By Johnny Goodtimes, Xfinity Sports
Kobe made some waves recently when he declared that the 2012 U.S. Men’s Basketball Team would beat the 1992 “Dream Team.” There is no reason to begrudge Kobe for making the point: he’s a competitor, and any competitor has to believe that they could defeat any opponent placed before him. But was what he said factually accurate? Let’s take a look at the teams position-by-position and see who comes out on top.
PG: John Stockton and Magic Johnson vs. Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul
At first glance, this seems like an advantage for the 1992 team, but that is deceiving. Magic had been out of the game for the past season, and while he relished the chance to play again, he simply wasn’t the same player he had been a few years previous. In fact, he missed two games of the Olympics entirely. Stockton, meanwhile, was a non-factor, attempting all of eight shots in the entire Olympics. That was due to injury, however, and let’s assume everyone is healthy going into this game. When Stockton got hurt, Scottie Pippen ran the point for much of the Olympics. Against the likes of Angola, it didn’t matter. Against Deron Williams, Westbrook, and CP3, it certainly would. Stockton held his own against physically superior point guards, but there’s no way he could hang with a player like Westbrook. With Magic rusty, Pippen focused on stopping Lebron, and Stockton slower than all three of the 2012 guards, give the slight advantage to the younger and much faster 2012 squad.Man, those Dream Teamers could really use Isaiah here. ADVANTAGE: 2012 Team
SG: Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler vs. Kobe Bryant, Andre Iguodala and James Harden
This is a total mismatch for the Dream Team. Jordan in his prime was slightly better than Kobe in his prime. But Kobe’s just past his prime, and Jordan was in the heart of his. The fact that the greatest player on earth was at the peak of his skills gives the Dream Team a huge advantage advantage. Throw in the fact that Drexler was coming off a season in which he finished 2nd to Jordan in MVP voting, and this one’s almost a laugher. (Note: I assume this Olympic team will use Iguodala more as a guard than as a small forward, since they are so stacked at that position.) ADVANTAGE: Dream Team
SF: Larry Bird, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen and Christian Laettner vs. Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony
This is where the athleticism of the 2012 team really becomes a major factor. You have to assume that Pippen has to play almost all of the minutes in this hypothetical matchup. Bird was well past his prime by the ’92 Olympics, and Chris Mullin, while not a stiff defensively, would simply be dominated by LeBron or Durant. The fact that Mullin has to stay off the floor hurts the Dream Teamers, too. He averaged 12.9 PPG for the team, and was coming off a season in which he was an All-NBA First Teamer. He was in his prime, and the Dream Team needs his outside shooting to open up the floor. But his lack of speed really hurts him in this matchup.
ADVANTAGE: 2012 Team
PF: Charles Barkley and Karl Malone vs. Kevin Love and Blake Griffin
The pendulum swings back the other way on this one, as two Hall of Famers in their primes match up with two great players who are still lacking in experience. Barkley was in the midst of a major trade out of Philadelphia (the trade took place eight days before the Opening Ceremonies) and played in the Olympics with a chip on his shoulder. He led the team in scoring with 18 PPG, and was third on the team in rebounds with 4.1 RPG. Malone was great in the Olympics as well, averaging 13 points and tying for the lead in rebounds with 5.3 RPG. Malone and Barkley were at a point in their careers where they were leading teams deep into the playoffs… Griffin and Love have combined to win one playoff series. Experience matters, and here it gives a major advantage to the 1992 team. ADVANTAGE: Dream Team
Center: David Robinson and Patrick Ewing vs. Tyson Chandler
The thing that makes the Dream Team so great isn’t that it had so many awesome players on it; it’s that it had so many of their players at or very near the apex of their careers. This is another example of that. David Robinson was coming off a monster year in which he averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per game, and was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year and was an All-NBA First Teamer. Patrick Ewing was 29, coming off a year in which he made the NBA All-Second Team, as well as Defensive All-Second team and averaged 24 PPG and 11.2 RPG. Compare that to Tyson Chandler’s 11.3 PPG and 9.9 PPG. That’s not to knock Chandler, who is a good player and a nice complement to this team, but this is an absolute mismatch. If Dwight Howard had decided to play, I still would have gone with the Dream Teamers. Without him, this is just absurd. ADVANTAGE: Dream Team
WHAT HAPPENS: Jordan, who never forgets personal snubs, dominates Kobe, talking trash the entire time. The Dream Team completely outclasses the 2012 squad down low, and David Robinson keeps the 2012 team’s superior athletes honest when they try to drive to the paint. The Dream Teamers have no answer for Durant, who eats them alive, and LeBron gets his, despite being pestered by a great defender in Scottie Pippen. But on the flip side, the 2012 squad simply can’t find a way to guard Robinson. Jordan and Robinson dominate, and lead the Dream Teamers to a 115-104 victory.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.