Who is better: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the original Dream Team… (Associated Press and Getty…)
Which was better – the original 1992 Dream Team or the current 2012 model?
It can be argued, but c’mon?
The 1992 Dream Team!
Look, when you can mention a player by his first name or nickname and know who he is and what he has accomplished, that’s saying something.
And the 1992 U.S. men's basketball team had that – Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, The Mailman, Scottie, Mully, Patrick, Clyde the Glide, The Admiral.
The Dream Team of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, John Stockton and Christian Laettner set the standards by which all teams can only hope to be measured by.
Eleven of them are in the Hall of Fame, they won 23 NBA championships, and 10 members of that group were named in 1996 to be among the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
Not only that, the 1992 team had too much size for the 2012 U.S. team. Ewing is 7-0 and Robinson is 7-1, and they would destroy the current undersized team down low.
The 2012 team is wonderfully talented and full of stars, some of whom will be in the Hall of Fame one day. There’s no denying the greatness of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.
And there’s no doubt that Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, James Harden, Andre Iguodala, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis are some of the best basketball players in the world.
Yet, this 2012 team is missing Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin because of various injuries.
But other than Bryant, James and maybe Durant, none of the rest of the current roster would even make the '92 Dream Team. And the way Bryant has performed in London, his playing time would have been limited on the '92 roster -- Bryant would be playing behind M.J.
For the fun of it, let’s look at some of the marquee matchups between the two teams.
Point guards – At 6-8, Johnson towers over the 6-0 Paul. Johnson may not have been the same player after he sat out the 1991-92 season following his announcement that he was HIV-positive, but he still controlled the game.
Shooting guards – M.J. was just 29 during the 1992 Olympics, and he averaged 14.9 points per game. He was one of the best athletes on the Dream Team that was full of athletes. Bryant is almost 34 and has not been the best player on his own Olympic team, averaging 9.4 points on 38.9% shooting.
Small forwards – It would have been fun to see Pippen go at Durant, the three-time NBA scoring champion. But Durant would have had his hands full, too, with the multi-dimensional Pippen.
Power forwards – James and Malone would have been something to see. James, the more athletic, would take Malone outside. But Malone would work on James down low.
Centers – Ewing and Robinson would have handled Chandler, who is in constant foul trouble as it is.
Sixth man – Barkley led the '92 team in scoring, averaging 18 points on a whopping 71.1% shooting. Anthony is averaging 17.4 points on 58.8% shooting, but he wouldn’t have been able to contain Barkley.
The current U.S. team, which plays Australia in the quarterfinals Wednesday, is averaging 117.8 points per game, allowing 79.6 points and winning by 38.2 points. Its closest game was a 99-94 victory over Lithuania.
The original Dream Team averaged 117.3 points per game, allowed 73.5 points and won by an average of 43.8 points at the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Its closest win was by 32 points.
There’s no doubt that the quality of play internationally has improved since the Dream Team played, but that team was an incredible collection of players. The 1992 Dream Team was the first U.S. Olympics to include NBA stars – uh, make that superstars.
The best ever!
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