“If they were in the Olympics, they’d win the silver medal.”
This came from Michael Jordan, who was never the one to hand out praise left and right. But on that day, Bobby Hurley, Chris Webber, Grant Hill, Allan Houston, Rodney Rogers, Eric Montross, Penny Hardaway, and Jamal Mashburn deserved it. To this day, they are the only group to ever beat the Dream Team in a legendary scrimmage before the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona.
Mashburn joined Darius Miles, and Quentin Richardson on the Knuckleheads podcast to talk about their iconic victory over the best basketball team of all time and everything else that preceded it. He discovered that, unlike their on-court encounter, Larry Bird stole the show during the lead-up to the game, starting an intimidation campaign the day before their scrimmage.
We go up to our floor and we’re walking in the corridor and we see this tall white guy coming down the hall. I’m like, ‘Damn, that look like Larry Bird.’ So he walked by us and he says, ‘Y’all those college guys?‘ We was like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ He looked at us and said, ‘Get some f*ckin’ rest, it’s gonna be a long week.’Jamal Mashburn, Knuckleheads
However, it ended up being a long first practice for the Dream Team instead. Some may dispute how it happened, but the reported margin of their only loss was around eight points — perhaps 62-54, though Chuck Daly ordered the scoreboard removed before reporters were allowed in.
Allan Houston poured in 3s; Webber and Rogers dunked on Barkley, Hurley sliced through the defense as the college team talked trash. Coach Daly was pretty blase with the result, saying, “We’re all right,” but the whole nation wasn’t. The game was the wake-up call the Dream Team needed and a huge confidence boost for eight youngsters on the Select Team — so much that one of them had to poke the bear.
We get back to the hotel, and Rodney Rodgers said, ‘Hey, Larry, you ain’t hit a jumper since ’84.’Jamal Mashburn, Knuckleheads
Magic overheard what Rodgers said to Bird and made it his mission to help Larry bring the college kids back to earth. So when two teams faced each other the very next day, Mashburn witnessed a basketball performance unlike no other he had seen before.
Magic Johnson fed Larry Bird the ball probably about eight times in a row down court. Larry Bird got the ball on Rodney Rogers, and every time he was about to make a move, he told him what he was going to do. He scored nine or eight times in a row, left the court to go lay down because he couldn’t sit on a bench — he had to lay down because of his back — and said, ‘Young fella, look like ’84, huh?‘Jamal Mashburn, Knuckleheads
The Dream Team kicked the college team’s ass for the rest of the week, and none of them said something to Larry Legend ever again.
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