Lithuania withdrew from the 1992 Olympics due to the lack of money after the fall of the USSR. The Grateful Dead agreed to fund transportation costs for the basketball team along with Grateful Dead designs for the team’s jerseys and shorts. They went on to win the Bronze.

Grateful Dead

New York artist Greg Speirs wearing the “Skully” tie-dyed T-shirt which he designed and became a symbol of Lithuanian basketball

After Lithuania gained its independence from the USSR, the country announced its withdrawal from the 1992 Olympics due to the lack of any money to sponsor participants. But NBA star Šarūnas Marčiulionis, a native Lithuanian basketball star, wanted to help his native team to compete. His efforts resulted in a call from representatives of the Grateful Dead who set up a meeting with the band members. The band agreed to fund transportation costs for the team (about five thousand dollars) along with Grateful Dead designs for the team’s jerseys and shorts. The Lithuanian basketball team won the bronze medal and… Continue Reading (12 minute read)

12 thoughts on “Lithuania withdrew from the 1992 Olympics due to the lack of money after the fall of the USSR. The Grateful Dead agreed to fund transportation costs for the basketball team along with Grateful Dead designs for the team’s jerseys and shorts. They went on to win the Bronze.”

  1. Boring-Pudding

    My favorite side note to this: they had become a fan favorite, especially after beating the Russian team. A proper sponsor got involved and gave them new equipment for the medal stand. The Lithuanian team decided it would be better to honor the band and turn down more money because the band believed in them from the start.

  2. MeatforMoolah

    I remember that. I was 9/10. Just old enough to associate the tie-dye with the hippies and then… umm. Eastern European basketball? The only reason I knew who Grateful Dead was is there’s a classic story of my dad winning tickets to one of their concerts off the radio. (He wouldn’t be caught dead at a show) Comes home to tell my teenage siblings he won concert tickets for “Glad to Be Dead”. Took them 10 minutes to figure out it was the Grateful Dead. Kids went, parents stay home listening to the Oak Ridge Boys.

  3. SuperJew113

    That’s really like the silver. Gold was 1992 us mens basketball dreamteam. One of the most amazing collections of sporting talent in all sports history. Bronze for a small baltic state is impressive in light of that.

  4. sternje

    Strange trip that must have been.

  5. matt_mv

    I bought a Skully t-shirt that the Grateful Dead sold to raise funds in 1992 and still have it. Šarūnas Marčiulionis (Rooney) was a very popular player for the Golden State Warriors, so there was a lot of support from fans.

    Also went to a Greatful Dead concert once. They played a great show and from people I’ve talked to it sounds like they played a great show most nights.

  6. Eroe777

    I remember that. Those tie dye uniforms are the greatest thing ever to Grace the field of any Olympic competition.

  7. Xorphorilius

    The equivalent of Uncle Jerry blessing an entire country with a helpful award.

  8. skyboysky

    I actually have one of the original T-shirts designed by the Grateful Dead for the team…. never worn. Anyone interested in purchasing it?

    Just DM me. Can add photos later 🙂

  9. LendMeARizla

    This story requires a little more backstory for context, for those less familiar with communism and the appalling history of the USSR:

    “When Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union divided Eastern Europe with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Lithuania and other Baltic states became part of Russia. Immediately, the Soviets began their oppression by conducting mass deportations.

    Over 7 years, 130,000 people including women and children were sent to labor camps. Nearly 30,000 of those people died due to poor living conditions. Those deportations did not include another 150,000 political prisoners sent to Gulags.

    When the Soviets won the 1988 gold medal in men’s basketball, four of the five starters were Lithuanian. They were forced to stand and honor the flag of the country that systematically killed their countrymen and women by the thousands.”

    Bring able to have their OWN national team in the 92 Olympics was a very, VERY big deal to a country like Lithuania who just had been liberated from decades of destructive communist regime that literally killed members of their own families.

  10. corkyvonluxembourg

    That’s amazing!

Leave a Comment