Kobe Bryant, owner of five championship rings, recently went public by claiming that this year’s Olympic team could beat the overly glorified 1992 “Dream Team”. That 1992 team, featuring 11 future Hall of Famers, easily breezed through their competition at Barcelona as they won all eight of their Olympic games by an average margin of 43 points. Many of the players from that legendary team, including Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, countered back not in anger, but in laughter by Kobe’s comments. However, after the laughs were over Jordan went as far as to criticize Kobe’s intellect: “For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he (Kobe Bryant) ever could have done.”
I am in 100 percent agreement with Jordan on this matter. There is no way a team with Tyson Chandler and Blake Griffin as your “big men” could ever stand up to the “Dream Team” with David Robinson and Patrick Ewing in the frontcourt, especially during the prime of their careers. However, I will say that if the US strung together the best US players right now, I think this could turn into an actual debate.
We have to remember that a lot of the world’s current top-tier players are either injured at the moment or have declined to play in this year’s Olympics. Conversely, if we add a Dwight Howard here and a Derrick Rose Kobe’s argument could become a bit more intriguing. The talent in the NBA today is just as high, if not higher, than the talent back in 1992. In the NBA we have 6’8” point guards (Lebron James) and near seven footers raining threes (Kevin Durant and Kevin Love). Also, the athleticism is on a whole new level compared to twenty years ago. I am going to attempt to reconstruct this year’s Olympic team with a team that I feel could have a shot at knocking out the invisible “Dream Team”. Here are some simple rules that are necessary to construct this team:
- Players must be US citizens of course.
- Player age will be determined by their age at the conclusion of the 1992 and 2012 Olympics.
- The 2012 team, like the 1992 team, must consist of one recent college player.
- Players will assume to be injury free.
1992 Olympic Team
|Charles Barkley||Forward||6’6”||250 lb||29|
|Larry Bird||Forward||6’9”||220 lb||35|
|Clyde Drexler||Guard||6’7”||220 lb||30|
|Patrick Ewing||Center||7’0”||240 lb||30|
|Magic Johnson||Guard||6’9”||220 lb||32|
|Michael Jordan||Guard||6’6”||200 lb||29|
|Christian Laettner||Forward||6’11”||235 lb||22|
|Karl Malone||Forward||6’9”||255 lb||29|
|Chris Mullin||Guard/Forward||6’7”||215 lb||29|
|Scottie Pippen||Forward||6’7”||210 lb||26|
|David Robinson||Center||7’1”||235 lb||27|
|John Stockton||Guard||6’1”||175 lb||30|
My 2012 “Dream” Team
|Carmelo Anthony||Forward||6’8”||230 lb||28|
|Kobe Bryant||Guard||6’6”||205 lb||33|
|Andrew Bynum||Center||7’0”||285 lb||24|
|Anthony Davis||Forward/Center||6’10”||220 lb||19|
|Kevin Durant||Forward||6’9”||235 lb||23|
|Dwight Howard||Center||6’11”||265 lb||26|
|Lebron James||Guard/Forward||6’8”||250 lb||27|
|Kevin Love||Forward||6’10”||260 lb||23|
|Chris Paul||Guard||6’0”||175 lb||27|
|Rajon Rondo||Guard||6’1”||185 lb||26|
|Derrick Rose||Guard||6’3”||190 lb||23|
|Dwayne Wade||Guard||6’4”||220 lb||30|
By the Numbers
To start off, my assembled “Dream” Team has two players thirty or older (Bryant and Wade) while the original “Dream” Team has five (Bird, Drexler, Ewing, Johnson, and Stockton). The Dream Team II surrounds themselves with a younger core of players that are just reaching their primes, but the 1992 team has players in the middle of their glory years.
The 1992 team beats the 2012 team in size as their shortest player besides John Stockton is six-foot six inches tall. I stacked my team with a good amount of athletic guards that lack size, but their abilities will make up for their height.
As for the hardware and accolades, the 1992 team has collectively garnered 11 MVP awards, captured 23 NBA titles, been honored to 100 All-NBA teams, and won 14 scoring titles (10 from Jordan alone). The 2012 team, although all the players are still active, have already accumulated 5 MVP awards, 11 NBA titles, 51 All-NBA teams (14 from Bryant), and 7 scoring titles. However, as always numbers alone do not reveal the entire story.
The guards of the ’12 team could outrun the ’92 team’s guards due to their freakish athleticism, but the size and strength of guards such as Johnson, Drexler, and Jordan may be too much for this petite backcourt. Although, I could move James to the one spot to guard Johnson as that would be a very viable matchup. Nevertheless, Paul, Rose, and Rondo would have several issues with covering Johnson.
Johnson, at 6’9”, could outmuscle these smaller point guards. Also, his outstanding court vision and passing abilities would counteract the quickness of these young guards. By adding James into the point guard position he could more than hold his own on transition and in the post.
Fans of the past two generations would of course love to see the match up between Jordan and Bryant. I would have to give the upper hand to Jordan because he’s still in the prime of his career at age twenty-nine and for the fact that he’s the greatest basketball player ever. Wade could also be put on Jordan, but with his deteriorating legs I doubt he would be any more helpful than Bryant would be.
