In the waning years of the Cold War, Americans became more aware of the bad things happening to the good people of the Eastern Bloc, but it wasn’t until the Berlin Wall finally came down that we were able to fully understand what the citizens of the Warsaw Pact had endured. Shining a light on one corner of the former Soviet empire is The Other Dream Team, the story of the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball squad. The Lithuanians were inevitably overshadowed by the U.S. team, which for the first time included NBA superstars Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and . . . Christian Laettner (?) and would go on to win easy gold in Barcelona. But the Lithuanians were no slouches, boasting a lineup that included that country’s first NBA star (Sarunas Marciulionis) and future pro Arvydas Sabonis, players who’d formed the core of the USSR team that won the gold in 1988. Not coincidentally, their defeat of the amateur American team in Seoul led directly to our subsequent all-pro strategy. USA! Director Marius A. Markevicius examines the struggles Lithuanians faced after becoming the first SSR to declare independence while also providing an unvarnished look at the country’s Soviet past. I don’t toss around the expression “feel-good story” often, but after learning how the Grateful Dead came to the strapped team’s rescue by cutting them a check (and providing tie-dyed gear), and then watching Sabonis and company deliver comeuppance to their former rulers on the hardwood, I fully expect The Other Dream Team to join Do You Believe in Miracles? and Undefeated in your inspirational-sports-doc rotation.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 26, 2012