Bird returns to Hall of Fame with Dream Team

Editor's Note: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson will return to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., this weekend to be inducted (again) as representatives of the 1992 Dream Team that swept to the Olympic gold medal with an average victory margin of 43.8 points, including a 117-85 rout of Croatia (with Toni Kukoc and Drazen Petrovic) in the final. Bird, who finished his NBA career with the 1991-92 season, averaged 8.4 points and 3.8 rebounds. In this exclusive Q&A with Conrad Brunner of Pacers.com, he reflects on his Dream Team experience.


The Dream Team: (back row from L) Patrick Ewing, Christian Laettner, Magic Johnson, David Robinson, Karl Malone; (middle row, from L) Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Coach Chuck Daly, Charles Barkley, Chris Mullin; (front row, from L) Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
Q. What will it be like, accepting this honor on behalf of the Dream Team with Magic Johnson?
A. Magic will do all the talking and I'll stand there next to him.

Q. As you were going through it, did you realize the Dream Team would forever change the scope of international basketball?)
A. Dave Gavitt (USA Basketball's administrative leader of the Dream Team) told me if he could get the team together that he wants, it would change the landscape of basketball throughout the whole world and he was right.

Q. Considering the back problems that made 1991-92 your final NBA season, how were you physically during that period of time?
A. It was a problem. We had a tournament in Portland and I was able to just play the first game and then I had the nerve thing down my leg again. But in the Olympics I felt pretty good. I was stiff and I wasn't 100 percent but at least I didn't have all the pain that I was having earlier. I played about 18-19 minutes a game, so that was plenty.

Q. It has become commonplace for analysts to refer to the Dream Team as the greatest team ever assembled in sport. Do you agree?
A. There was a lot of talent there and obviously we took care of business, we won the gold medal, but everything's debatable. I'll leave that up to the fans.

Q. Has there ever been another Dream Team? Will there ever be another Dream Team?
A. I don't know. Back in 1960 was a pretty good team so maybe they started it but just didn’t come up with the name. We had a very good team. Every year is different but we were very proud and it was very special to be on that team.

Q. What will be the bigger thrill for you this weekend, the induction of the Dream Team or the long-due recognition of your former teammate, the late Dennis Johnson?
A. They're both the same. You can't compare them. I'm very happy for D.J., his family's going to be there, it's going to be a good time. But the Dream Team is very special also.

Q. What was your biggest memory of that whole experience?
A. The one thing that stands out is we knew what our challenges were and we accepted those challenges. When we went out on the court we took care of business. Everybody was on the same page, it didn't matter who was getting the job done just as long as we got the job done. We were very unselfish, we moved the basketball, played good defense – just took care of business.

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