The Other Dream Team

Synopsis: The incredible story of the 1992 Lithuanian basketball team, whose athletes struggled under Soviet rule, became symbols of Lithuania's independence movement, and - with help from the Grateful Dead - triumphed at the Barcelona Olympics.
Production: The Film Arcade
  3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
89 min

Welcome back

to this eighth Olympic meeting

between the USA and USSR.

Last time they played

was 16 years ago in Munich.

The only time the American team

has ever lost an Olympic basketball game.

The Soviet Union, that was the team

we wanted to play and beat the worst.

They had size, they had height...

7'4" Sabonis.

They were menacing.

In those old days, if you were willing

to paint the world in a cartoon,

and we always were,

the Soviets were the grim,

unsmiling, unfeeling,


The "other. " The other guys.

I remember the backdrop

of the Cuban missile crisis

and all those things.

The ultimate war was always going to

be with the Soviet Union.

What a rejection by Robinson.

As he says "No, no,"

"Nyet, nyet" to Marciulionis.

The perception of Russian athletes

was that they trained harder

than anyone else in the world.

How we viewed them,

that's just what they were born to do.

They were trained since they could walk,

probably, to play basketball.

I must break you.

Right into Volkov, who takes it away.

John Thompson said that

the old Lenin prophecy was coming true.

The U.S. Is not playing well.

"The capitalists will sell us the rope

with which we'll hang them. "

It's a 2-on-1 break.


And that will do it for the Soviets.

The United States goes home stunned.


Imagine having to compete

for another country

at the prime of their life

when they have everything going for them,

and knowing full well that since 1940

the Russians have occupied and oppressed

and just destroyed every bit of hope

that an entire country, their homeland,

had ever even thought about.

The dream of freedom.

The dream of independence.

The dream of being able

to chart your own destiny

and make your own choice tomorrow,

yeah, that was the bigger dream.

It was about a 20-year period,

the '20s and '30s,

where the country had its independence.

And in two of those years, in the late '30s,

they actually won as Lithuania.

As an independent state, they actually won

European basketball titles.

There was a guy, a Lithuanian-American

guy named Frank Lubin

who lived in LA, who came back to Lithuania

to help them win those titles.

Those European championships

in the late '30s.

And to this day in Lithuania,

if you're talking about a leviathan,

people will refer to a "Lubinas. "

That's how much

in the Lithuanian imagination

this guy remains to this day.

Almost every kid

was just trying, how to get into the team.

How to play it.

Now basketball is still today number one

and I believe it's going

to stay for a long time.

An iron curtain has descended

across the continent.

Lithuania and the Baltic states in general

were the ultimate chess piece

played between

the two greatest totalitarian

forces the world has ever known,

Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

I was 17 years of age

when I was... When I left Lithuania.

There was a mass retreat.

People or whoever could,

ran away by all kinds of means.

Walking, using the trains.

It was a massive, massive chaos.

The amount of deportation

and gratuitous punishment

and torture meted out,

especially during the Stalinist era,

boggles the mind.

An amazing teenage athlete.

A guy who ran and jumped

in a way that shouldn't

be possible for someone that size.

He was a 7'3" version of Larry Bird.

He could do everything.

He could run, he could jump,

he could rebound,

he could block shots, he could pass,

he could think, he could lead the team.

Sarunas' story

is nothing short of miraculous.

He left home at an early age,

seeking his basketball dream.

He went from Kaunas to Vilnius

with basically,

his mom and dad gave him

a bag full of apples.

The difference in the lives

of Eastern European athletes at that time

and the lives of Western athletes

in the same sports...

Shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes.

You sure it's not the shoes?

...were graphic.

The kind of social circumstance

in which somebody like

Sarunas Marciulionis grew up,

we can't really fathom it

in the United States.

You're talking about breadlines.

You're talking about people competing

shoulder to shoulder for a potato.

You know there's a 10-year delay

in the Soviet Union

of delivery of an automobile.

This man, he laid down

his money, and then the fella,

he was, that was in charge said to him,

"Okay, come back in 10 years

and get your car. "

And he said, "Morning or afternoon?"

And the fella behind the counter said,

"Well, 10 years from now,

what difference does it make?"

And he said, "Well, the plumber's coming

in the morning. "

Lmagine how difficult it was

for Sarunas Marciulionis

when he had to stand up there

and read a speech

that somebody else had written for him.

A speech that contained lies, mistruths,

and just absolute nonsense.

They didn't have the freedoms.

They did have to say often

where they were going out.

They had bed checks.

They were watched, obviously.

Americans love a winner.

And the survival of the fittest.

Lithuania is an example of what happens

when a small country

is caught between big powers.

It is a lesson on how people struggle

to preserve their national identity,

their culture and language.

That has been Lithuania's history

and it appears to be its destiny.

A popular tradition today is basketball.

It is sport number one in Lithuania.

And when a local team

plays visiting Russians,

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