Barkley remembers USA Dream Team practices: ''It's the best thing I've ever experienced in my life''
BARCELONA (Spain) - USA legend Charles Barkley remembers fondly going up against some of the greatest players in the history of basketball at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Among them were Lithuania's Sarunas Marciulionis and Arvydas Sabonis in the Semi-Finals, and Croatia's Drazen Petrovic, Dino Radja and Toni Kukoc in the Final.
Barkley led the Dream Team in scoring at 18.0 points per game in Barcelona
But, Barkley recalls, nothing comes close to the competition he faced in the intrasquad scrimmages at those Summer Games, when the stars of the Dream Team practiced.
"It was a battle of egos," according to Barkley, who spoke this week to the show Get Up! on ESPN.
"It was awesome, the best thing I've ever experienced in my life because you had me and Karl Malone - we were the best power forwards in the world, trying to kill each other every day. You had Michael, who hated Clyde Drexler, and they tried to kill each other.
“IT WAS ALSO AMAZING THAT ONCE THE GAME WAS OVER, WE WENT BACK TO GET ON THE BUS, WENT BACK TO THE HOTEL TOGETHER, AND WE ACTED LIKE NOTHING EVER HAPPENED. THAT'S HOW COOL IT WAS”
"You had David Robinson, (Patrick Ewing) trying to prove who was the best center in the world, they were trying to kill each other.
"And then you had Magic, you know Scottie (and Chicago) had just beaten them (the Los Angeles Lakers) in the Finals and he wanted to get revenge.
"So it was the most intense thing, not just this one day. It was like that every single day. Guys were all trying to prove their point. It was amazing.
"It was amazing for two things. Number one, we were all trying to kill each other. But it was also amazing that once the game was over, we went back to get on the bus, went back to the hotel together, and we acted like nothing ever happened. That's how cool it was."
The tough practices only served to make the USA players better for the actual games against other countries. They defeated Angola (116-48), Croatia (103-70), Germany (111-68), Brazil (127-83), Spain (122-81), Puerto Rico (115-87), Lithuania (127-86) and in the Final, again Croatia (117-85).
Larry Bird, Barkley and Karl Malone listened to 1992 USA head coach Chuck Daly in practice
Barkley, who won the gold medal at Barcelona as the USA's leading scorer at 18.0 points per game and also reached the top of the podium four years later at the Atlanta Olympics, was asked about his teammate on the Dream Team, Michael Jordan.
Barkley said it was real eye-opener.
"Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are the two greatest I've ever seen do what they do and being around both of those guys. I've never seen fans react to Michael and Tiger like anyone else in the world. I hope that every young player realizes that Michael just wanted to be the greatest basketball player ever."