The Dream Team: What Would Isiah Thomas (and Shaq) Have Brought to the Table?
I wrote that article expressing slight disappointment in Coach Chuck Daly for not speaking up for his star player.
I know that it wasn’t his choice and all, but if he had just said he feels Isiah deserved to be there, firmly and publicly, I think that could have meant a lot.
And it is absolutely true. People have to respect that.
Shaquille O'Neal and Dominique Wilkins both got imaged out of a place on the team too.
But that lead me to think, what if Isiah was on that original Dream Team? What impact could that have had on the international game of basketball?
Let's explore that 1992 team...
It Was Almost Like An All-Star Game
For one, the Olympics that year were going to be a grand display of professional American basketball.
Like Apollo Creed came in against the Russian in Rocky IV; it was going to be a showcase.
They were going to smash every team. In style.
Isiah is one of the best showmen in the history of the NBA. The Olympic games were fast paced, wide open basketball. an All-Star type of game.
In that style game, Thomas is one of the best and most creative to ever push the ball.
Remember he won the All-Star game MVP twice. When he and Magic were running the ball up the court, improvising, that was the best All Star games ever!
AND please remember Zeke threw a length of the court, baseball bounce pass to Jordan that was incredible! In the same game he also served an off the glass, no-look, silent alley oop to Air Jordan. (I have it on tape.)
They were supposedly beefed out at that time. But on the court Isiah and Jordan would have had no issues at all.
No doubt in that setting, Isiah would have been a part of some of the most spectacular plays ever made on a worldwide stage!
That is what could have been.
The Whole World Might Dribble Better
The Dream Team had a tremendous impact on the global game.
After those Games the international game begin to evolve quickly. The players on the other side of the pond had experienced a new level of competition.
International players, who were known as exceptional shooters, seemed to pick up on the athleticism part of the game after that.
What that audience didn’t get exposed to on that Dream Team was someone that could handle the ball like Isiah Thomas. Zeke had the ball on a string like no one they had ever seen; like no one we had ever seen practically.
The young fans and future players didn’t get to see a little guy that was absolutely magical with the ball. Sure all the Dream Team can dribble and all, but not with the machine gun speed and quickness of Thomas.
Watching Zeke’s mastery of the dribble might have changed the way players approached the game around the world. Who knows what young players would have admired and imitated the ball wizardry of the former Pistons captain.
That could have an impacted the development of the game globally on the international level. Seriously.
Did Race Have Anything to Do With It?
If Isiah and Shaquille O’Neal had their rightful places on the team, it would have been a much darker team. Leaving Bird and Chris Mullins as the only white players on the team.
I don’t know if that is the image that America wanted to give to the rest of the world as the best basketball team in the world. You know how this country is.
(Ok…Karl Malone is white, too. LOL.)
Low key I think that Dominique Wilkins should have been there instead of Chris Mullin. Maybe the USA team wanted the outside shooting of C Mullin, as if it would have mattered.
Wilkins, in the physical East, averaged 28.1 points per game to Mullins 25.9 in the 91-2 season. He went on to average 29.9 the next season after he was snubbed. The high flying ‘Nique would have put on an aerial show Barcelona too.
But again, that makes a lot of melanin on the team. I am sure that is something that the powers that be thought about. Just keeping it real.
This was in 1992, when the shorts were tight. Tattoos and braids weren't represented in the league yet. The NBA hadn’t yet accepted the fact that the hip-hop generation would soon dominate American culture.
The Fab Five had just began to change the landscape of basketball with the shorts, socks, and attitude. Iverson didn't come into the league until 1996.
Putting Shaquille, Dominique, and Isiah on the squad—replacing Christian Laetner, Mullin, and Stockton would have made the team all the more dreamy in my opinion.
Is it a case of too black, too strong?
The Big Student
Of course, Shaq not being on that team was a bad snub, too. He was about to enter the NBA as the no-brain first pick.
Practicing around the greatest players on earth, he could have learned their approach to the game. Plus being able to play against and with Ewing and David Robinson would have been a huge education for the big man.
Christian Laetner was given the spot. Again I hate to play the race or American image card. But the golden boy from Duke was selected over the big monster that would soon tear down backboards.
You do the math on that.
In some ways I feel like the USA short changed the global basketball world.
Michael Jordan said that he had nothing to do with Isiah not being there, but of course he did. What is supposed to say? Jordan spent his career saying the “right things.”
He does that as good as he plays.
Plus the NBA never liked the Bad Boy Piston team that Isiah lead. Their physical, low scoring, and defensive style was something the league wanted nothing to do with.
The Pistons had just lost a series to the Chicago Bulls after which they walked off the court without shaking hands. That didn’t help the teams, or Thomas’ image.
Detroit was upset that the Bulls public complaints of their physical style of play had obviously been well received. They weren't allowed to play their normal game, you couldn't touch much less bump and grind anymore.
They wanted more scoring in the league and the Pistons out of the limelight.
Did any that even matter in the Olympic Game though? Everyone basically knew it was going to be a blowout exhibition. It was more of a display tour than a tournament.
Myself I just think that Jordan had something to say about Isiah being on the team. Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. Rumors don’t come from nowhere.
And Mike can be a beyotch like that.
More than anything with the body of work of his career, Isiah should have definitely been on that team. He was a champion in the NCAA and twice in the NBA.
Stockton had never even played for a championship on any level. Why would he be chosen to go win a gold medal?
It would have been nice to hear the coach publicly support his star player. Even if its nothing he can do, he can say how he feels.
When you've earned something, you've earned it. Bottom line.
I wish somebody would just tell it like it is.
American political bullsh*t.
What else is new in this country.