The Cycle | September 28, 2012
>>> imagine having to compete for another country knowing sits 1940 the russians have occupied and destroyed every bit of hope.
>> well, 1992 is widely remembered as the year that the american dream team first ransacked the olympics . it was jordan, pippen, larry and magic. it was the greatest team created but not the most important. that same year a freshly liberated lithuania sent their team to the olympics . it was the ultimate underdog story. even the grateful dead felt the need to get behind it. t they faced the russians in the final game of the tournament playing for the most important bronze medal in the history of olympic basketball . joining us is director, writer and producer of the documentary "the other dream team ," whose film details the history and lasting impact of that '92 team. it opens in new york and l.a. today and is expanding across the country through october. thanks for joining us. first of all, i have so the l , i lot th e '92 lithuania basketball story. i've told it before. set the stage for us here. lithuania got its independence from the soviet union a couple years earlier and the economy was kind of wrecked. what was life like in the early '90s and why did going up against the russians matter so match?
>> you have to back up to the times of iron curtain and they were sub gated by the soviet union in 1940 . they spent 50 years under soviet oppression. when they got their independence in 1990 and had a short time to put this team together, it really meant everything to that country. like you said, the economy was in terrible shape. the russian mafia took over things there. there was just -- it was a terrible, tough time. at the beginning of any independen independence, things get tougher before they get easier. this was a classic case of that. these basketball teams was one of the first inspirations of the new flejingly democratic nation.
>> they played the bronze medal game. in the bronze they played the russians , and they won the game. they showed up to get the medals. you have one right now. the grateful dead colors. i want to play a clip explaining the grateful dead connection to the basketball . let's play that.
>> the grateful dead were big basketball fans.
>> jerry is like we're all about freedom and celebration. basically we want to help you guys. they cut us a big check and sent a box of tie-dye t-shirts with lithuania colors. that's how we entered the olympics .
>> it's amazing.
>> that's the story of that. what i wanted to ask is i think about the soviet union and all the years of the great rivalry with the united states . so much of the talent on the soviet basketball team came from lithuania . when you look at the population of lithuania , a very small part of the soviet union and small country. how did it become for a tiny country such a basketball mecca.
>> it goes back to the 1930s when they had their independence independence. there was a lit wanian american called frank lube infrom los angeles that traveled to lit lithuania to play basketball . then the war started, and obviously everything changed for the country. he exiled and went back to the united states . basketball had caught fire, and the soviet union tried to crush all of the culture, the language, the religion, singing, dancing, anything that was lit wanian, but they couldn't crush basketball . during the darkest times during that 50-year occupation, lit wanians looked up to the athletes. they didn't have lithuania on their chest. they looked to them for inspirgs and it was a source of pride. many sent to siberia set up basketball kouts there. it let them do something they felt was lit wanian and gave them a will to live out there.
>> this is a real deep story and meant a lot to you obviously. is it that is right you're part lit wanian or ultimate underdog story or something else in this for you?
>> i remember --
>> it's his favorite thing.
>> i can remember all the family holiday. my fathers and uncles played basketball in the town park. in the early '90s they wore the lithuan lithuanii lithuaniian tie-dye t-shirts. this summer i'm watching the olympics and the u.s. dream team bowl over everybody. i have the tv on a saturday morning and watching the u.s.