NBA legend Scottie Pippen describes the experience playing in the greatest game that nobody ever saw when the Dream Team was preparing for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Nothing was more important than that scrimmage
In his new autobiography, “Unguarded”, Scottie Pippen talks about his experience participating in a more heated and competitive practice than many games he played throughout his career. The original Dream Team was getting ready for the Olympics tournament in Barcelona, and in their training camp in Monte Carlo, they put on an exhibition match that was like no other.
That specific game holds a special place in Pippen’s heart because the level of competitiveness in that scrimmage was through the roof, with each player trying to prove something. Remember, you had 11 future HOF on the same squad that were respective leaders of their NBA franchises during those years.
“However, when I think of Monte Carlo, I don’t think of the prince or the casino. Or even the women. I think of the game one day in practice between the Blue Team led by Magic(which included Barkley, Mullin, Robinson, and Laettner) and the White Team led by Michael. Of all the basketball that was played from La Jolla through Barcelona, the game in Monte Carlo was at a level beyond anything else.“
Players were divided into two squads. The Blue Team and the White Team with Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson being named the captains of those squads. Pippen said the game was full of constant trash-talking, especially between Michael and Magic and many great plays that perfectly depicted how genuinely amazing this team really was. For Pippen, the true essence of the game was felt that day because it was them competing like they were little kids again, trying to outperform each other in any way possible.
The game meant nothing but everything at the same time
Everybody on that team had something to prove, and it was a pure joy to see the best players on the planet just play the game they loved in a completely different atmosphere than what they were used to, given the fact they mostly played in packed arenas.
“The Last Dance captured it well: the trash-talking between Magic and Michael and how Michael’s team, which I was on( the other three players were Larry, Karl, and Patrick) came back to win. What the doc could not capture, no footage possibly could, was what it felt like to watch the best players in the world put their heart and soul into a game that meant nothing. And everything. It was as if we had gone back in time to when we were boys on courts such as Pine Street, playing for the pure love for the game. The game that gave us life even more amazing than the one in our dreams.”
Obviously, Jordan’s team won that scrimmage, but there was no bad blood between them which they proved in the Olympics tournament where they stormed through the competition, winning the gold medal. Chuck Daly’s assistant was apparently recording this game, and hopefully, one day, the public would be able to see what it looks like when some of the most iconic players in NBA history go up against each other in a game that had such intensity and passion.