Appearing on the Bulls Talk Podcast with Jason Goff, David Robinson said it was no mystery why Isiah Thomas was left off the original 1992 Dream Team.
In fact, Robinson said no one — including Thomas — should be surprised.
“If you have a reputation and you take pride in your reputation as a ‘Bad Boy’ it kind of means people aren’t going to like you,” Robinson told Goff. “Can you be that surprised when people say ‘I don’t really want to play with the ‘Bad Boys?’”
Robinson went on to praise Thomas for his career accomplishments, including winning two NBA titles with the Pistons, but he admitted that the formulation of the Dream Team wasn’t just about putting the 12 best players together.
“When you talk about putting together a team, chemistry matters. It does,” Robinson said. “You can’t act like it doesn’t matter and for that team it was clear that was a consideration for all the people involved.”
Team USA, of course, rolled over the competition in the 1992 Olympics, and the practices ended up being more competitive than the games.
“You couldn’t pull a man off that team and say that it wasn’t some of the most incredible basketball, most intense stuff they’ve ever felt,” Robinson said.
The Olympic experience wasn’t as enjoyable for Toni Kukoc, whose Croatia team lost to Team USA twice in 1992. Kukoc was drafted by the Bulls in 1990, but didn’t make the move to the NBA until 1993.
Robinson said on the bus ride to Team USA’s first game against Croatia, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen had a clear message for how they were supposed to play Kukoc that day.
“As a team, if two of your teammates come to you and say, ‘Let’s teach this guy a lesson.’ Yeah, OK, let’s do that. I got your back,” Robinson said. “(Kukoc) took some lumps that day, but I guarantee it taught him something. When he came into the league, he had to be that much more prepared.”
Robinson and Goff also discussed Robinson’s time at Navy and with the Spurs, Jordan’s meteoric rise, and Robinson’s relationship with Dennis Rodman.