While 1992's Dream Team featured the 's brightest talents, it took the convincing power of to recruit and .
The Dream Team was the first to feature active NBA players. And although Magic was in early retirement due to his HIV diagnosis, then-NBA commissioner David Stern still placed a call informing Johnson that he had been selected.
With the news of Jordan and Bird not commiting, Magic got to work. He was adamant about playing with both players and made it his mission to make sure it happens.
Magic first reached out to Bird, playing on his competitive nature. It was also going to be the final chapter in their rivalry. Jordan wanted to make sure they were playing for the same team at least once.
Although Bird initially said he was nursing a back injury and was not the athletic forward he once was, Magic promised to make his job easy.
, Johnson asked that he just stand behind the perimeter and knock down shots.
"All you have to do is go stand in the corner or stand at the top of the key. You don’t have to do nothing else. I’m going to get you the ball, all you have to do is shoot it and make it. You can still do that, can’t you?"
Eventually, Bird agreed to join the team, later admitting that he had to be on that team.
Recruiting Bird was a tad easier for Magic, seeing as they had an existing relationship. The same was not the case with Jordan. Even though they were cordial, their relationship was not as solidified, which made getting Jordan a bit difficult.
The legend said to Jordan:
“Listen, man, it’s been on my bucket list to play with you and Larry – and we’re going to have fun being with each other, because we had never really hung out like that.”
Magic also revealed that he already had Bird on board.
“I had to work on him, but finally he said yes.”
Both champions agreed to join Magic in Spain for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and they made history together.
With such heavyweights on the team, everyone was eager to prove themselves, especially Magic who wanted to show everyone he still had it. However, Jordan's competitive edge kicked in, and he wanted the team to know he was going to pull his weight.
The challenge started in training, as that became one of the most competitive periods in the tournament. According to Jordan, Magic wanted to prove he was back.
"He wanted to prove he was back,” Jordan said. “I wanted to prove to him that there was a new kid on the block."
The superstar was right, as Magic confirmed.
“I never wanted them to think like they had to carry me – the other nine games – and so the practices were probably the best basketball I’ve ever played in my life!”
The Dream Team delivered beyond expectations, winning all eight games by incredibly large margins. They closed their campaign with a 117-85 win over Team Croatia – their smallest winning margin in the tournament.