the NBA long enough to establish his bona fides, scored 19. Radja had 14. Vrankovic had 11 and four blocks.
The teams would meet again for gold and the US wasn’t messing around, winning 117-85. This time, Kukoc got 16.
Later, when he got to the Bulls, Jordan and Pippen embraced his talent and accepted him as a key part of their second threepeat.