The Other Dream Team Trailer: We Will Get By, We Will Survive
The Games of the XXV Olympiad hosted by Barcelona, Spain, in 1992 is looked at as the first Olympics in which professional athletes were allowed to compete. The men’s basketball tournament saw Team USA receive the majority of the spotlight with the showcasing of their almighty NBA All-Star laden roster dubbed, “The Dream Team.” But it was also the first Olympics in more than 50 years to have a basketball team representing the former Soviet republic turned newly independent county of Lithuania. For half a century, Lithuanian athletes were forced to play for Team CCCP — or not at all. The Soviet basketball program heavily benefited from the involuntary influx of Lithuanian talent. The tiny Baltic nation had taken quite a shine to the sport of basketball even in the days before Soviet occupation. So much so that it had become woven into the country’s identity as much as hockey is to Canada, soccer to Brazil or baseball to Cuba. When the Soviet Union finally dissolved and Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, the national team was re-established. It was partially done for principle but also as a symbol of hope and unity for its people. Their goal was to make their global presence known and to leave a positive mark at the Olympics two years later.
And this is where the sports documentary The Other Dream Team hopes to take us. It is a retrospect following of the team not only on their 1992 Olympic adventures but also its influence and symbolism beyond the hardwood. It features a Who’s Who of basketball personalities all taking part in the telling of this tale of determination. For the people of Lithuania, the dream was just to have a team compete in the first place. Where the team went and what they accomplished from there became the real dream come true.
So while the now professional Team USA was getting all the publicity as they destroyed everyone they faced on a rather pedestrian trip to win gold, it was Team Lithuania that was getting the darling status with their ragamuffin origins, non-existent funding and even their tie-dyed t-shirts and shorts donated by the Grateful Dead themselves. For the newly formed basketball team, it wasn’t about winning a gold medal; it was about taking back their country. And nothing personified their drive more so than the Bronze Medal Game when they played against former teammates, Russia (participating for this Olympics under the Unified Team flag). If ever there were a team they wanted to play their best against, Russia would be that team far more than even the USA. It wasn’t just for pride or honor, but rather for the statement through sport that they were ready to be their own free people again.
You do not have to be a basketball fan to truly appreciate the struggles of the little team that could. It’s Hoosiers on a world stage. The underdog journey of determined countrymen offers a more compelling story than that other one of a bored juggernaut steamrolling opponents without breaking a sweat. The Other Dream Team was written and produced by Jon Weinbach and Marius Markevicius. Weinbach has already contributed to ESPN’s “30 for 30” sports documentary series episode “Straight Outta LA”. In addition, Markevicius also directed. It will have a limited release in theaters September 28th.
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