Bobby Hurley talks beating Dream Team, watching ‘The Last Dance’
In the summer of 1992, the Dream Team could not lose.
Except one scrimmage they played against a group of college players that included Bobby Hurley.
On Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta during Legends Week, the current Arizona State head coach and former Duke basketball player recalled the game in which he helped beat what is widely regarded as the best basketball team ever assembled.
“I remember driving to the basket and laying the ball in, and we went up 12 and there were like four minutes left in half,” Hurley said. “(Head coach) Chuck Daly called a timeout. And Magic Johnson was yelling at my former teammate Christian Laettner. It was really crazy, a really crazy feeling.”
The college team itself had a number of future NBA stars. The team was made up of Chris Webber, Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway, Allan Houston, Jamal Mashburn, Eric Montross, Rodney Rogers and Hurley.
Even with all those recognizable names, they were still in college. The closest player to them on the Dream Team was Laettner, who had been named the College Player of the Year that NCAA season – and he’s the only one from that Olympic squad who is not in the Hall of Fame.
So the college athletes trained. Hard.
“For weeks I trained like I was getting ready to go play in the Final Four,” Hurley said. “As an athlete you know when you’re going against this level of players, Hall of Fame players, that there’s a high probability you’re going to get embarrassed…
“I was a motivated a little bit out of fear for what might happen if I wasn’t ready … I was in the best shape of my life.”
They pulled up to the University of California San Diego basketball court in a school bus. The Dream Team arrived in a luxury bus with hundreds of adoring fans waiting.
The college team watched the Dream Team practice for an hour, and Hurley recalls watching in awe.
“It was like precision out there: The ball wasn’t hitting the ground, they were scoring, they were talking,” Hurley said. “They didn’t appear to be like a group that was satisfied or going to ease their way into anything. So my fear was even elevated more.”
All that – and then the college team got to warm up. For a couple minutes.
“We had like two minutes to stretch and take some layups and then we had to play the Dream Team,” Hurley said.
Yet things went well for the college athletes. They won by eight points, which the Los Angeles Times reported after the game, though the final score was not revealed. An NBA documentary appeared to reveal that the final score was 62-54.
“Once you started playing though it was like any game, except you had like a ton of respect obviously but things were going our way throughout the scrimmage,” Hurley said.
The next scrimmage went different. The Dream Team crushed the college players – “We pretty much beat them by 100,” Charles Barkley said in the NBA documentary – and then went on to go undefeated in the Olympics with an average margin of victory of 43.75 points.
Now, Hurley looks back on that time while he watched “The Last Dance” documentary with his 16-year-old son.
“Every time Jordan, you know, he’ll go in there and do something. I’ll look at (my son) and he’ll look at me, because he’s grown up with LeBron and Kobe,” Hurley said. “I don’t know if he’s had a chance to even see some of the stuff that Jordan’s capable of doing. We have that little look, that exchange, like ‘Yeah — he’s real.’”