Whilst the USSR ruled over the country of Lithuania, Olympic basketball players were forced to play for the victory of the Union, rather than their home country. Playing for their oppressive rulers was a painful experience, given that they felt as though they were representing the brutalities that were being inflicted on their neighbours. In the 1988 Seoul Olympics, they won the USSR Team a gold medal and Sarunas Marciulionis and Arvydas Sabonis became symbols of the USSR victory in sports. By the time the next Olympic Games came round in 1992, the Soviet Union had fallen and those sportsmen became icons of freedom in the wake of the sudden financial meltdown. Psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead read their story of hardship in a newspaper and vowed to help the new Lithuanian basketball team with their quest to spread hope across their country by funding the team and sending them tie-dye sports kit in Lithuanian colours. The team achieved their dream of beating the Russian team for the bronze medal which became a point in history representing Lithuania's independence.

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