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Jamal Mashburn on playing against 1992 Dream Team: ‘That was actually the week that propelled me to leave (college) early in the NBA Draft’

Former Kentucky forward Jamal Mashburn said the short time he spent with the 1992 United States Development Team changed his life forever, especially after he and seven other collegian players defeated the Dream Team in a scrimmage in preparation for that summer’s Barcelona Olympics.

“That was actually the week that propelled me to leave early in the NBA Draft,” Mashburn told The Jim Rome Show. “There was so much confidence coming out of that, especially after beating them that first day and then obviously the rest of the week they kicked our butts. It was just a great experience to just spend time with those guys off the court and then you come out of that realizing that you have the ability to play at that level so your confidence is running high. When I got back to school to take some summer school classes, Coach (Rick) Pitino called me into his office and he said ‘Jamal this is going to be your last year here. So we’re going to announce before your junior year that you are turning pro.’ I said well what happened? He said ‘you did really well there they said, and you’re not going to be no less than the fourth overall pick’.’”

Mashburn was upset at first that college players outside of one long time nemesis wouldn’t be able to represent the country in the Olympics any more, but understood the impact of allowing the pros to play.

“Initially I was disappointed that I could not go play in the Olympic games because that was one of my goals,” said Mashburn. “Obviously they chose the right team in the Dream Team because it elevated basketball globally, so it was a great experience, but I could say this our kids on the college select team we actually played more than Christian Laettner, he got no burn when he was playing out there.”

Mashburn remembers how quickly the Dream Team could turn it on especially if the college kids got a little cocky.

“One interesting thing that I noticed was not only the skill level but the intensity, they could raise it to a whole different level if they wanted too,” said Mashburn. “I remember Rodney Rogers was on our team and he made a comment to Larry Bird one day, he jokingly said ‘Yeah Larry you haven’t hit a jump shot since 1988′ and Larry Bird was dealing with back issues, so we always saw Larry Bird laying on the floor and different things like that, so Magic Johnson over heard that from Rodney Rogers and, the next day at practice, Magic Johnson made it a point to give the ball to Larry Bird about 10 times in a row, and Larry Bird must have went 9 for 10 on every different shot and Rodney Rogers had nothing to say the whole entire rest of the week. You could see how the level of skill was different and how much we had to learn.”

Mashburn says it was obvious to everyone who the best basketball player was there.

“I noticed was how great Michael Jordan was,” said Mashburn. “If you didn’t know anything about basketball, you sat there and watched that bald headed black guy and said listen ‘he’s the best player out there amongst all of these Hall of Famers’ it was just undeniable the level of the gap that was there.”

Mashburn says Sir Charles was also very impressive on and off the court.

“The other person that really struck me as being the second best player was Charles Barkley, by far the second best player, his body, his ability to move, rebound, his toughness,” said Mashburn. “Then also you actually saw Charles Barkley off the court, because when the media came in the first three people they’d gravitate to would be Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the next person they’d go to for quotes and he’d have a bunch of people around him was Charles Barkley.”

  • Jamal Mashburn
  • Mar 18th 2015

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