Muggsy Bogues remembers the 1986 World Cup against Arvydas Sabonis and Drazen Petrovic

Before Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues became a Charlotte fan, and soon children all over the world in the early 1990s, Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues had already had some amazing moments before he even arrived in the NBA.

For four years, he made Wake Forest happy after managing an incredible season without the slightest defeat with his Dunbar high school. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, he will choose to go into exile further south, in North Carolina, to rub shoulders with the ACC conference, one of the highest in the country.

Formidable ACC conference

“It was cool. For me, it was the toughest conference in terms of competition.” explains Muggsy Bogues in Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s podcast, Up The Smoke. “We had to fight with a Mark Price [de Georgia Tech] one night, saw Kenny Smith [de North Carolina] another, then Spud Webb and Nate McMillan [de NC State]. And Johnny Dawkins [de Duke]. The ACC was very talented. And here I’m just talking about the leaders. On the back player were Michael Jordan, Len Bias and Adrian Branch [de Maryland]. There was also Brad Daugherty [chez les intérieurs, à North Carolina]. This conference was very important and it was essential for me because I absolutely wanted to gain recognition. »

In 1986, the summer before his final year at university (where he will shoot 15 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals), Muggsy Bogues will be called up to take part in the World Cup, which takes place in Spain. Despite a defeat during the tournament, against Argentina, the American team led by Lute Olson, the legendary coach of Arizona, will be able to win the gold medal. To the USSR by a certain Arvydas Sabonis …

“We were the last team of college players to be sent to competition and take home the gold medal. After us was Dream Team in 1992 because David [Robinson] and the others lost in 1988 [aux JO de Séoul]. It was a big experience. We played against the USSR team with the real Arvydas Sabonis at the time, but there was also Drazen Petrovic [avec la Yougoslavie]. At the time, they were considered pro players, so it was good for us college players to play against them. And then, with the cup in my hands at the very top of the podium, it was a completely surreal moment for me. »

A gold medal despite Petrovic and Sabonis

At the age of 21, the young Arvydas Sabonis is the Soviet basketball club. The Baltic giant is playing for his club Zalgiris Kaunas and he already knows how to do everything. With 87-85 in the world final, including 16 points (4/7 on shots) for Sabas alone, the ax came very close for the American troops … And it fell in 1988!

“Sabonis was MJ level in Europe. He had that level of talent and that level of recognition. He was a focal point who knew everything he could deliver, he could shoot, he could play with his back to the basket as well as facing the basket. We had never seen that. Not in the US, not anywhere! »

Not unlucky to fall against Oscar Schmidt’s Brazil in the semifinals, the United States had the opportunity to play against Yugoslavia, earlier in the tournament, in the second group game. Then it was an opportunity to meet one of the great men of the future. An unforgettable meeting for Muggsy Bogues, who made a name for himself on the international stage by keeping Mozart from Yugoslav basketball on just 12 points.

“People can not remember how good Drazen Petrovic was. I was so lucky to be able to play him when he played for Yugoslavia at the time. And I was so lucky to be able to turn it off. He had an average of 37-40 points before he met our team [26,8 points pour être exact, ndlr]. Kenny Smith was supposed to take care of him in defense, but I visited him the day before the match to ask him if he wanted me to start defending on Petrovic. If he started getting success and scoring the way he wanted, then I would have given my place to him. But Kenny never had to defend himself against him! He finished 12 points against us. »

Bogues-Petrovic duel

Bonus: USA – USSR final in its entirety

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