BTP - Grateful Dead Lithuania
We have one of the legendary Grateful Dead Lithuania T-shirts available here! The collaboration between the rock band Grateful Dead and the Lithuanian national basketball team is a very special one. Find out how it came about here!
1996 Grateful Dead Lithuania T-Shirt
When you think of basketball and the 1992 Olympics, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the legendary Dream Team of the USA. With players like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, or Scottie Pippen, this is not surprising. But it wasn't just the USA that was making history at the time, the Lithuanian national basketball team was also in the spotlight at the Olympics...and in colorful tie-dye outfits sponsored by the US rock band the Grateful Dead. But how did this rather untypical collaboration come about?
To answer this question, we must first look back to 1988. There the national basketball team of the Soviet Union won against the team of the USA. At that time, no active NBA professionals played in the national team of the USA. But after this shameful defeat, this was quickly changed in 1992 with the Dream Team. However, what should be mentioned aside from the USA's reaction is that 4 of the 5 starting players of the Soviet Union were from Lithuania. But at that time, the Baltic country was still part of the USSR and thus not allowed to field its own team. However, this was to change in 1990 when Lithuania declared its independence and wanted to enter the 1992 Olympics with its own team. Here, however, a problem arose: the country/team did not have the financial means to do so. This is where the Grateful Dead came in. In fact, the legendary rock band had been involved in charitable causes for years and learned of the Lithuanian team's aspirations. The band was inspired by the story and quickly sponsored the national team with funds and clothing, creating the legendary T-shirts that are now real collector's items.
US Rock Band Grateful Dead
At this point, Lithuania was unstoppable and fought its way into the semifinals where it suddenly found itself facing the tournament favorites, the USA. But despite the loss to the Dream Team, a symbolically more important bronze medal match was to follow, against the team of the former Soviet Union. The relatively small country was able to prevail and put an exclamation point behind its recently won freedom. It is usually the case that teams don their warm-up gear for the medal ceremony, but the Lithuanian team decided to don the outfits sponsored and designed by the Ungrateful Dead as a sign of gratitude. This resulted in many of the iconic images that you see over and over again today.
Lithuania at the Medal Ceremony
A little hint: The history of the team is covered in detail in the documentary film "The Other Dream Team".
The movie poster of "The Other Dream Team" (2012)