Mavericks fans and devotees of recent Eastern European history will want to show up at Dallas’ Magnolia Theatre tomorrow evening. That’s when Mavs’ president Donnie Nelson will be there for a screening of The Other Dream Team, a documentary film about Lithuania’s 1992 Olympic men’s basketball team. So much has been written about USA’s Dream Team, a collection of basketball stars that provided a benchmark for the highest level that the sport can be played at. Relatively little attention has been given to Lithuania’s team, whose players provided the backbone of the Soviet Union’s powerhouse teams, including the one that vanquished USA at the 1988 Olympics and provided the impetus for the Dream Team. By 1992, the USSR had broken up, and Lithuania were playing as a free nation. They got smoked by USA in the semifinal round, but led by the likes of sweet-passing big man Arvydas Sabonis and hot-shooting Sarunas Marciulionis, they still medaled at those games, beating their former Russian oppressors (who were playing as the Commonwealth of Independent States) for the bronze in what must have been a victory to savor. They also won fans like The Grateful Dead, who provided them with their tie-dyed warm-ups with dunking skeletons on them that helped the Lithuanians stand out at those year’s Games.
Donnie Nelson was an assistant coach on that Lithuanian team, and he and his father have extensive ties in that country. (They were working to sign Marciulionis for the Golden State Warriors, who employed them at the time. You can find more background here.) Nelson will be on hand to answer questions about his Cold War hoops experiences and going up against Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, et al. If you’re a student of basketball history, you’ll want to be at the Magnolia tomorrow.