The original ‘Dream Team’ is considered to be one of the greatest basketball teams ever assembled. They raised the bar relatively high for any other team in terms of popularity and pretty much brought the NBA to the rest of the world on the biggest stage possible.
Dream Team's dominance on the Olympics
They swept the competition and won the tournament with an average margin of victory of an astonishing 43.8 points. They averaged 117.3 points per game while, on the other hand, only allowing 73.5 points per game.
There weren’t as many international players in the NBA as it is now, but they were starting to make their presence felt, asserting more prominent roles within their teams. The Olympics in Barcelona was a perfect opportunity for the rest of the international players to see the NBA players in real for the first time in their careers, and most of them already knew they didn’t stand a chance against the likes of Jordan, Bird, Magic, Barkley, and others.
Drazen Petrovic believed he had a chance
In some of the deleted parts from the Dream Team Documentary, John Stockton said there was only one international player who wasn't afraid of the Dream Team and actually thought he could win. The name of that player is Drazen Petrovic, who at that time established himself as one of the shooters in the NBA, and one of the first international players to receive recognization from the rest of the league and the fans themselves.
Stockton said that he felt sorry for other teams because they immediately knew they don't have a chance to win the game, but Petrovic had a different mentality. He actually thought that if he was playing, the Croatian team could beat the Dream Team. Interestingly, the Croatian team was the only one on the entire tournament to lead against the Dream Team in the finals when they led 25-23. Afterward, it was a three from Charles Barkley that gave the lead back to the US team, and they eventually won the game.
"I almost felt sorry for other teams. I knew they knew that they had no chance to beat us. Going in, you could see it in their eyes, you could see them walking on the court, you could see it on their body language and everything. A couple of them I knew from the NBA. The only one that had a different approach when we came across him was Drazen Petrovic. He was the one unique person that thought he had a chance and played like it. He was the one guy that stood out."
Younger NBA fans probably don't know much about Petrovic, but he was indeed one of the first great European guards in the league. After being traded from Portland, where he played behind Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter, Petrovic came to the Nets, where he blossomed to a productive scorer averaging 22 points per game. Coming into the league, he was a hard worker and had a mentality nobody was better than him, no matter who is in front of him. Remember, this guy scored 50,60 points in Europe on multiple occasions before coming to the NBA, where he left a mark before tragically dying at the age of 28 in a car accident.