August 5, 2012
The first topic of conversation that comes up when talking about the 2012 USA Men’s Basketball team is whether or not they could beat the 1992 Dream Team. All of those talks should come to an end abruptly. Nobody should dare to compare this year’s USA Basketball team to the almighty Dream Team.
While the competition from other countries has definitely improved over the years, no team will ever compare to the squad put together twenty years ago. The Dream Team consisted of eleven Hall of Famers. I repeat 11 Hall of Famers. 11 of the 12 players on that team are enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts as Basketball Hall of Famers and some of the greatest players to ever play the game. Not to mention they also had three Hall of Fame coaches. Led by arguably one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports, Chuck Daly, the Dream Team’s average margin of victory in the Olympics was an astounding 44 points. No team came even close to competing with this juggernaut. They would take the gold medal in Barcelona defeating Croatia in the final.
Meanwhile, this year’s USA team flirted with disaster Saturday against a mediocre Lithuania team barely escaping with a five point win, 99-94. We have seen the greatness of this year’s team as seen in the monumental 83 point win over Nigeria, but we have also seen flaws like we saw Saturday against a Lithuania team only having two current NBA players. While this year’s team is full of NBA All Stars and some of the best players in the league, it just does not have the fire power we saw from the 1992 crew.
The Dream Team had arguably the greatest player in NBA history and six time NBA Champion in Michael Jordan. They were led by arguably the greatest (and tallest) point guard to ever play the game in Magic Johnson. If that is not enough in the backcourt, the Dream Team had guards John Stockton and Clyde Drexler coming off the bench. Not bad having two Hall of Fame players back up the two greatest players at their position. The frontcourt was led by three time NBA Champion and Hall of Famer of course, Larry Bird. Hall of Famer Charles Barkley was the starting power forward with Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing starting at center. Backing them up in the frontcourt, Team USA had Jordan’s Hall of Fame teammate Scottie Pippen at small forward as well as Hall of Famer Chris Mullin. Coming off the bench at power forward was “the Mailman” Karl Malone, (another Hall of Famer) as well as young(at the time) Christian Laettner. The backup center was “the Admiral” David Robinson who was a two time NBA Champion and a Hall of Famer as well. The starting lineup had a combined 14 NBA rings in their career. The Dream Team had a combined 23 NBA Championships when their careers came to an end.
There is no question that this year’s USA Basketball team is full of talent. Led by LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant, this team definitely has a bunch of big name players and NBA All Stars. All Star Chris Paul and five time NBA Champ Kobe Bryant lead the backcourt. All Star Kevin Durant and the newest NBA Champion LeBron James lead the frontcourt with Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler at center. The bench has been led by All Star Carmelo Anthony who has been scoring at will thus far in the Olympics scoring 37 points versus Nigeria which was a record for Olympic play. The bench also consists of All Stars Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook in the backcourt as well as James Harden. The frontcourt guys off the bench consist of Andre Igoudala, Kevin Love, and rookie Anthony Davis. Clearly, this team has a lot of very good players. Their starting lineup has some of the best players right now in James, Durant, and Bryant. The bench has a couple of the best point guards in Deron Williams and rising star Russell Westbrook. They have a solid all around squad that should definitely win the gold medal this year. They are the most talented team in the World without a doubt.
With that being said, there is just no comparison to the Dream Team. Players like Andre Igoudala, James Harden, and Anthony Davis would not even be considered on the Dream team who only had one player who did not make the Hall of Fame. This team has some NBA All Stars and some of the best players in the NBA right now, but they do not have the Championship players that we saw in the Dream Team. There were players on the 1992 squad who went into the Olympics already with Championship hardware. With the exception of Kobe Bryant, the rest of this year’s team has two NBA rings. One from defending Champion LeBron James and one from Tyson Chandler with the Mavericks. 23 total rings tops seven total rings. While this team is younger and in the prime of their careers, it is hard to see this team come close to the amount of rings that the 1992 team got. You also will not see 11 out of 12 of these guys become Hall of Famers. With the exception of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, the rest of the team is nowhere near the level of success that we saw in the NBA careers of the Dream Team.
Yeah, this team is really good. They can win the gold medal and bring some pride to the United States of America. However, the Dream Team was something special. Our country rallied around them. Watching them play was incredible for many. Wherever they went, everybody knew who they were and knew that they would not be beat. The team was just too good for any other country to even make a game out of. So stop the comparisons folks. The 2012 USA Men’s Basketball team is definitely one of the better ones in a long time, but do not dare to compare them to the greatest team ever assembled….the Dream Team.