The 1992 USA Dream Team is by far the biggest collection of talent and greatness on one basketball team in history, but even such a group had to have that leader on top. Michael Jordan definitely played that role, but some would say Charles Barkley was actually the MVP of that team.
Best in the world
At the time, Michael Jordan was in the midst of his first three-peat, establishing his place amongst the best in history. There was no question that he was the leader of the iconic "Dream Team" that won gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. But he had a hell of a supporting cast behind him.
Who was the #2 is up for huge debate, with numerous contributors and legends playing their part. The leading scorer of the whole team was Charles Barkley, and it was noted by players even that the "Chuckster" is the true MVP of the team due to his all-round contribution and fiery attitude.
When you ask Charles today, he believes only Jordan can be put in front of him on that team.
"There was only one MF-er. Michael... Hell yeah! Go back and look. Go back and check."
Charles Barkley, The Pivot Podcast
Charles averaged 18.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, and 2.6 spg in just 18.6 minutes per game. Although he stirred up the headlines with a couple of controversial statements and actions during games, Barkley delivered with his on-court production and fiery nature, lifting up the whole team.
Barkley also shared a conversation with Chuck Daly, in which he revealed his ambitions for next season:
"Chuck Daly said to me, 'Charles, can I talk to you for a second.' I say, 'Yeah Chuck, anything.' He says, 'You're the second-best basketball player in the world.' I said, 'Who better than me?' He says, 'That MF-er right there (MJ).' I said, 'You're right about that.' I've said it many times. That's the best compliment I've ever gotten from somebody. I said, 'I actually agree with you'. I said, 'But you know what? I'm gonna put an end to that sh*t next year. We're playing them mother*****rs in the finals and I'm gonna bring it'," Charles Barkley told the hilarious story.
At least Daly kept it real with Barkley, and he accepted it without a problem. And he wasn't lying when he said he would bring it next season. It would be his first season with the Phoenix Suns, averaging 25.6 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.6spg, and 1.0 bpg, winning the MVP award.
It was the best season of Barkley's career, as he led the Suns all the way to the Finals, but it wasn't enough to stop the dynasty Bulls and MJ. Although Charles didn't deliver entirely on his promise, he certainly did a hell of a job, proving he was indeed the unquestioned second-best player on the Dream Team.