The original ‘Dream Team‘ is still one of the most dominant basketball teams ever assembled. A team featuring multiple HOF players won the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona in a dominant fashion, and their impact on the game of basketball was evident when the tournament started. Several members on that team said that being a part of that squad felt like they were rock stars with all the publicity they were getting, but most media focused on none other than Michael Jordan.
The biggest surprise in Barcelona
After winning two straight NBA championships, Jordan became the new face of the NBA and the best player in the league. He was the leader of that Olympic team that already featured many legendary players. Still, one player, according to Chuck Daly, their head coach, showcased his skillset the most during the tournament, which was a pleasant surprise for everyone when you consider how stacked that team was. It was none other than Jordan’s teammate Scottie Pippen.
Pippen was already the best wing player in the NBA during those years, and his versatility on the court was almost unmatched. Daly knew how good Pippen was because he faced the Chicago Bulls multiple times when coaching the Detroit Pistons. However, when the Dream Team assembled and started playing in games, Daly was surprised because he witnessed firsthand Pippen’s brilliance on both ends of the floor.
You never really know how good a player is until you coach him, but Pippen was the great surprise in Barcelona - the confidence with which he played and the absolutely complete nature of his game on offense and defense. No one else really expected it.
The best player on the Dream Team
If you look at the stats from the tournament, you probably wouldn’t understand why Daly thought Pippen was the best player on that team. Pippen only leads the team in assists averaging six per game. On top of that, he scored 9 points per game to go along with three steals. The stats don’t tell the whole story. Still, throughout the tournament, it was clear Pippen was more than capable of taking on the most difficult defensive assignments while at the same time contributing in significant ways on offense as well.
I know Michael's the best player, but Pippen was the best player on that team.
Pippen’s versatility characterized how he played the game, which was crucial to Bull’s success during the ’90s. Jordan was the best player, but if it wasn’t for Pippen and his ability to guard the best guards and forwards on the opposing teams while still giving the Bulls 20 points per game, it’s hard to imagine them winning as many championships as they did. Pippen is often overlooked in debates on the best wing players in the history of the NBA, but you would immediately understand why Daly held him in such high regard if you watched some of his games in his prime.