In hindsight, it seems foolhardy that people didn’t take notice of Michael Jordan earlier. He was beating NBA All-Stars as a college player, after all.
Jordan was a college basketball player for coach Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina. He won the NCAA title as a freshman at the university, beating Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas in the final.
It wasn’t to be a one-off, as MJ made an appearance in the Elite Eight the year after that. MJ won all the consensus National College Player of the Year awards in his junior year. This included the John Wooden Award, the Naismith Award, the AP, Oscar Robertson, NABC, and Sporting News Awards.
The crowning moment of MJ’s college career, however, came after he’d officially declared for the draft. Jordan led a team of elite college players to the Olympic gold medal. What was even more impressive was that MJ and co went 8-0 in the run-up to the tournament.
Michael Jordan beat teams of NBA All-Stars with Team USA Basketball
Team USA was still a firm believer in the promotion of college basketball with the Olympics at the time. They had very good reasons for it. The NBA season took a toll on their professional superstars through what could often be a 100-game season.
Besides, their college kids were still putting grown men from other countries to the sword. There was no reason to change what seemed to be working perfectly fine for their Olympics program. And so it transpired that the likes of Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin went to the Olympics in 1984.
The team played a number of exhibition matches against NBA stars in preparation for the free throw. You’d ordinarily think that college kids would lose to pros, but that wasn’t the case this time around.
Team USA Basketball won all 8 of its exhibition games against NBA competition. This included games against teams led by the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas and Robert Parish.
Michael Jordan and Team USA went into the 1984 Olympics as the heavy favorite and easily won the gold medal. Every one of their eight wins was by double digits, their closest game being a 78-67 win over West Germany.