By Andrew Alexander
When asked if he thought this year’s Olympic Men’s Basketball Team could beat his 1992 Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, better known as the Dream Team, all Michael Jordan could do was laugh.
Lately, there’s been a lot of heated debate on the topic. Some say Jordan’s dismissal of the subject was arrogant and egotistical, and that laughing at the remarks was rude. I say, the man is entitled to laugh at whatever he finds amusing.
Some say that there’s a generation gap wedged between those on both sides of the argument. Having grown up idolizing players like Larry Bird, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, and John Stockton, and having witnessed the rise of players like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Kobe Bryant...I’m here to bridge that gap.
Although the 2012 team is stacked with a lot of young, up-and-coming talent, even though the 2012 team has what today’s basketball experts consider the best player in the world in LeBron James, and despite the fact that the 2012 team has a handful of battle-tested Olympians and a great coach in Mike, I still think if you put the two teams head-to-head ten times, the 2012 team might win once...if they’re lucky.
It’s not a knock on this year’s team either. I’m proud of the superstars that have stepped up to represent this great nation. I’m even expecting them to beat the pants off of everyone they play once the games begin, but if those guys really think they can hold a candle to the Dream Team, they need to keep dreaming.
First, lets examine each team’s respective trophy case. The 2012 squad has a total of 45 All-Star appearances, four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, three NBA Finals MVPs, and seven NBA Finals Championship rings. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, not compared to the 1992 team’s robust collection of accolades. The Dream Team boasts 11 Hall of Fame inductees, 117 All-Star selections, 15 NBA MVPs, 11 NBA Finals MVPs, and 23 NBA Finals Championships. Starting to get the picture?
I’m aware that the collection of these numbers came well after Dream Team members retired and left the basketball world to the young bucks, and I know the majority of the players heading to London with hopes of bringing a gold medal back across the pond still have a long way to go before they pass the baton to those that will eventually surpass them, but these guys aren’t even close to being on pace to match the accomplishments of those that represented our country in 1992.
The team we’re sending this year may have James, Durant, and Bryant, but with the exception of those three, none of the other players are even close to good enough to make the Dream Team.
Come on...would you trade away Karl Malone for Andre Iguodala or Charles Barkley for Tyson Chandler? I think not. The depth the Dream Team possessed will never again be matched. The worst player on the team in 1992 was Christian Laettner, and I’m pretty sure Coach K wouldn’t hate having his old Dukie around this year to give the 34-year-old Bryant a breather.
It must be noted that basketball’s world-wide appeal has grown since the early 90s, and international competition has gotten a lot better over the years, but the Dream Team destroyed each and every one of its opponents. On average over their six victories in Barcelona, they won by at least 50 points. We’ll be lucky to see this year’s team put the majority of their opponents away by more than 25. I mean, they only beat Argentina by six last Sunday, but before that they only beat Brazil by 10 and in the preliminaries, and they were playing from behind for a large portion of that game. The Dream Team never trailed anybody.
Some of that has to do with the global quality of game being better, but mostly it boils down to the fact that this year’s team doesn’t have Jordan, or anyone close to being as determined to win and capable of throwing his team on his back.
On top of the Jordan factor, which I could go on and on about, the Dream Team’s big men were far superior to this year’s post players. Yes, Kevin Love is a terrific power forward with a lot of upside and Chandler can play defense, and yes, the 2012 team also presents a lot of matchup problems with guys like James and Durant who can play just about every position on the court. But, if matched up against the Dream Team, those guys would never even get to the rim because Ewing, Barkley, Malone, and Robinson were all excellent shot-blockers and solid in the paint. Before they got to those guys they would’ve had to shake Stockton, Magic Johnson, and Scottie Pippen, none of which were slouches on defense.
Unfortunately, there’s no time machine to take this year’s team back to ‘92. It’s a shame that there isn’t, but if there was, the 2012 squad would be humbled, and we would all be entertained. So let’s stop with the debate. Nothing good can come of it. There will never be another Dream Team, and putting that kind of pressure on the teams we send to the Olympics every four years has the potential to lead to nightmare-ish results.
(This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Independent Appeal or its owner.)