A couple of months ago, Shaq ruffled some feathers saying that the Dream Team was “Still the second-best Dream Team,” and to make sure we knew Shaq was aware of what he was saying, he added, “Yeah, I said it!” Shaq’s Dream Team II teammate Derrick Coleman is here to support his statement.
“‘They can’t f*** with us. They can’t f*** with us!‘ Look, man, I got the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, man, Shaquille O’Neal, bro. Who do you want to put at the forward – me, Shawn Kemp, Larry Johnson??!? I got Joe (Dumars) and Mark Price at my guards, and Tim Hardaway and Kevin Johnson. Come on, man. Dominique Wilkins. And ‘Nique’ should have been on the first one. Alonzo Mourning. And Reggie Miller! And Dan Majerle! And me and Steve from Michigan. Come on, man. Yeah!”Derrick Coleman, The Players’ Tribune
The original Dream Team was indeed majestic. But two years later, USA Basketball assembled Dream Team II with a clear mission of retaking the 1st place in the FIBA World championship. Back in the 1990 World Championship USA won the bronze medal, but the climb to the medal podium came after the thrilling OT thriller against Puerto Rico. Not to mention an epic 99-91 semifinal defeat from the mighty Yugoslavian NT with an NBA roster. But four years later, it was longtime NBA executive Rod Thorne, who was in charge of running the USA Basketball and assembling the USA 1994 World Championship team.
“It was great man! I was driving, and Rod Thorne calls me on my phone. He said, ‘Hey man, we got Dream Team II, you know, we want to put you on the team.’ He was runnin’ off everybody else who was on a team. I’m excited about it. And he says ‘and your homeboy Steve Smith.’ Check-mate. Don Nelson was our coach like I said, we had so much fun man.”Derrick Coleman, The Players’ Tribune
The majestic roster, one of the best ever, featured some of the players who were in contention for the original Dream Team like Dominique Wilkins and Shaquille O’Neal. In general, the Dream Team II roster consisted of two groups of players. Rising stars such as Alonzo Mourning, Shawn Kemp, Derrick Coleman, Larry Johnson, Steve Smith, and Dan Majerle boosted the team with limitless energy. Experienced backcourt players such as Mark Price, Tim Hardaway, Kevin Johnson, Joe Dumars, Reggie Miller were in charge of the Creative department. Don Nelson coached the team.
The opportunity to represent their country at the international stage made the players, their families, and friends were very proud. It gave the players the precious time together, the time to talk about their everyday struggles, and created a special bond between them, which still lasts today.
“And, it, more than anything, it gave us, all of us, the vibe. People don’t understand us. We all go through the same struggles, man. We don’t share that with anybody, but we share that with each other. Because I understand that you understand. So it gave us a chance, man, to vibe, we had so much fun, man. It’s crazy. They’ll still kind of ‘ride us’ all like we won that deal.”Derrick Coleman, The Players’ Tribune
Having no real competition across the whole tournament, the United States faced the Russian NT in the final game. Previously, Russia edged the Croatian NT, which featured NBA ‘young guns’ Toni Kukoč and Dino Rađa in the semifinal clash. Now, they were about to face the mighty Dream Team II. Coleman amazed the crowd in Toronto by astonishingly opening the game by missing only once from the field, scoring 13 points, grabbing three boards, and dishing out two assists. All that in the first ten minutes of the game! Everything was over by the halftime with the United States leading by 73-40!
“Don, Coach Nelson, every time we played, we had a different team, for a start. It’s the chill! So he’s like ‘Come on Shaq, Derrick, Reggie…’, you know. So, I’m walking by him and sayin’ ‘Hey, Coach, I’m gonna get this shit over real quick. Ya, hear me, real quick!’ I had like the first thirteen myself.“Derrick Coleman, The Players’ Tribune
The final game showed no different story than the rest of the competition. Dream Team II continued its unprecedented domination by demolishing the 1993 European vice-champions, Russian NT, by 137-91. It was The Human Highlight Film Dominique Wilkins, who lead Team USA scorers with 20 points. After four years of waiting for the vengeance, the USA finally made it to the highest plateau on the winner’s podium. Russia took the silver and Croatia bronze medal, after solving Greece in the 3rd place game.
“Me and Steve, we’re sitting right there, man, on the podium. I said, ‘Bro, we went from the ghetto to a gold medal, can you believe it?!? Can you believe this, man??? Not in your wildest dreams, from we come from.‘”Derrick Coleman, The Players’ Tribune
For the tournament, Coleman appeared in eight contests and played a total of 102 minutes. The ninth leading scorer on a team averaged 7.8 points, 4.5 boards, and 0.9 assists per game while shooting 65.5% from the field and 50% from beyond the three-point arc.