Kobe Bryant stirred up some controversy and ruffled the feathers of several NBA Hall of Fame players last week when he said that the current version of Team USA would defeat the original “Dream Team” circa the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Let’s take a look at both teams and compare them to see if Bryant’s statement has any merit.
1992: Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, coach Chuck Daly.
2012: Tyson Chandler, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala, James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis, coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Probable Starting Lineup:
1992: Robinson, Malone, Bird, Jordan, Johnson
2012: Chandler, James, Anthony, Bryant, Westbrook
Advantages for 1992 Dream Team
The original Dream Team has a couple of major advantages over the latest version of Team USA. For one, the Dream Team had a tremendous inside presence with big men like Robinson and Ewing patrolling the middle and hardnosed power forwards such as Barkley and Malone to be a formidable duo both on the glass and in the paint. The Dream Team could exploit this size mismatch all day long as Tyson Chandler is the lone true center on the 2012 team’s roster.
The Dream Team’s other major advantage is experience. Eleven of the 12 players on the team have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and each of those 11 appeared in a NBA Finals series with a chance to win a championship. Six of the original Dream Team members were named the MVP of the NBA at some point in their careers and arguably the greatest player in history, Michael Jordan, was a part of the team. It’s hard to argue with those sorts of credentials.
Advantages for Team USA 2012
The biggest advantage that the current edition of Team USA would carry over the Dream Team is their athleticism. This version has the ability to run the floor with abandon and push the tempo. Westbrook is devastating in a fast break style of offense and has the ability to break down even the best defenders. There are plenty of complementary pieces for that style of offense with Durant, James, Anthony and company.
One of the 2012 version’s other advantages is their versatility. Love is a 6’11″ power forward who can shoot from the perimeter as evidenced by his 37 percent career mark from three point land. Durant is capable of shooting from the outside and so is James. Seeing players that are 6’9″ or better that can hit perimeter jump shots with ease is something that was not nearly as prevalent in the game before.
Jordan vs. Bryant: Of course, the two best shooting guards in the past quarter century would have to lock up. Bragging rights would be on the line after Bryant’s comments and Jordan’s scoffing reply.
Size vs. Athleticism: Sure, the 2012 team could run track teams into submission but would they be able to force enough turnovers and grab enough rebounds to aid their transition game or would the size of the Dream Team shut that avenue off?
Coaching Battle: It would be a battle of heavyweights as Krzyzewski is the all-time wins leader in Division I men’s college hoops, while Daly took the Pistons to three straight NBA Finals and two NBA championships. Who gets the upper hand?
Which team do you think emerges victorious?