July 23, 2012

Dream Team vs. '12

     Whenever great players or great teams come along in sports, our impulse is to make comparisons to the greats who came before them. How could we not? When we say someone is or could be the next Michael Jordan, for example, it's because Jordan set an unprecedented bar for greatness. In that sense, I believe it is fair to indulge ourselves in these comparisons. Still, there are those who believe there is a gray area that exists due to the difference in time periods. Thus, those people would not dare attempt to compare a player or team from our era to that of another. After all, these are essentially empty comparisons (we'll never really know) to which every sports fan is entitled to their own educated opinion. However, due to recent debate, we want to discuss the potential outcome of a best-of-seven series between the 1992 Dream Team and this year's Olympic team. A best-of-seven would be the only reasonable way to determine who was truly the better team. My colleagues and I have broken down our picks. See if you agree with any of us, and share why or why not.

Martin's Pick: Dream Team in 7
I think it's fair to assume that this year's team is the more athletic of the two. '12 is probably faster in the open court and more versatile at the guard and forward positions. Still, I think the Dream Team was athletic enough to accommodate match ups. I could see Mike, Scottie, and Clyde on the floor at the same time for instance. They would probably have to keep just one of their bigs (Robinson, Ewing, Malone, Barkley) on the floor as opposed to two. All four of the guys in those parentheses could score on Tyson Chandler, but would be at a clear disadvantage defending his substitution (Durant, Iguodala). On the other hand, the Dream Team could expose the glaring lack of inside presence on the '12 team.

(Side bar: I think Magic & Larry would play limited spot minutes against '12. Wouldn't be able to keep up with the pace, let alone guard any of '12's players at their position.)

It's not fair to say '12 is small, but by NBA standards they certainly play small. Made up of guards and swing forwards, LeBron, Durant, and Carmelo can often find themselves at center when Tyson Chandler is not on the floor. Blake Griffin could have helped on the glass and guarding bigger guys, but even he's not a true big man. While '12 does has players who are willing rebounders, (Westbrook, Iguodala, Carmelo, LeBron, etc.) it's no secret they are still short-handed on the glass. Guarding the Dream Team in the half court would be difficult for them. '12 prays on quick, forced shots that turn into transition opportunities, where they are most lethal. The Dream Team had some of the best half court weapons to this day. Sure we haven't seen the best of this '12 team yet, but we know enough about their roster to know what their best should look like.

At the end of the day, Michael Jordan would be the best player on that floor. No one on '12 could stop him. They could try switching Kobe, Westbrook, Iguodala, or LeBron on him to tire him out, but they couldn't stop him. My number one reason for picking the Dream Team: give me Michael Jordan against anyone on the '12 roster. While '12 has the quicker and more versatile team, the Dream Team's grit, physical and mental toughness would bring them a Game 7 victory. '12 would win the first game as a statement (we're here), followed by an illustrious adjustment Game 2 from Chuck Daly. Neither team would beat the other twice in a row until after Game 6. Tied 3-3. Game 7 goes down to the wire, and in the wire, give me 29-year-old Michael Jordan against anyone.

Janay's Pick: Dream Team in 6
Simple and clear, I just don't see Michael Jordan and company letting this series go seven games. This series was won once they announced the roster. '12 would definitely give the Dream Team a great series, but 29 year old Mike and the strength inside would be too much.

Robinson, Barkley, Ewing, and Malone were phenomenal big men who would exploit '12 each and every game. Chandler may be a defensive force in today's game, but has never faced the talent, feisty attitude, and rebounding ability the Dream Team has. I give the outside match up to '12 due to their athleticism and quickness.They have the ability to win a couple games with the core they have.  I just don't see Jordan letting this go seven games. He's never played in a Game 7 his whole career, and I don't see him starting in this series.

Coach K would have to make very important decisions for match ups and substitutions, but would it be enough? I give every advantage to the Dream Team except at the point guard position. I see '12 winning Game 1 in a statement game with Dream Team winning Game 2 rather easily. Game 3 comes down to the wire with '92 pulling it out. Game 4 is a little shaky for me in a must win situation but it goes to Dream Team. They have been in must win situations their whole careers, playoff game after playoff game, their execution gets them through. Game 5 will go to '12 showing a ready to not lay down attitude. Then Game 6 Jordan puts the icing on the cake and eats it as well.

