Kobe Bryant thinks the 2012 version of Team USA can beat the legendary, original Dream Team that conquered the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona.
Of course, we’ll never have a chance at seeing that game as much as we’d love to. Every team that has followed that original Dream Team has been compared to them for they indeed set the standard of excellence and perfection in basketball, and to some, sports in general. This standard is legendary for good reason so any team that dares to challenge what the Dream Team accomplished 20 years ago will receive an avalanche of criticism and will be expected to live up to those proclamations.
Kobe Bryant, who will undoubtedly go down in the history books as one of the greatest players in the NBA, is the latest player to proclaim that his group of players can surpass the glory that came with that original Dream Team. In my most humble opinion, he’s not even close.
There are some merits to Kobe’s argument. His team’s straight-out-of-college player, Anthony Davis, may have a much better Olympic campaign over Laettner’s dismal 4.8 pts and 2.5 rbs per game in ’92. Those “young racehorses” like Westbrook, Durant and Griffin are exciting to watch and have shown the potential to lead very successful careers although it may still be a while before they deliver on that promise. LeBron has proven that he’s an elite player and that his inclusion in the talks for G.O.A.T. aren’t all that preposterous after all.
Kobe’s argument lies on the fact that although the ’92 team may have a height advantage over them but his squad sports some “young racehorses” that would help them trump the aging players of the Dream Team who were at the twilight of their careers when they went into that competition. Kobe’s emphasis on the ages of players like Larry Bird and “Magic” should be the least of his concerns, as I immediately thought soon after hearing Kobe’s remarks. Barkley thought the same and took to The Mike Missanelli Show on 97.5 The Fanatic Philadelphia to refute that Jordan and he were only 29 while Kobe himself is soon to be 34. The only player on the Dream Team older than that was Larry Bird at 35. The average age of the ’92 team was 28.8 while the ’12 team’s is 26.6.
Although the game has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years, leading to a much more agile and speedy form of basketball, the quality of this year’s squad is not good enough to seriously keep up with Jordan’s men. At about the same amount of league experience (7.3 years for the ’92 players vs. 7.1 years for the ’12 players) the Dream Team leads the London team in the Championships department. Between them, the London squad have seven rings (5 of those are Kobe’s), four MVPs, and six scoring titles while having members of each of the last four NBA champions. The Dream Team won 12 titles, nine MVPs, and six scoring titles by ‘92 with members of the last two champions.
After the historic run in Barcelona in which they swept every team they played by an average of 40+ points, they added 11 more titles, nine more MVPs, and five more scoring titles before they all retired. That happened despite their whole “being at the end of their careers.” Good analysis, Kobe. Then add to that that every one of them besides Laettner has been inducted into the NBA Hall Of Fame.
I wouldn’t normally say this, but Charles Barkley made perfect sense: “Other than Kobe, LeBron (James) and Kevin Durant, I don’t think anybody else on that team makes our team.”