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Bob's Corner: Was there a Dream Team before 1992?

BOB'S CORNER: US correspondent Bob Craven is back, providing a further insight into the rift between the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons, before taking us back in time to the American Olympic team many consider was the "original" USA Dream Team. And that was right back in Rome in 1960.

I may have been a bit soft and/or premature in defending the 76ers and Ben Simmons re the WA Post guy's suggestion that the team and Ben were losers so far in this year's NBA free agent market.

The last couple of days have shown some new updates here. Media reports are now saying that the 76ers and Simmons are not speaking to each other and haven't been since their second round exit in the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks.

Then the team announced the signing of big man Joel Embiid to a massive contract extension - four years at $US196 million.

The release accompanying the announcement was effusive in its praise of him as a player, a teammate and a person.  This past season he was runner-up to Nikola Jokic as league MVP in helping the Sixers to the best record in the Eastern Conference, averaging 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. 

He was the #3 overall draft choice in 2014 out of the University of Kansas. They also made a point of noting his competitiveness and toughness as he tore a cartilage in his knee during the playoffs, but eventually played through it anyway.

In my last post, I mentioned the original "Dream Team", the US Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.  "Sports Illustrated" magazine (and others) called this the greatest sports team ever assembled.

Prior to that team being put together as the first to be allowed the use of professionals to play in the Olympics, I have always placed the US team for the Olympics in Rome in 1960 as the best ever. 

Certainly, they must be considered the best amateur team ever assembled, and the team itself was voted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Coached by University of California head coach, Pete Newell, their team roster would have challenged most of the NBA teams of the day.  The best known and most accomplished of them included:

Oscar Robertson
Jerry West
Jerry Lucas
Walt Bellamy
Terry Dischinger
Adrian Smith
Bob Boozer
Darrall Imhoff

Nine of the 12 on the team would go on to play in the NBA, and four of them (Robertson, West, Lucas and Bellamy) were eventually elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame, as was head coach Pete Newell. 

The eight listed above were also selected, some of them many times, to play in the NBA All-Star Game.  Several were selected as NBA Rookie of the Year in their first year of play.

The team won its games in Rome by an average of 42.4 points. It went 8-0 on its way to winning the gold medal and averaged 102 points per game.  Robertson was the leading scorer for the team, but Lucas was the money man in the semi-final and final games, scoring 26 in the semifinal against host Italy, and 21 in the 90-63 gold medal game win against Brazil. 

That 27-point margin was the closed any team came to them.

Five members of the team averaged in double figures during the games:  Robertson, Lucas, West, Dischinger and Smith. 

At 19, Dischinger was the youngest player on the team. Lucas was 20, and Bellamy, Imhoff and Robertson were all 21.

Little known fact: Due to an injury to the starting centre, Darrall Imhoff was the lucky winner of the lottery to try to guard Wilt Chamberlain during the game where he scored 100 points. During an interview sometime after the game, Imhoff was asked: "Who was playing defence against him?"  Imhoff, known as a rugged player on defence and on the boards, replied, "Nobody".

Totally unknown fact: Terry Dischinger spent a couple of years in the US Army in the mid-60's and was stationed in Hawaii. My University of Oregon team made a trip in December, 1966 to play a couple of games against the University of Hawaii. 

In between the two games, we played a game against a US Army All-Star team that was led by Dischinger as the player/coach. He and I played the same position so we guarded each other -fortunately, he was not into being the superstar and took it easy on me.

Aug 21

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