Was the Dream Team of the 1992 Olympics really the best basketball team ever assembled?
After watching NBA TV’s documentary, The Dream Team, about the journey of the 12 superstars who took home the gold medal for the U.S. in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, many viewers (including myself) wondered what a hypothetical matchup between the original Dream Team and the players who will take the court in London for the 2012 Olympics would look like. Could a squad led by LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant dethrone the stars from 20 years ago? Or would Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, and company prove that no one could stop them? Now that the NBA Finals are over and the Olympics are just around the corner, the debate has taken center stage. However, after careful thought and consideration, this one-man panel is convinced that the original Dream Team of 1992 would prevail against today’s superstars. Here are four reasons why:
After watching NBA TV’s documentary, it became clear that the most amazing aspect of the team was the passion that each player had for winning. From Jordan all the way down to 12th man Christian Laettner, who had yet to play a minute in the NBA, it was apparent that each player would do whatever it took to win and show that he was the best player on the court. Jordan, fresh off his first NBA championship, was out to prove that he was the new king of the NBA. Charles Barkley and Karl Malone competed everyday in practice for the title of “Best Power Forward Alive.” Patrick Ewing and David Robinson battled for the starting center job. The list goes on. No one in the NBA today plays with the sense of pride and urgency that these stars played with. The NBA today is full superstars who adore joking around after games and teaming up with each other to form mega-teams. They make toasts at one another’s weddings and crack jokes on Twitter. They would have no chance at matching the Dream Team’s intensity. It is that sense of pride and competition that separates the Dream Team from any other team the world has witnessed.
Today’s stars would have no answer for the Dream Team’s size and skill in the paint. Between Ewing, Robinson, Malone, Barkley, and Larry Bird, the Dream Team would obliterate its opponents down low. The big-man candidates for this year’s squad include Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, and Chris Bosh. Great players? Sure. Capable of shutting down hall-of-fame legends in the post? Dubious.
The Dream Team proved to be a perfect blend of players in different stages of their careers. Jordan had just entered the prime of his career. Magic and Bird, both having played the final season of their careers, provided a steady dose of veteren leadership. Scottie Pippen, Barkley, Ewing, Malone, John Stockton, and Robinson were amidst the peak of their games. Sharpshooter Chris Mullin was available to spot up from three-point territory whenever necessary. Everyone’s game seemed to mesh because each player’s role was clear. Everyone knew what was expected of them. Defining roles on the 2012 team may be more difficult. Will it be LeBron, Kobe, or Durant carrying the load offensively? Who will log the most minutes at point guard? I’m not suggesting that the 2012 team will have difficulties playing together; in fact, they may very well be considered the second best basketball team of all time. The Dream Team’s chemistry, however, was simply astonishing for a team loaded with future Hall-of-Famers.
4. Michael Jordan
In a close game down the stretch, I’ll take the team with MJ to win. Wouldn't you?