The Dream Team’s Enduring Style

If you're a fan of basketball at all, you already know all about the Dream Team, and who they were, and what they did, and how well they did it. But if you're not, I'll try to define them here in one sentence: the Dream Team was a team of 11 future NBA Hall of Famers (and one college kid) who comprised the 1992 Olympic USA Basketball team and absolutely killed it. That's it. Legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird joined forces, and led the USA team as they completely dismantled every team they faced en route to an undefeated run to the gold medal in Barcelona—that college kid was Christian Laettner, and, needless to say, he didn't play much at all. Even if you have a strong distaste for basketball, you can probably appreciate some of the gear that the players wore as they took the world (not just South Beach) by storm with their talents.

A little surprising by today's standards, all of the Olympic jerseys and shorts were supplied by Champion. Yup, the same Champion that made that awful replica Denver Nuggets jersey you had growing up that cost your parents maybe $10 at JCPenney (was that just me?). The USA logo the Dream Team wore was one of the best of all time, and I really mean that—'96 looked like it was created on Microsoft Paint, '00 and '04 took the "let's be as boring and nondescript as possible" approach, '08 tried to spice things up with the inclusion of a star and failed horribly at being even remotely memorable, and the recently unveiled 2012 logo looks like something your "edgy" friend (who thinks he's really good at graphic design, but is actually really mediocre at everything) designed—we need to get that shit all the way the fuck outta here. But damn, that '92 logo is objectively great, and it makes watching videos and looking at pictures of the team in action even more enjoyable than it already is.

I don't believe in endorsing my competition. I feel very strongly about loyalty to my own company.

The Dream Team's red, white, and blue warm-up uniforms were supplied by Reebok. The entire team wore them while on the bench or during shoot-arounds and practices, amongst other team activites. It's interesting to note that Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, both Nike athletes at the time, originally refused to wear the warm-ups with the Reebok logos. Jordan put it bluntly, "I don't believe in endorsing my competition. I feel very strongly about loyalty to my own company." After later being criticized by journalists, Jordan and Barkley submitted to wearing the warm-ups, but Jordan made sure he put his own touch on it. Racing up to the stands before the awards ceremony, Jordan collected an American flag, draped it over his shoulders, and pinned it to his jersey, all in order to cover the Reebok logo on his warm-ups as he received his gold medal. What's crazy is that Nike didn't even ask Jordan to do this—dude was just that loyal to Nike. "We agreed not to deface the Reebok outfits so it was a convenient way out of things. I don't want people to think I was cheapening the flag. There's no way I'd demean the US flag," Jordan said of the act.

And then there's my favorite part—the shoes. I grew up idolizing most of these guys (excluding Christian Laettner of course—sorry, man) and wanted to have anything that made me feel more like them. It should come as no surprise that the shoes were the easiest thing to get. Well, that's not entirely accurate. They were expensive as all hell and I definitely couldn't afford them, but it was the most directly game-influencing piece of attire you could get your hands on at the time. While Jordan's sneakers, the Air Jordan Olympic VII, have become the most popular and remembered (I mean, it's Jordan, of course that's going to happen), Pippen's kicks, the Nike Air Flight Lite, are the ones I always look back to, though they really aren't anything special. Maybe it's because I always root for the underdog and Pippen sort of filled that role, always living in the shadow of Jordan. Maybe it's because I felt a lot more like Pippen growing up than I did Jordan (I always ended up getting played at power forward, even though I weighed less than a bag of sand, solely because I was sort-of-kind-of-maybe-a-little-bit tall. Really, coach? Me? At power forward? C'mon.). Maybe it's because I saw George fiend after the shoes Pippen wore to the following Olympics in George of the Jungle. Whatever the reason was, those were my favorite. The other players on the squad weren't slacking, though, when it came to footwear. Barkley wore the now-iconic Nike Air Force 180 (which Nike happens to be re-releasing in a couple of weeks). Ewing came through in his sick self-branded Eclipse Hi's. Karl Malone killed it in his L.A. Gears. Larry Bird rode out the final chapter in his storied career in his Cons, and the rest of the gang kept up too. Hell, even Laettner joined in on the fun and came correct in his Nike Air Flight Huaraches.