Pop quiz: who was the leading scorer on the 1992 and 1996 US Olympic basketball teams? It can’t be Michael Jordan, since he wasn’t on the ’96 team. Neither is it Karl Malone, who played on both teams but didn’t score enough points to be the leading scorer. David Robinson and John Stockton, who were also part of both teams, fell short as well.
The answer, of course, is Charles Barkley, who averaged 18.0 points in eight games with the original Dream Team in Barcelona, and 12.4 points in another eight games with the ’96 Dream Team in Atlanta. In Barcelona, Barkley shot 71% from the field, including an incredible 87.5% from three-point distance as Team USA romped to the gold medal, winning their games by an average of 43 points. This included a 30-point performance against Brazil, which at the time was an Olympic single-game record. In Atlanta, Barkley, by then already 33, outshone his younger teammates and shot even better than he did in Barcelona, hitting at an 81% clip from the field as the Americans again waltzed to the gold.
Ironically, Sir Charles was cut from the 1984 Olympic Team after US coach Bob Knight felt he wasn’t a good fit for the team, thus preventing him from becoming the first player to win three Olympic golds in men’s basketball.
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