What if Wednesday! What if the 1992 Original Dream Team played against the 2012 Olympic Team if the 2012 team had no injuries?
1992 Dream Team Roster: Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, David Robinson, John Stockton, and Christian Laettner.
2012 Hypothetical Olympic Team barring injuries: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, Deron Williams, and Chris Bosh.
The Dream Team Documentary commemorating its 20th anniversary will be shown today on NBATV. With it coming out, it got me thinking about this year’s team and what could have been. I know the easy comparison to do would have been the 2008 Redeem Team vs. the Original Dream Team, but I think if everyone was injury free for the 2012 Olympics, this year’s team is much better than the Redeem Team. Basically, you remove Carlos Boozer, Jason Kidd, Tayshaun Prince, and Michael Redd, and you add Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Tyson Chandler. There’s no way you can say that is not an upgrade, but back to my original argument. This year’s 2012 Olympic Team could have been a team for the ages and could have been a great matchup against the original Dream Team.
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I know I’ll get a lot of hate, but I truly believe this year’s 2012 Olympic Team (barring injuries) could have given the Dream Team a run for their money. Yeah, I know the Dream Team is known as the greatest team ever assembled and won by an average margin of 40-plus points. And yeah, they not only had the best player ever (MJ who was in his respective prime), but also two Top 10 players ever (Larry Bird and Magic Johnson), and ten of their 12 players made the NBA’s “50 Greatest Players in NBA History” in 1996.
But, Larry Bird and Magic were both way past their primes with Magic coming out of his retirement and Larry’s back almost ready to give out. You can’t take into consideration the average margin of victory at 40-plus points as a strong point because the competition was so much weaker back then, and the other teams were more in awe than anything when playing them. Also, supposedly, there is a blemish on the Dream Team’s undefeated record with a loss to the US Select Team (even though the Dream Team beat them the next scrimmage) which featured college superstars at the time such as Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway, and Chris Webber. However, Coach K, who was an assistant at the time, said Chuck Daly barely used MJ and basically fixed the game to prove a point to the Dream Team that they could lose. But still.. I think the Dream Team should have been able to beat the college team without MJ.
Anyways, let’s compare the matchups at each position.
Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams vs. Magic Johnson, John Stockton
Magic Johnson was still Magic Johnson, but he was on the backside of his career, and John Stockton was his consistent self. But, could Magic Johnson and John Stockton guard Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, and Deron Williams who are in their primes (or in Derrick Rose’s case, still has potential to improve)? It would be a tough guard for both teams with Magic's size/ability to see the floor and John Stockton's craftiness versus Chris Paul's IQ, Derrick Rose's athleticism, and Deron Williams' combination of strength and speed.
Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade vs. Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler
Michael Jordan is the best player to ever play the game, and he was in his athletic prime. There’s no question he would win the matchup between an older Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, but you know Kobe and Dwyane wouldn’t back down and if anything fight harder to prove they belong. Clyde, who doesn’t get much love from younger fans, had a great NBA career and at the time of the 92 Olympics was averaging 25 points, 7 boards, and 7 assists for the TrailBlazers. I would take MJ over Kobe and Wade, but I'd take them over Clyde still.
LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony vs. Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Chris Mullin
Between LeBron, KD, and Melo, there’s a lot of offensive firepower coming from the small forward position. They would all drop buckets easily on Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, and Chris Mullin. Scottie Pippen was the defensive stopper for the team and would have had a handful guarding any of those three guys.
Power Forwards/ Centers
Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love vs. Karl Malone, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Christian Laettner
The bigs for the 2012 Olympic Team would be the weakest link. Dwight and Tyson provide strong defense and rebounding but not much offense while Chris Bosh and K Love are able to spread the floor and knock down open 3’s. Karl Malone, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing were perennial all-stars and provided solid defense and strong offense. The game today is way different than the 90’s when physical basketball ruled. Even though the Dream Team bigs would have brought force to the paint, the 2012 bigs would have spread the floor and created mismatches outside.
Overall, I think the 2012 Hypothetical Team and the 1992 Dream Team would have been a great game. Imagine these matchups: LeBron vs. Magic? Two 6’8 facilitators that see the game unlike any other. MJ vs. Kobe? The two most competitive players ever guarding each other! KD vs. Scottie Pippen? The top scorer of today versus the best defender of the 90’s. Dwight vs. D Rob? Two of the most freakishly built centers in the game. Although this is all hypothetical and will never happen (unless we invent a time machine and were able to turn injuries off like 2k), I think it would be a closer game than most would think.
What you think? Dream Team vs Hypothetical 2012 Olympic Team?