(Scottie was way out of line saying they would win by 25, but they would win)

Tommy's Pick: '12 in 7
Even though this is an argument we would never be able to settle unless some type of time machine was created, you just can’t help but wonder the outcome. At first thought, I'd say the '92 Dream Team simply because of all the Hall of Famers. But as I love to be contrary to popular opinion, I sit back and think to myself, this is a 20 year gap we are talking about. The game of basketball has vastly evolved since 1992. Not only from the USA perspective, even though I will get into that shortly, but look at the competition we are facing now. 

While watching ESPN First Take this morning, Steven A. Smith brought up a great point. He could only name 3 foreign players that were part of the NBA game that the US faced in '92; Arvydas Sabonis from Lithuania, Detlef Schrempf from Germany, and Toni Kukoc from Croatia, and there were probably a couple more if that. Today we have guys like Manu Ginobli, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, Carlos Delfino, and those four international NBA players are on the same Olympic team. I could keep going with the Tony Parkers, Nicholas Batum from France, the Gasol brothers, Ibaka, and if not due to a knee injury Ricky Rubio from Spain. But you see what I’m getting at here, the competition has improved monumentally. The numbers of players from overseas in the NBA has tripled since the Dream Team played. That’s not me taking a shot at the greatness of any of those players. They won games by 40 plus points, so that’s nothing to overlook. But on the other side, neither is this 2012 squad we have representing the US. 
The first argument I always hear is this '12 squad doesn’t have the height to compete with the '92 squad. Looking at it closer, the '92 squad had seven footers Patrick Ewing and David Robinson, but only one of them started and that was usually Ewing. I give that clear advantage to the '92 squad, even though the 12’s only seven footer and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler would battle end to end the entire game. Now for the rest of the guards and forwards, even though both squads experimented with multiple starting units, the '92 team mostly went with Magic (6’8), MJ (6’6), Bird (6’9), Barkley (6’6) and Ewing (7’1). For the 12 squad we got CP3 (6’0), Kobe (6’6), Lebron (6’8), Durant (6’10), Chandler (7ft). Aside from the glaring height advantage at point guard, I see it to be pretty even. Even with that height advantage at the lead guard spot this wasn’t the same Magic from the “Showtime” Lakers, this was a Magic going through his last hoorah, a Magic that didn’t even play in the most recent NBA season. Guarding a much younger CP3 would be a match up issue. You’d have Kobe and MJ going at it, LeBron and Charles, a 23-year-old freak of nature Kevin Durant going against a much older Larry Bird with an ailing back. So as I’m analyzing this match up further and further I’m starting to think that I like this 2012 squad over the Dream Team. Maybe because I was only 4 years old when the '92 squad actually played and this is what I’m seeing now, but hear me out. 
We can even go further down the line-ups and analyze the benches. For the '92 squad; Pippen (6’7), Malone (6’8), Mullen (6’7), Drexler (6’7), Robinson (7’1), Stockton (6’0) and only played 4 games due to injury, Laetner (6’11). With the '12 squad we got; Deron Williams (6’3), Melo (6’8), Andre Iguodala (6’6), Kevin Love (6’10), Westbrook (6’3), Harden (6’5), Anthony Davis (6’11). So when I'm hearing the argument of size, outside of Robinson and Ewing who rarely if ever were on the floor at the same time, the size advantage is pretty much even. In some match ups it favors the '12 squad with 6’10 Durant, 6’8 Lebron and a 6’8 Melo who are essentially guards that can play the 2-5 positions, well 1-5 if you're talking about Lebron. 
Now to answer the question, who would win in a seven game series? First, lets be clear. The '92 squad still had the G.O.A.T who would be the best player on the floor every game, but I’m going to step out on a limb and say that the 2012 squad would take this series in every bit of seven games. I was going to say less than seven, but for the sake of me sounding crazy and losing your attention, I’ll stick with seven. 2012’s speed and versatility would be too much for the '92 squad to handle in the end. The reason I believe it would go seven games is because of the physicality of the '92 squad which would make a few if not all of these games ugly drag out games where MJ closes the 2012 squad out in the end. There would be runs back and forth for both squads but none that would be insurmountable. Even in the final game of the series I believe it would go down to the wire. MJ puts '92 up by 1, but with 3 seconds left on the clock after a time out from '12, they draw up a play from half court where they set up none other than “the black”………..man named Kevin Durant who puts in a walk off three pointer in the face of Scottie Pippen, sending the Dream team packing. The MVP of the series being LeBron James for his defensive assignments and basically doing what we have now come to see LeBron do in the this recent NBA finals. So there you have it. I’ve chosen my side. So let's embrace debate. Do you agree or disagree? Either way I thank you for reading. Til next time and God bless.

