Dion Cocoros, one of the executive producers of “The Dream Team,” the excellent new documentary that premieres tonight on NBA TV, helped dig up that footage. In an interview with Keeping Score, Cocoros talks about how he got all 12 Dream Team members to sit down for interviews, why Isiah Thomas, the most prominent player left off the team, didn’t want to talk, and how the NBA would be different without the Dream Team. How did this project start? We knew the 20th anniversary of the team was approaching, and we also knew that we had this great archival footage because we had followed the team back in 1992. It was a project that we knew eventually we were going to undertake. It was just a matter of getting all the players together.
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Just as fascinating are the segments showing competing teams kneeling in front of the Dream Team before the game for pictures. One player takes photos of the team during a game, and one guy even shakes Magic’s hand right before he shoots a free throw. Have we forgotten how awe-inspiring this team really was? There’s a little thing that didn’t make it into the film where Larry Bird talks about the bus on the way to the gold medal game. The opposing team’s bus pulled over so their bus could go past them. And even Larry Bird, he was almost embarrassed by it. They’re going to fight for a gold medal and the other team’s already deferring to them on the road to the game. Things like that really blew those guys away.
What’s the Dream Team’s ultimate legacy? The players from around the world that are stars in the NBA now, they were kids when the Dream Team was playing. Barkley says that guys like [Manu] Ginobili and [Tony] Parker and Dirk [Nowitzki] tell him all the time that their love of basketball started with the Dream Team. I think the legacy is being the greatest team ever but also opening the door for so many international players to play the game at such a high level.