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Filling the Void: The Dream Team and the 1992 Gold Medal Game

A team of superstars battles a scrappy squad from Croatia – a country fighting for its independence.

Dream Team by Paxton Holley is licensed under CC BY SA-2.0

Filling the Void: The Dream Team and the 1992 Gold Medal Game

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

We’re several months into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling, and remarkable events, as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.

On another note, we at The Turf have always been of the mind that standing up for what is right and standing up in opposition to hate and violence is necessary. In that same breath, we affirm that Black Lives Matter. To donate to this fight, or for resources on how to help the fight against systemic racism in the United States here is a small portion of the many organizations and groups to consider: Black Visions CollectiveLGBTQ Freedom FundThe Okra ProjectReclaim the BlockColor of ChangeShed Light | Spread Light, and Black Lives Matter

Today: The 1992 Dream Team face off against a team fighting for their independence.


The 1992 US Olympic Basketball team was a star-studded collection of some of the greatest NBA talent ever assembled. You’ve got Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan and, of course, the best player on the team… Christian Laettner. Simply put, there has never been another US Olympic Basketball team like this one.

But that’s not the reason I’m writing about this game.

The 1992 Croatian Men’s Basketball team was playing in their first ever Gold medal game. Not because they lacked skills or ability, but because Croatia, the country, had just recently declared their independence from Yugoslavia.

On May 19th, 1991, the Croatian government held an independence referendum. 93% of voters opted for secession from Yugoslavia.

For friends Vlade Divac and Dražen Petrović, that meant the loss of a teammate and the separation of a dominant European team.

Once members of the Yugoslavian National Team, and close friends in real life, Divac and Petrović were now playing on opposite sides of a war. With Croatia’s independence declared and a Civil War being waged on their soil, Petrovic and Croatia’s National Team were not only playing for a medal, but trying to bring attention to the conflict on their home front.

Dražen Petrović and teammate Toni Kukoč helped bring awareness to their country’s fight for freedom. By going toe-to-toe with the greatest players in the game, the world simply had to take notice.

A reflection of values.

Most us us forget who the ’92 Dream Team faced in the Gold Medal game, and that’s unfortunate. Often we as Americans cannot look beyond our status as the best in the world at something. We simply cannot fathom the idea that anyone else knows our struggle, or that anyone can understand our greatness.

In reality, moments like the ’92 Medal Game truly show us just how great of a nation we used to be, and how we’ve lost our way in our own national pride. What even is American Pride anymore? We’ve made patriotism into a team sport, one that often ends in yelling about whether or not one side should wear a mask.

Being proud of a flag and what it represents means nothing without an internal pride for what this country stands for and who this country stands for.

This 4th of July, instead of waving a flag, wave a sign. Instead of lighting a firework, light up an organizations donation page. There are people in the streets fighting for the rights and protections that have been guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence. Lift their voices and fight for independence, fight against injustice, and fight for a United States of America that is truly “a more perfect union.”

This 4th of July, dump some tea in the harbor and go fight for what you believe in.

Editor’s Note: For more information on Vlade Divac and Dražen Petrović, check out Once Brothers, ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on their friendship and its fracture as they began to split up both at home and in the NBA.

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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