@marley_mcfly- Martin
@NayJay14- Janay 
@RealThrillHill- Tommy


  1. Janay: You said would give every advantage to the Dream Team except at point guard. What about at forward? I think I'd want Durant, Melo, and LeBron over Scottie, Drexler, and Mullin.

    Tommy: I think the argument about size people make is not just about height but inside presence, which '12 is limited. Also, the Mike I watched as a kid wouldn't leave 3 seconds on the clock, especially for these guys.

  2. Tommy and I went back and forth for hours on this topic. I have the dream team in 4 or 5. This 2012 team is not even the best team our current NBA has to offer. No Dwight, no D-rose, no Wade, no bosh! With those players I could see a viable argument, but without bosh, there is no post player on this team. The point guard position is an advantage for the the 12 team. But magic and Stockton were true generals on the floor. Yes bird and magic were at the ends of their careers, (the only two not in their primes) but magic could still hang. The dream team have way too much size down low. Barkley was an animal on BOTH ends and there is no way he would be denied. Plus you have Malone Robinson and Ewing which just shows you how physical and deep that team was. The boys right now are way too soft to bang with the legends. Now defensively pippen could really lock down the perimeter which means he would get the daunting task of covering Durant. He wont be able to completely stop him but he would definitely be able to impose his will on him. Then there were also pure scorers in Mullen and drexler.

    Overall,I agree that 12 is more athletic but the 92 dreamteam had way more skill, talent, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY that generation is the most intelligent bunch of players ever to play the game. I honestly think the game would be more of a physical hard nosed game instead of a track meet. I truly believe that 92 will just dominate in the paint and magic will make sure the pace of the game suits them. Lebron would truly be able to have his way if he plays smart. The king is very dominant but when he doesn't use his head and settles for jumpshots they will be at a disadvantage! And the last point I have to make, is regarding the only player I haven't named from 92 team: Michael Jordan!
    Argument over!

    All in all, magic and mj will control this series and play the game exactly the way they would like to. I feel like 92 wins three games by more than 15 points. And 12 keeps 1 maybe 2 games close. I just feel like the maturity of 92 will overpower the inexperience and poor shot selection of the 12 team.

    1. Thanks for the comments, Vijay. Agreed with everything you said except Dream Team having more talent. I think '12 has more individual talent at every position except center.

  3. Also the inconsistency at the outside shooting for 12 is their Achilles heal.

  4. I agree with the forwards of 12 having more individual talent but Dream Team having the better situation. Melo, Durant, and Bron are forced into power forward spots which offensively gives them clear advantage but defensivey hurts them. Defense wins games.

  5. Janay: You said, "I just don't see Jordan letting this go seven games" and many would agree, but what do you think Kobe AND Lebron feel about that?

    1. Why wouldn't they agree? He never played in a game 7 . We all know how Kobe feels because he is a Jordan prototype with the same killer mentality. He has the attitude. Lebron in my opinion has just developed some sort of that but he has not grasped it. We all heard them say they believe they will beat them however its the team. Ill take Michael Jordan everyday.

  6. postingan yang bagus tentang Dream Team vs. '12


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