In the aftermath of a wonderful Dream Team documentary, the nation has, once again, developed an undeniable love for the sport of basketball. The past success of the Dream Team’s success being brought to a documentary showcases their triumph in a way that the current generation has never seen.
Before the documentary, they just knew that there were 11 Hall of Famers and Christian Laettner was on the squad. They didn’t know about the dynamic of the team and how well they meshed together. They didn’t know about the tension between Isiah Thomas and the rest of the NBA nor the relationship that Chuck Daly and Michael Jordan were supposed to not have that they ended up having anyway. Hell, most of them probably didn’t know about Chuck Daly for that matter.
In recent news, because of the spark that this documentary has created, the question has been posed of whether or not the current team of Olympians could beat the Dream Team. It was originally stated by Kobe Bryant that the current team could beat the 1992 team. Today, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley responded to Bryant by saying that they have no shot really.
Of course, those are both responses that should be expected by the public. Neither side has any incentive so say that the opponent is better than the other and both sides have fierce competitors. When talking about Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, winning is their nature. Losing is something that is hated and shunned upon so they’ll never admit that anything will defeat them.
I’m here to pose the question, though, is Kobe right? Can they defeat the Dream Team?
The first thing that we should do is compare the rosters.
The 1992 “Dream Team”
Charles Barkely, PF
Patrick Ewing, C
David Robinson, C
Magic Johnson, PG
Michael Jordan, SG
Scottie Pippen, SF
Chris Mullin, SF
Christian Laettner, PF
John Stockton, PG
Karl Malone, PF
Clyde Drexler, SG
Larry Bird, SF
The 2012 Team
LeBron James, SF
Kobe Bryant, SG
Tyson Chandler, C
Andre Iguodola, SF
Chris Paul, PG
Deron Williams, PG
Russell Westbrook, PG
Kevin Durant, SF
Blake Griffin(possibly), PF
Anthony Davis(possibly), PF
Kevin Love, PF
James Harden, SG
Carmelo Anthony, SF
Both squads are stacked, no doubt. Each side has mismatches that could counter the other.
For the 2012 squad, the point guard play outmatches that of the 1992 squad. Magic Johnson was way passed his prime at this point in his career. This is when he was coming off of his hiatus from basketball because of HIV and he was never a monster defensively. He’s 34 at this point and is best on the offensive end. I don’t think he compares to Chris Paul or Deron Williams at that moment.
John Stockton was only 30 at the time and was okay defensively. He was never a slouch, but barely anyone can check Paul or Williams. I think Stockton would be their best bet but I’m not sold that he would be able to.
The mismatch that I think takes the cake is the 1992 bigs against the 2012 bigs. During the Golden Age of Basketball, it was all about the bigs and Michael Jordan. From Patrick Ewing all the way down to Charles Barkley, every single big on that team had a low post game. The same can’t be said for any of the bigs on the 2012 roster. Also, the only defensive big that the 2012 roster really features is Tyson Chandler. If Anthony Davis does end up being on the team because of Blake Griffin’s recent injury, I know for a fact that he still wouldn’t be able to handle the likes of Ewing, Malone, Robinson, or Barkley in the post. Let alone Larry Bird.
Defensively, all of the bigs from 1992 aside from Barkley were excellent. We’re talking Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, and Karl Malone. These guys were known to strike fear into anyone who came into the paint. Ewing more than the others. I think that’s what the 2012 team will be predicated off of–if so they play right into the 1992 team’s hands.
Also, you’d have to factor in the best player on each team. For the dream team, its Michael Jordan of course. For the 2012 team its LeBron James. They’re both in their respective primes at this point in time, but 1992 Jordan would be better than 2012 LeBron James. He averaged approximately 30 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds. LeBron’s numbers were great, but they just aren’t as good.
I think that Kobe has somewhat of a point–they would be able to hold their own against the Dream Team for a while. But once you get down to it, I think the Dream Team is better defensively and in the low post which is a key area in any basketball game that you play.
In a best of seven series, they may be able to win one game. One close one. But I think that Kobe is dreaming here–1992 was apart of the greatest era in basketball for a reason.