Saturday, July 28, 2012
Andrew D. Bernstein/ NBAE/ Getty Images
With the Olympics beginning today I had to reflect upon the recent comments made by a couple of the USA Men's Basketball team members. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have expressed their feelings regarding their ability to "beat" the 1992 Dream Team. The first group of NBA players who were allowed to compete in the Olympics for their country.
This has been an interesting debate recently and has lit a fire in me due to having watched that team religiously having just graduated from High School at that time. The assembly of that team made the summer that much more enjoyable. So it got me thinking about the hypothetical possibility of these two teams matching up and who would ultimately come out as a winner.
To me the answer was a simple one. The Dream Team would easily handle this group of "racehorses" for which Kobe has described them.
He and LeBron James, who also made comments, and are going the back up their team as current members and they should say they can handle the Dream Team. In a way they would be looked at as weak if they didn't show their confidence in their abilities and fellow teammates. You lose serious street cred if you don't pump out your chest and show confidence and no fear.
Kobe is fearless and exudes confidence. His comments and game show that.
The roster on the original Dream Team was stacked with future Hall of Famers of which only one player on that team is not in the Hall (Christian Laettner). The team was lead by arguably the greatest and most competitive player in the history of basketball in Michael Jordan. He started each and every game with Magic Johnson as his backcourt running mate. They were joined by a rotation of Scottie Pippen/Chris Mullin, David Robinson/Patrick Ewing, and Karl Malone/Charles Barkley as the players in the paint. Along with Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, and John Stockton on the bench.
This team was loaded with a massively huge frontcourt group and would easily dominate the post area. The current Olympic team has one center in Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love as a power forward. Ok Chandler was voted as the NBA's defensive player of the year but really that is your answer to Mr. Robinsons Neighborhood and others. Tyson wouldn't even be in Robinson's same state let alone able to stay in his hood. The sheer size and defensive ability of the Dream Team would allow the tenacity of the guards/small forwards to take chances and know they had the rim well defended for help.
The defensive pressure and intensity was much different back in the day than that of today. Today's players like to "get theirs" and almost have defense as an afterthought. This Dream Team would rather decimate and humiliate you and make sure you didn't score than to "get theirs".
I like where LeBron is currently in his career having just hoisted the NBA championship but he still isn't at the level of Jordan especially at that time in Michael's career. LeBron is a freak of nature with his Magic like ability and power game to go with it. But Jordan was at his peak and I will take that over any player at any time in their career. If the game was on the line and I needed someone to take the rock it will ALWAYS, I REPEAT, ALWAYS be Michael Jeffery Jordan.
Jordan is the ultimate competitor and would be licking his chops for this chance!
The current Olympians have some great young talent in LeBron, Keven Durant, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Carmello Anthony, and Russell Westbrook. They are fast and play at a sprinters pace. They also rely a great deal on jump shots. Even a great shooting team has off nights and with little to no interior game it leaves them very vulnerable.
It has even been said by Coach K, who was an assistant coach with the 1992 Dream Team, that there are teams in this Olympic tournament that could beat them. The average margin of victory for the original Dream Team was just shy of 44pts and was only trailing their opponents ONE time in the tournament. This years team just recently won a game by 6pts.
I realize the competition in 1992 was less then what the world has to offer now. The players from their opposing countries in '92 were more star struck and wanting autographs and photos taken with Jordan, Magic, Bird, and company. They were rock stars in every sense of the word and were treated as such.
The countries playing now are well represented with NBA talent, (Tony Parker, Manu Ganobli, Pau/Marc Gasol, Tiago Spliter, Luol Deng, etc) and not worried about playing another "Dream Team" and feel they will have a great chance at success and winning. When you are used to playing against these players on a nightly basis there really is no difference when you see them now other than pride in country. I really don't call this group of USA players a Dream Team because it is assembled this way now regularly. It is old hat. The original was new and en vogue.
T. Parker and M. Gasol are gunning for this "Dream Team".
When asked about the comments made by Kobe, Jordan stated, "to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done... Remember now, they learned from us. We didn't learn from them." The '92 Dream Team were the trend setters and this current team is following in their footsteps.
This match up would be eerily similar to this past NBA Finals where OKC had the fast racehorse team and Miami had the experienced veteran team. It takes teams and players time to develop and be able to have their time.
For the 1992 Dream Team it was their time and a time for the ages. They have since been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 as a team and this doesn't happen often.
I think that speaks for itself.
So if it was possible to match these two very talented teams up for a winner-takes-all-bragging-rights contest I think there really is only one possible outcome.
And it made Charles Barkley LOL at the thought anyone would pick the alternative.
Posted by WGCY Newsroom at 12:09 AM