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The Olympics History: Tie Dyes, Grateful Dead and a Bronze – The Story of the 1992 Lithuanian Basketball Team

In Friends, Phoebe Buffay rocks a very odd-ish Tie Dye T-Shirt. In 2010s, We also saw Jonah Hill wearing the same outfit as like may fans at the Grateful Dead Concerts. The origin of this Tie-Dyed Tshirts dates back to the 1992 Summer Olympics and The Lithuanian Basketball Team.

In 1991, Lithuania and several other small nations broke free of Soviet Union and made independent countries. The country was in deep economic crises during the time with rising unemployment and difficult living conditions. The Lithuanian Basketball team had little money allocated to them for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The team had no chance of making it to the Olympics.

In 1988, After a gold for the Soviet Union Basketball Team, Players were allowed to appear for Western Teams or Franchises. Subsequently, Šarūnas Marčiulionis became the first Soviet Union Player to join the NBA. Marčiulionis introduced the Euro Step move and paved way for more Europeans in the league. Now, Onto how Grateful Dead ties in here? As we already, The Lithuanian Basketball Team had no hopes and struggled for the money.

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Marčiulionis was leading the efforts to get money for their partcipation in the Qualifiers. During his US Tenure with the Golden Warriors, Marčiulionis had an oppurtunity to meet the members of the Grateful Dead back stage.

After the concert and night, The Lithuanian handed McNally a letter, the band publicist, asking whether the Grateful Dead’s non-profit, The Rex Foundation, would consider donating. Marčiulionis on the occasion justified his actions to McNally by saying, “They’re free-minded people. We had just become a free country. There was a freedom connection. Maybe they would catch that feeling for a new country that wanted to build a new history and a basketball history?

McNally handed this letter to an avid fan of basketball affliated with the band – late Laurence “Ramrod” Shurtliff. There started the collaboration. From a $5,000 check and the publicity helped the team to reach Barcelona in 1992. And they arrived in style.

The Lithuanian Basketball Team wore this exotic costume – unique as hell. Designed by rtist Greg Speirs created the iconic Slam-Dunking Skeleton on tie-dye shirts were born.  The tie-dyes were made in the colors of the Lithuanian flag. The skeleton slam-dunking a basketball symbolized a phoenix rising from the ashes, according to the artist who created it.

The Lithuanians stood out. However, are they good? The questions remained? The Lithuanians finished second in their group behind CIS (Comprised of non Baltic former USSR Nations) and moved to QFs. In the QFs, they faced Brazil. The 1992 USA Dream Team were next. The SFs had the biggest names in basketball then – USA, CIS, and Croatia.

The Lithuanians didn’t think they will defeat the USA Dream Team. And they didn’t. In the Bronze Medal Match, playing against ex-teammates, the Lithuanians came out successful with four points more than the CIS Team. When the players hoped on the platform, The World cheered on fof the underdogs – who won in the face of adversity.

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Mohammed Bazim
Mohammed Bazimhttp://thesportslite.com
Mohammed Bazim S is a final-year Journalism student with a deep passion for sports reporting. At the age of 19, he is already making strides towards his dream of becoming a paddock reporter and rinkside correspondent. With a particular love for ice hockey and Formula 1, Mohammed aspires to capture the excitement of these sports through immersive reporting. His enthusiasm, coupled with his dedication to honing his skills, sets him on a path towards bringing the thrilling world of sports to life for fans worldwide.

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