The 2016 Summer Olympics are fast approaching – in just a few weeks, the opening ceremony will mark the start the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
As we get excited to see the world’s top athletes compete, let’s take a step back and look at what Sports Illustrated called the best Olympics team ever assembled: The Dream Team.
The 1992 Olympics Games were the first time that the US men’s Olympic basketball team featured active NBA players. The team consisted of numerous Basketball Hall of Famers, including Michael Jordan at the height of his career, and legends and team co-captains Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
The Dream Team, as they were nicknamed, were overwhelmingly dominant in the Games – they scored over 100 points in every game and defeated opposing teams by an average of 44 points. No other US men’s basketball team has been so dominant since the 1992 Olympics – not that they weren’t close. Lebron James and Kobe Bryant claimed that their 2012 London team would rival the 1992 Dream Team, but when asked, Michael Jordan laughed at the comparison.
The advertising industry took advantage of the star-studded roster of athletes. Michael Jordan was and is perhaps the most famous of all Nike’s spokespersons, and at the time of the Games, he was engaged in an exclusive contract with Nike.
However, for the 1992 Olympics, Reebok provided the official track suit that US men’s basketball team was required to wear on the metal stand. For many of the players, this represented a conflict with their contracts with other apparel brands (mostly Nike). In the end, the players all wore the Reebok track suit, but obscured the logos with the jacket’s collar or with the American flag draped over their shoulders.
But before the track suit controversy on the medal stand, Nike released a Dream Team spot – featuring cartoon characters of all the players. The spot recalled video games that were popular in the early 1990s. It ends with the tagline “Just Do It USA” and a Nike basketball shoe squashing something, perhaps foreshadowing the Dream Team stamping out the competition at the 1992 Games.