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1984 United States men's Olympic basketball team

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The 1984 United States men's Olympic basketball team competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, representing the United States. The team, coached by Indiana Hoosiers coach Bob Knight, won the gold medal. It was the last amateur U.S. team to win an Olympic gold medal in men's basketball. The team was considered one of the strongest in U. S. history as it featured four of the five 1984 consensus first team All-Americans in Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Wayman Tisdale, and Sam Perkins. The talent pool for the U.S. team was so strong that Charles Barkley and John Stockton — future first round picks and hall of famers — did not make the roster.

Contents

The Olympic tournament was notable in that many Eastern Bloc countries opted to boycott the games in retaliation of the United States' boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Olympic trials

Trials for the team were held in April 1984 on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Seventy players attended the trials. Kentucky post players Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin chose to skip the trials to concentrate on the upcoming 1984 NBA Draft, and Keith Lee of Memphis State, Len Bias of Maryland and Kenny Smith of North Carolina ultimately pulled out as well. Knight led the trials with assistant coaches George Raveling, Don Donoher and C. M. Newton, whittling the prospects to twenty by the end of the first week.

During the trials, Auburn junior Charles Barkley impressed with his performance - most observers felt he and North Carolina guard Michael Jordan were the two top performers. However, Barkley's and Knight's strong personalities did not mesh and Barkley was one of the last cuts for the roster. Released with Barkley in the penultimate cut from 20 to 16 players in May were John Stockton, Terry Porter, and Maurice Martin. Knight's final cut to twelve players came in June, and the final four let go were Tim McCormick, Lancaster Gordon, Johnny Dawkins, and Chuck Person (Dawkins and Person served as alternates for the team). The most controversial selection was Knight's own player, Steve Alford, who at 19 was the team's youngest player and who most did not expect to make the team.

Olympic tournament

The team went 8-0 in the Olympic tournament, averaging 95.4 points per game and holding their opponents to 63.3. Four players averaged double-figures: Michael Jordan (17.1), Chris Mullin (11.6), Patrick Ewing (11.0) and Steve Alford (10.3). Wayman Tisdale led the team in rebounding (6.4 per game), while Leon Wood led the team in assists (7.9 per game).

Results

  • USA 97, China 49
  • USA 89, Canada 68
  • USA 104, Uruguay 68
  • USA 120, France 62
  • USA 101, Spain 68
  • USA 78, Federal Republic of Germany 67
  • USA 78, Canada 59
  • USA 96, Spain 65
  • Legacy

    The 1984 Olympics was a coming-out party for Michael Jordan, who led the U. S. team in scoring and dazzled the worldwide viewing audience with his athleticism and speed. In addition to Jordan, the team featured two other future Hall of Famers in Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin (who would later reunite with Jordan as a part of the 1992 Dream Team). Jordan recalled that while this Olympic experience was exciting, it had also been trying because of Knight: "I don't know if I would have done it if I knew what Knight was going to be like."

    The Olympics and trials helped the draft stock of several players. Vern Fleming and Jeff Turner parlayed their Olympic exposure into first-round spots in the 1984 draft, while several players cut from the team either received strong recommendations from Knight (future Hall of Famer John Stockton and Tim McCormick) or benefited from exposure from the trials (Barkley and Lancaster Gordon).

    References

    1984 United States men's Olympic basketball team Wikipedia


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