This year marked the 20th anniversary of the original “Dream Team” winning gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Now that sports debate is at an all-time high, it didn’t take long for the comparisons to begin. Old versus new, who would win? The speculation if the 92 Dream Team played the 2012 Team USA was fueled when member of 2012 Team USA, Kobe Bryant was asked about his team’s chances against the Dream Team, Bryant responded: “It’d be a tough one, but I think we’d pull it out”. Bryant’s teammate, Lebron James agreed stating: “The ’92 Dream Team paved the way for all of us … We understand what they did for our game, but we also are big-time competitors as well, so if we got the opportunity to play them in a game we feel like we would win, too”. Michael Jordan, who played on the Dream Team with Magic Johnson, strongly disagreed (of course) regarding Bryant’s comments: “For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done,”. Bryant later recanted, saying: “They are a better team. The question was ‘Can we beat them?’ Yes we can. Of course we can.” Johnson was a little blunter with his opinion, saying: “They know we will crush them”.
The 1992 team would probably win easily against the current 2012 Team USA. Although, because of injuries, this team is not the best the NBA has to offer. 2012 Team USA roster; Centers: Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis (Rookie, replacement for Blake Griffin); Forwards: Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Andre Iguodala; Guards: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russel Westbrook, James Harden, this team would probably put up a decent fight against the 92 Dream Team, but they maybe be a bit over matched especially at the center position. The two most prestigious players (at that time) on the Dream Team: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were well past their prime, and nearing permanent retirement due to illness and injury. Johnson’s retirement came during a press conference when he revealed that he had contracted the HIV virus. Bird had just retired, his back was on its last legs (no pun intended)…. Horrible puns aside, the 92 team wasn’t as young and spry as their 2012 counter parts, but some would say the years of experience would serve as a positive that sets the teams apart. At that time, the players on the 92′ team accounted for 13 NBA championships, 6 MVP’s, and 4 Rookie of the Year awards. Michael Jordan was the best and most popular player on the team at the time. For promotion of the Air Jordan sneakers, Nike had his picture on a billboard in Barcelona during the ’92 Olympics. Jordan’s popularity was positively iconic, in contrast to polarization of Lebron James, whose career seems to mimic Michael’s because they received the most notoriety for their respective Olympic teams after winning championships prior to the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, Lebron may still have more cynics and detractors than fans.
The players on the 2012 USA Team combine for 7 titles. Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Tyson Chandler are the only players that have won NBA championships on the 2012 Team USA roster. Kobe, who has five NBA championships, is a lock to make the Basketball Hall of Fame via first-ballot. The 2012 USA Team does not have same magnitude of greatness at this point in time, but an argument can still be made. Except for the suspicious exclusion of Isiah Thomas, and unfortunately, Dominique Wilkins had been recovering from an achilles injury, which I suppose was the reason he also wasn’t invited to play on the Dream Team. Majority of that 92 team were composed of the cream of the crop regarding the NBA, whom all currently reside in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Is this the best of the best regarding the current players in the NBA? Two players from the “Redeem Team” that brought the gold back to the USA in 2008, Dwayne Wade, and Dwight Howard, along with Derrick Rose are not playing due to injuries, with that being said I… yes I, believe the 2012 USA Team (that should be at the London Olympics) would beat the Dream Team. For those of you who are not sure who “SHOULD” be on the 2012 Team USA, here’s the list starting with Centers: Dwight Howard, Andruw Bynum (who wasn’t selected to the team for commitment reasons); Forwards: Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin; Guards: Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant…. Now stop and think for a second, and honestly ask yourself who would win? This is the roster for the Dream Team; Centers: David Robinson, Patrick Ewing; Forwards: Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Christian Laettner (only rookie selected, thus, his career did not meet expectations); Guards: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, Chris Mullin (true position is forward, but was selected as a guard), these players were all in the midst of their prime excluding Magic Johnson, Larry Bird (whom were both past their prime as stated above).
With the Olympics now over, and 2012 Team USA being the victors of the gold medal… they did have their struggles during the first half of games against some opponents, the average margin of victory for 2012 Team USA was 32.1 points. The 1992 Dream Team’s average margin of victory was 43.8 points. With the difference in favor of the Dream Team, you can factor in that the margin regarding the level of competition has narrowed considerably. For example: 25 players from other countries played in the Olympics, and also currently play on NBA teams. The world has now adapted to the play of basketball at a high level, and they are no longer intimidated by the stars of the NBA. This debate will never end because there is no way the two teams will ever be able to compete against each other outside of a video game simulation, but it’s fun to wonder what if, at least for most sports fanatics.
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