A Stockton-Rondo face off would be appealing as they both play a very similar game. Pass first, score second. Rondo is on his way to becoming one of the best facilitating guards in the league since Stockton. Their games are quite comparable in that they can both dish and swipe the ball at an exceptionally rate. Stockton, of course, is the NBA’s all-time steals leader. The big difference in their game is that Stockton was a tremendous shooter (38.4% career 3P%) and Rondo is a dreadful three-point scorer (24.1%). Although, what Rondo lacks in shooting capabilities he makes up for with his pure athletic ability as he is a far better rebounder and driver than Stockton.
In the end, I would have to give the upper hand to the ’92 team because they have the two of the greatest players ever at the one and two in Johnson and Jordan, respectively. This combination of size and talent is too much for the likes of Paul, Rose, or even Bryant, especially at this time in his career. Kobe pointed out that this ’92 team was not as athletic as the players on his team, but how could he say that when you have Drexler, one of the most outstanding high-flyer of all-time, coming off the bench? His length (6’7”) added with his obvious athleticism would cause mismatches all over the court.
Verdict: ’92 Team
Like Jordan’s initial reaction to Kobe’s comments, the forward topic is laughable, but this time the jokes on Jordan. The ’92 team has a 35-year-old with a bad back and a former Blue Devil who never made it anywhere in the NBA to work with. However, I don’t want to be too disrespectful as they still have the powerful Karl Malone, the second leading scorer in NBA history, and the versatile Scottie Pippen down low. Also, I have to pay my respects to Charles Barkley, the most entertaining sports analyst in the world, the greatest rebounding forward ever not named Dennis Rodman.
Despite, these many talented forwards the ’12 team would wipe the floor with them. Lebron James’s body type has been compared to that of Karl Malone, but also included is the skill set of Magic Johnson. James, widely considered the greatest player in the world, has both the strength and capabilities combined with the pure speed to elude all of the ’92 team’s forwards on his way to the basket. Kevin Durant at 235 lb, viewed as skinny in today’s NBA, could easily post up Bird or Pippen in the paint. Then when matched up with Barkley and Malone, he could drive right by them to the hoop.
The ’92 team may have the greatest pure shooter in NBA history in Larry Bird. Regardless of this fact, when James decides to drive to the basket and is then quickly double teamed he has the court vision to pass it out to either Durant, Love, and Anthony. All three players are lights out from beyond the perimeter.
Although, neither of these players will probably make a substantial impact on the game I would like to point out that Anthony Davis will be twice the player that Christian Laettner was in the NBA. Davis is an outstanding rebounder along with being a once-in-a-generation shot blocker. He will be a major game changer in the NBA, but besides handing out towels he will have minor duties in this game of Goliaths.
Many analysts claim that today’s centers of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum are too soft and small to have even a shot against the old school centers of Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. Experts will also point out that the latter of two are both legitimate seven footers and Dwight Howard is barely “just” 6’11” indicating that the newer era would be pushed around in the paint. However, these remarks lack in proper judgment.
“Evolution of basketball and the athleticism of today would destroy the ’92 team. “Big men” such as David Robinson and Patrick Ewing weighed 235 lbs and 240 lbs, respectively.”
Bynum and Howard are listed at 285 lbs and 265 lbs. They would without doubt toss around these supposed “big men” like they were J.J. Berea. Despite their lack in mass, Ewing and Robinson possess a better touch around the basket and mid-range game then Bynum or Howard. Nevertheless, my centers pure strength and muscle would eventually tire out the two Hall of Famers. Unlike the backcourt which lacked in height, the ’12 frontcourt has the athleticism and speed along with the size to outperform the ’92 team.
Verdict: ’12 Team
This superstar showdown reveals the best of two generations of basketball. The first era brought us legendary matchups, heated rivalries, and the greatest basketball player this game may ever see in Michael Jordan. The latter gave us the rise, the fall, and rebirth of a single dynasty, revolutionary playmakers, and the second coming of Jordan. During this incredible period we have witnessed some of the greatest basketball ever played.
Today’s NBA players are light-years ahead of even players just twenty years ago in physical strength, size, and athleticism, but in the case of ’92 “Dream” Team these listed attributes don’t make a difference in my outcome. The one and only Dream Team is the greatest team ever assembled (besides the fact that they were loaded with talent) for one simple reason: they played like a team. Off the court they were twelve individual players, but when they came to Barcelona they put aside their alter egos, huge endorsements, and maxed out contracts; together they played fluent, fundamental, unselfish basketball. As a unit they epitomized the definition of a team. Every player knew its role. Jordan was the indisputable leader, Johnson the playmaking guard, Ewing and Robinson were the bruisers down low, Bird, at age 35, knew his skills had diminished, but gave whatever he had left. They were all cogs in a system that was worked to perfection.
The ’12 Team may be loaded with more youthful, explosive athletes, but they lack greatly in comparison to Jordan and Co.’s team oriented mindset. Jordan, beside from Bill Russell, is the greatest individual winner basketball has ever seen. His will to win is unfathomable to even his peers. He is an assassin with the basketball, and although Kobe has been respectfully measured up to Jordan’s magnitude and killer instinct there should be no comparison. Jordan is the X-factor, the decisive piece to the puzzle, and the driving force that will lead the greatest team ever assembled pass my own hopes and “dreams”.