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That Time Chuck Daly Maybe Intentionally Lost A Scrimmage To Knock Dream Teamers’ Egos Down A Peg
The Dream Team, NBATV’s much-hyped documentary chronicling the
WWF tag team of Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine 1992 U.S.A. Olympic men’s basketball team, premiered last night. And it was a lot of fun. How couldn’t it be? It was a movie where you got to re-live (or just plain live, if you were too young to know anything about them the first time around) the Dream Team, the best basketball team ever (and maybe the greatest team in any sport, ever).
As spellbindingly awesome as the team was, though – and as much fun as it was to watch them be so spellbindingly awesome that opponents would want to shake their hands before free throws – one of the most interesting parts of the documentary is the part that covers the one day the Dream Team was beatable. The only time they ever lost was their first scrimmage. Amazingly, a team of college stars led by the likes of Chris Webber and Bobby Hurley was able to beat them. Hurley and Webber: fine players both, but college players. This was the Dream Team.
So what the hell happened? For one thing, the Dream Teamers still weren’t used to playing as a unit, so they made a lot of sloppy plays. For another, the college kids were especially amped to play a team consisting of the world’s best. But those factors alone shouldn’t be enough. The college kids hadn’t exactly been playing together forever, either, and a difference in intensity level shouldn’t have been high enough to beat a team with 11 future Hall of Famers.
Unless… Dream Team coach Chuck Daly threw the game. And one of his assistants on that team, Mike Krzyzewski, thinks that’s exactly what happened. Alas, there’s no video of that instance of Krzyzewski saying it on the internet at the moment, but he says basically the same thing at the 4:26 mark below:
It makes sense. You need to be in charge of this team filled with incredible talent and strong personalities/big egos. How do you establish control over them? Make them worry that they’re not everything they’re cracked up to be, and that they need your guidance to get there. Jordan said as much in the documentary: the team had to listen to Daly after a group of college kids beat it, no matter how that victory was achieved. And when the college kids and pros faced off again? The Dream Team dominated, like they dominated every other opponent they faced. Well played, Daly.
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- Dream Team
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