The Dream Team?

FoxMichael Jordan says there’s no way Kobe Bryant and this year’s USA Olympic basketball team could’ve beaten the 1992 Dream Team. Meet the 12 members of Team USA who will be going to London. Jordan told The Associated Press Thursday that he laughed, ”I absolutely laughed” when hearing Bryant’s comments that the squad training in Las Vegas could take Jordan and company. Jordan says there was ”no comparison” which team was better, adding that Byrant comparing the two teams ”is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done.” Jordan spoke prior to a celebrity golf tournament in Charlotte. He says the 1992 team, which included 11 future Hall of Famers and won its six games by an average of more than 43 points en route to capturing the gold medal, may not have been as athletic but was definitely smarter.

People hear the phrase Dream Team and their brains instantly go crazy with visions of Larry Bird jumpers, Magic Johnson no-look passes, and Jordan being quintessential Jordan.  But this public consensus that the Dream Team would trounce the current American Olympians is straight up ignorant.  And ignorant is the correct word — these people just don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. So pump your breaks for one minute before slamming the concept and listen.

First of all, by the time the Dream Team came around, Larry Bird could barely stand and Magic Johnson was an old man with HIV.  Them’s just the facts.  Two of the best three players on the squad were well past their primes and, frankly, wouldn’t be able to guard the USA Select team let alone the USA starters.  Do you honestly believe Larry Bird could keep up with LeBron, or Durant, or Kobe, or ANYBODY on the current starting roster?  Do you honestly believe Magic Johnson would hold his own on the defensive end if he had to chase around Russell Westbrook (let alone a healthy Derrick Rose) all game?  Stop lying to yourself because I can see you doing it right now.

There are only two main advantages the original Dream Team has over this current squad: size and Michael Jordan.  That’s it.  The size thing would play a pivotal role in said hypothetical matchup, as Ewing, Barkley, David Robinson, and Karl Malone would eat today’s front line alive.  No question.  But if you throw in our current injured stars (i.e. Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh) to go along with Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, and Blake Griffin, today’s team would be much better equipped to deal.  Sure, they’d still be at a disadvantage, but Dwight’s quickness and power versus any of those old guys is huge.

And the only other advantage is MJ.  Now no matter how tempted I am to sit here and say that Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are nearly the same exact player with (very) slightly different skill sets and situations, I’ll hold off and give Jordan his much-earned due.  But the two are close enough where the Jordan factor wouldn’t result in an automatic victory.  You can walk around with all that Kobe Hate in your blood if you want, but when it’s all said and done he is a top 5 all-timer.

I’m not saying today’s team would win every time, I’m just saying that every game would be close.  Hell, AccuScore agrees with me and had today’s team winning 47% of the time (with the average margin of victory being a single point).  It’s close.  Real close.  And I think if we’re being honest with ourselves, the reality would be that today’s players are more physically gifted, younger, and deserve to be respected in this conversation instead of written off as automatically inferior.

Besides, what did people expect Kobe to do?  Suck the Dream Team’s dick and say how great MJ is?  Please.  KB is a competitor and Jordan in his shoes would’ve said the same thing.

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