NBA: Hall of Fame entry reunites original Dream Team

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The Independent Online

The Dream Team, the star-studded US line-up that dazzled foes as well as fans at the Barcelona Olympics, will be inducted Friday into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The squad, which rang in the inclusion of NBA stars in the Games, raised the profile of the game around the world as the best players on the planet banded together to win gold.

Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are among those already enshrined in the hall for their individual exploits who will go in again as teammates.

Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone will get a double induction - going in for their solo career achievements and as Dream Teamers.

"It was the very first time they put the NBA players together, so that was very special," Bird said. "The Olympics, growing up as a young kid, always dreaming, wondering what that feels like and being able to do it, it was very special, there's no question about it."

The 1960 US Olympic gold medalists - a powerhouse in their own right with Jerry West and Oscar Robertson - also will be inducted during the ceremony at Symphony Hall.

The United States sent the Dream Team to Barcelona after failing to win gold with university level players in 1988.

An international rule change the following year opened the door for professionals to play in the Olympics.

The Americans scored an Olympic-record 117.3 points per game, winning by an average of 43.8. Bird said the team prepared as if the games would be close, but fans, and even opponents, didn't seem to care that they never were.

"It was the first time that people came to a game and said 'I know the outcome, but I'm going to watch the artist perform,'" said NBA commissioner David Stern, adding the team "without question" was a catalyst for the NBA's global growth.

The team also included David Robinson and John Stockton - who was inducted along with Jordan last year - Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin and Christian Laettner.

Only Mullin, who has been a finalist, and Laettner, the team's lone collegian, aren't in as individuals.

The entire roster and all three assistant coaches will attend. Chuck Daly, the team's head coach, died last year.

Jordan, whose induction speech last year drew some criticism for appearing to use the occasion to settle old scores, will serve as Pippen's presenter.

Their relationship at Chicago was rocky at first after the Bulls made Pippen their top pick in 1987, but together they led the Bulls to six championships and set the NBA record with 72 wins in 1995-96.

"That first year, he got beat to death (by Michael) every day in practice. He'd just get beaten to death," former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause said. "He had to find out how to compete with Michael, and Michael taught him how to compete. And Michael, of course, and him got to be very close."

Malone was the league's Most Valuable Player twice and is second on the career scoring list.

Also to be inducted Friday are Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Cynthia Cooper, the WNBA's first superstar, and Bob Hurley, the longtime coach of St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Dennis Johnson, - whom Bird has called his greatest teammate - former Baltimore Bullets star Gus Johnson and Brazilian Maciel "Ubiratan" Pereira will be enshrined posthumously.

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