Chapter 9: 1984 Olympic games
As a junior in college, Michael Jordan had already accomplished more than most basketball players have in their entire lives. He won a NCAA championship his freshman year, won player of the year honors the next two years, and also won a gold medal at the Pan American games. He was fast becoming a household name in America, and the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles would make him an international basketball star.
The U.S. Olympic team entered the 1984 Games under strange circumstances. 4 year earlier in 1980, 62 nations boycotted the Olympic games in Moscow in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. basketball team, unable to participate in the games, began hosting the Gold Medal Series, a series of games against NBA all-stars in various cities.
Here is one of those games from 1984, with Jordan leading the team.
Olympic team vs. NBA all stars
The 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team was coached by University of Indiana’s Bobby Knight, and led by Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullen, and Sam Perkins. The gold medal series of matches gave the young Olympic team plenty of run against world class opponents, adequately preparing them for the 1984 games, during which they assembled a 7-0 record going into the finals. Jordan however, left the biggest impression on everyone.
“When Michael gets the ball on the break only one thing’s going to happen,” said Olympic teammate Steve Alford. “Some kind of dunk.” “Sometimes the players get into the habit of just watching Michael,” Alford said, “because he’s usually going to do something you don’t want to miss.”
It’s worth noting that in response to the boycott of 1980, the Soviet Union and a number of other communists states boycotted the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. At the time the Soviet Union was considered to be the biggest challenger to the U.S. in basketball. However, many agree that the Soviet’s participation would not have changed the final outcome of the games.
The finals was a match up against Spain, another great challenger for the U.S. But seeing as the U.S. had cruised through their earlier matches with an average winning margin of 32 points, the final result seemed to be a forgone conclusion. The U.S. won the game with a score of 96-65.
Gold medal game
Now Michael Jordan had a NCAA title, a Pan American games gold medal, and an Olympic gold medal, all before playing his first professional game in the NBA. While he was busy preparing for the Olympics, the lowly Chicago Bulls had drafted Michael Jordan with their 3rd pick in the 1984 draft, turning the next decade in into one few basketball fans will ever forget.