The “Real” Dream Team vs. Olympic 2012 Team

By on July 15, 2012

Lebron goes for gold in London (photo by PR Photo)

Ever since the USA Olympic Basketball Team started using NBA players in 1992, the Olympic Team has won every gold medal except in 2004 (bronze). The dominance of the early days with NBA players had a lot to do with the lack of potent foreign teams. As the world has caught up to the USA National teams, the 40 point margins of victories have disappeared and the luster of the Dream Team has faded.

What does this mean? Are the Olympic Teams getting weaker or is the rest of the world that much better? I’d say a little of both, but mostly a drop off from the sheer dominance of the original Dream Team.

Kobe Bryant said he thinks his 2012 team would beat the Dream Team, which brings up that question: how does this team stack up against the Dream Team? Of course, this scenario could never happen, but it would be awesome if it could. Kobe against MJ. Magic against Lebron. The matchups would be amazing. If it could happen, how would the 2012 team matchup against the Dream Team?

The Dream Team would win. I think this 2012 team might be the best team since the ’92 Dream Team, but you can’t be impressed just because this team is the most recent you’ve seen. This 2012 team is the best in the world, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t all time great.

I was born in 1992, a couple weeks after the Olympics ended, so you may wonder what I know about the Dream Team. I know basketball history and know the incredible talent on that team. Kobe said that team was old and out of their prime: false. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were each at the end of their careers. But the two most talented guys on the team, Michael Jordan and Dream Team leading scorer Charles Barkley, were each right around 29 during the Olympics. The average age of that team is around 5 years older than this team, but age isn’t an inherently bad thing. Most of these players were in the prime of their career, or very close to it.

The 2012 team has the advantage with athleticism, partly because of age. However, the huge matchup problem comes from the height of the Dream Team. With no Chris Bosh or Dwight Howard, the 2012 team would be looking up at the Dream Team. Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and David Robinson were the best three centers in the game and in today’s NBA most teams don’t have a true center. Couple that with the fact those guys had a competent face-up game, as well, spells for matchup nightmares for the 2012 team to deal with.

The point guard play of the 2012 team is better. I’ll take Chris Paul over John Stockton simply for speed and defense. Stockton was the only true point guard on the team because the Dream Team had six other guys who could run the offense with Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Chris Mullin and Charles Barkley. Lebron James may be stronger than those guys and a step quicker, but I’ll take six guard/forwards with that kind of ability.

Jordan would defend Kobe well and Pippen would shut down Lebron and vice versa (two of the best on-ball defenders against two of the best of this era). But who stops Barkley? The “Round Mound of Rebound” (Sir Charles, if you will) led the Dream Team in scoring with a little more than 16 points per game. His ability to have incredible positioning for posting up and grabbing rebounds coupled with his unique quickness for his size and his outside shot made Barkley a beast. Because he’s picked up so much weight and turned into the lovable goof analyst, we forget just how dominant a player he was. Barkley may have been the second greatest player of the ‘90s behind Michael Jordan.

This team is full of All-Stars, but the Dream Team was full of Hall of Famers: 11 out of the 12 Dream Team players, to be exact (and Christian Laettner is a College Basketball Hall of Famer). This game between the Dream Team and 2012 USA National Team would be a good game. I’d take the Dream Team by ten because the x-factor is the competitiveness of the Dream Team. It’s like if you try to play a game of one-on-one with your father (while you both are relatively young). No matter how much faster, stronger or more skilled you think you are then your dad, he absolutely refuses to let you win. The guys on the Dream Team had the biggest egos in the world, but the challenge of being the best team ever made those guys come together and play as a unit. That truly was the greatest TEAM of all time.

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