NEPA Sports Nation

NATION NOSTALGIA: Carlesimo assisted in coaching Dream Team

Michael Jordan set an Olympic basketball record 29 years ago – for assists in a game.

Hands down the greatest basketball team ever assembled, the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team, had so many scoring options that Jordan became distributor for the day July 29, 1992 when he dished out 12 assists while also finishing as 1 of 5 double-figures scorers.

John Stockton and Magic Johnson, ranked first and sixth in National Basketball Association history in career assists, had the day off so Jordan made sure the ball got to the team’s shooters and finishers in a 111-68 pool play rout of Germany.

The names that made up the player roster when pros were added to the U.S. Olympic basketball team roster for the first time are known by most of the sport’s fans.

Scranton was represented on the coaching staff, which also included some of the game’s greats.

P.J. Carlesimo was still at Seton Hall University when he served on the Team USA staff headed by Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly, who had won NBA titles in 1988-89 and 1989-90.

Daly’s staff included Mike Krzyzewski, major college basketball’s all-time winningest coach, and Lenny Wilkens, who ranks second all-time in NBA coaching wins.

Carlesimo, a Scranton Prep graduate, split his career between college and NBA coaching.

At the time the Dream Team was put together, Carlesimo was 10 seasons into a 12-year run at Seton Hall, which he took to the 1989 national championship game.

In a 2020 interview with Red Line Editorial for a story posted on story, Carlesimo said: “It was literally a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I don’t think there’s ever been a team like that and I doubt there ever will be again.”

Jordan, Johnson and Stockton were joined by Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler and Christian Laettner on the 12-player roster.

Daly and his staff never had need to call a single timeout in eight games at the Olympics.

Barkley, who wound up leading the team with 16.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, famously responded to a press conference question before the first game: “I don’t know anything about Angola, but Angola’s in trouble.”

Team USA proceeded to beat Angola, 116-48, in the opener and won 6 of 8 games by at least 38 points.

The two closest games were both against Croatia, 103-70 in pool play and 117-85 in the final.

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