August 13, 2012
USA Basketball went into London this summer trying to win their second consecutive gold medal in Olympic play. With comparisons to the Dream Team circulating, there was a lot of pressure on this year’s team to bring home a gold medal. The red, white, and blue did just that on Sunday defeating Spain 107-100 for the second consecutive time in the Olympic gold medal game.
It was not the prettiest of wins for Team USA who won for the second time by single digits this Olympics. While the margin of victory comes nowhere close to what the Dream Team did in 1992, the competition overseas has increased dramatically since then. We are seeing so many NBA players on these opposing teams that just were not there twenty years ago. For example, Spain had six players on their roster who are currently in the NBA and two players who played in the NBA. That is eight NBA players on one roster with NBA experience on their resume. Three of those players are NBA stars right now in Pau and Marc Gasol as well as Serge Ibaka. The Gasol brothers have both played in an All Star game while Ibaka is well on his way to being in one. That frontline is a formidable one and might just be better than the big men that the United States brought to the Olympics. This year’s USA squad faced four times as many NBA players as the Dream Team faced in 1992.
In a series, the Dream team would beat the 2012 USA squad, but it would be fairly close. The rosters just are not comparable, but there is no question the talent is there with rising superstars Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Both are on their way to special Hall of Fame careers. LeBron joins special company as him and Michael Jordan are the only players to win an NBA MVP, an NBA Championship, and a gold medal in the same year. The year King James has had is extraordinary and one that has gained him the respect of NBA fans for finally putting some hardware on his resume after making “the decision”. For Kobe Bryant, it had to be a bittersweet gold. It could be the last Olympics we see Bryant play in. Turning 34 this month, Kobe has just a couple of years remaining before his Hall of Fame career is over.
Also of note, this team did not have guard Derrick Rose or center Dwight Howard due to injury. The addition of those two superstars to this team make the Dream Team comparison a little more interesting. The major difference between the two teams comes in the frontcourt where the Dream Team had star big men such as Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Karl Malone, and Patrick Ewing. Without Howard, this USA team did not have as nearly as formidable of a front line with Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler as well as rookie Anthony Davis. Those three names belong nowhere near those of Hall of Famers Barkley, Robinson, Malone and Ewing.
Now that the gold medal has been won, the comparisons are not as ridiculous as they were prior to the start of the 2012 Olympics. Comparing the two is not as crazy as it once sounded weeks ago. This year’s team had an average margin of victory of 32 points over their opponents. The Dream Team defeated its opponents by an average of 44 points. The 32 point margin is a little flawed considering they beat Nigeria by 83 making that average winning margin grow, but nonetheless it was a very impressive run. For the 2012 USA Basketball team, the dreams came true, but the dreams of Dream Team dominance were not fulfilled. While the 1992 juggernaut still stands tall, it still was a memorable gold in London for the greatest country in the world.