One of the best parts of sports history is hearing about all the behind-the-scenes drama after the fact. If you're looking for drama of the highest quality, look no further than The Dream Team.
The documentary, which highlights the journey of the USA's gold medal-winning basketball team in 1992, debuted on Wednesday night on NBA TV to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the team's remarkable feat. It's full of highlights: There's Jordan and Pippen. There's the scrimmage loss to the college kids. There's even Ed Burns.
But the best part is the Isiah Thomas drama.
It has long been suspected that the Pistons guard was blackballed by the rest of the Dream Team, but all speculation came to an end once the movie aired and Jordan and Pippen confirmed it.
In the documentary, Pippen said (via Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com):
"Isiah was the general [of the Pistons]. He was the guy who would yap at his teammates and say "Kick them on their ass. Do whatever you have to do." No, I didn't want him on the Dream Team. ... I despised how he played the game."
Jordan added, "That was one of the stipulations put to me that Isiah wasn't part of the team."
Who knows what would've happened if Thomas had been a part of the team? Would it have won? Would there have been the kind of chemistry and camaraderie that the team is still remembered for? Probably not. Behind-the-scenes drama is even more fun to contemplate when you have a gold medal to show for it in the end. There's nothing that says "We were right" like a world championship.
Remembering one of the greatest teams in history is always a treat, but hearing those players look back upon their journey and reflect on it so candidly—and getting access to some additional never-before-seen footage—is even better. It's rare that you get this kind of honest and no-holds-barred look into the minds of some of the greatest athletes in history.
The 20th anniversary of this team's accomplishment couldn't come at a more perfect time, either, as interest in the US's 2012 Olympic team seems to be at an all-time low. If The Dream Team can so poignantly inspire those of us who have never stepped foot on a court, imagine what it can do for the superstars of today, who must now try to build a Dream Team of their own.
Will the London 2012 squad ever rival the Barcelona 1992 squad? No. Probably no team ever will. But appreciating the Dream Team isn't about trying to outdo its accomplishments; it's about using that inspiration to remember why the summer games—even if they don't bring an NBA championship—can be far more important than a trip to the Finals.