Andre's Reviews > Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever

Dream Team by Jack McCallum
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Jul 28, 12

Read from July 16 to 25, 2012

I was highly disappointed in this book. Instead of being about the Dream Team, it was more about Jack McCallum’s experience covering the Dream Team. It was not about the players, the team, and what they meant to the Olympics so much as it was about the author’s feelings about them. The end product was not very enjoyable. It was, in fact, highly disappointing.


The biggest takeaway for me was that McCallum’s just not good at writing long, book-length pieces. From chapter to chapter, the narrative was disjointed. It did not feel like one cohesive work, but rather a series of independent essays that, fairly often, contradicted each other. One of the major contradictions involve Isiah Thomas’ exclusion from the team. In Chapter 5, McCallum wrote that he believes the major strike against Thomas was his agreement with Dennis Rodman that Larry Bird would have been just another player had he been Black. Later, he stated that Isiah was never really under consideration because Michael Jordan’s initial reaction to being approached about playing was to tell Rod Thorn that he wouldn’t be on the team if Isiah was. Still, in another chapter, McCallum wrote that Isiah used an intermediary to lobby Magic Johnson for support and that Magic never spoke up because Isiah had questioned his sexuality after the HIV diagnosis. The initial announcement was made on September 21, 1991; Magic’s announcement wasn’t until November 7 of that year. Isiah was left off the initial roster long before Magic’s HIV was known.


Other takeaways are that McCallum doesn’t have a lot of respect for Charles Barkley and that he really doesn’t like Magic Johnson. Throughout the book, he went out of his way to disparage both players. But, oh, how he loves Larry Bird.


The subject of Christian Laettner versus Shaquille O’Neal was a rather large omission from the text. That subject cannot be ignored. It should have been explored.


The author tried to be clever with his phrases, but it rarely worked for me. Far too often for my liking, the book was littered with condescending statements. Here’s one: “When talking about Bird, one must be careful not to carry those Midwestern attributes too far because you run the risk of making him sound dumb…” Another: “My late father-in-law was a straight-shooting kind of guy—he kept the trains running on schedule at a plant that manufactured condensers and pumps, good old-fashioned American stuff like that—so he understandably had trouble getting his mind around the Dream Team’s decision to hold pre-Olympic training in Monte Carlo.”


And, man, can this man watch a newish movie? Every movie reference is so dated you would think the book was written before the Dream Team had even been assembled. Of the dozen or so films referenced, I think Basic Instinct is the most recent. I think it’s a sign that this book wasn’t written for me or my generation. It’s an old man’s book. Given the subject matter, that is probably its biggest failing.

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