This Post was orignially ran on Sporttechie.comThe 2012 USA basketball team completed their goal and won the gold medal over the weekend. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant led the team on a remarkable run to ultimate victory. This team broke Olympic records and showcased a plethora of athletic ability even with their lack of low post size. As we know, before the Olympics started, Kobe stated that this team could beat the 1992 Dream Team. This caused an immediate up roar about which http://shedavenue.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpteam is better. Magic Johnson even Tweeted: “The 1992 Dream Team had 11 HOFs, 23 champ rings & the greatest player of all time in Jordan. No chance this year’s team would take us.” Given the fact that these are different teams from different eras, it only makes sense to look at the comparison in a more statistical way. Let’s make the comparison once again and see if we can put this to rest.
Position by position, there different advantages to each team, including the coach. Both teams are different in their approach to the game and feature some of the top players of the game. Of course not everyone was included. For instance, the 1992 team could have added Isaiah Thomas and Hakeem Olajuwon to make the team even better. The 2012 team is loaded with talent, but who’s to say the 2008 team didn’t have better talent? The 2012 team would be even better with Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, and Dwight Howard on the team. Before the issue gets really out of hand, let’s examine the positional break downs of each squad.
Going into the Olympics, both 1992 point guards were floor generals (and two of the best all time). Magic Johnson joined after a year off from learning that he was HIV-positive. The previous year, Johnson averaged 19.4 PPG and 12.5 APG, losing to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the NBA Championship. John Stockton was on the brink of championship runs himself, though the Utah Jazz would end up losing to Portland in the 1992 Western Conference Finals. However, the 2012 has the advantage in this department because they have three dynamic point guards (Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Russell Westbrook) who altogether average 20 points-per-game in the regular season and are fast playmakers. The youth and athleticism at PG would be too much for the Dream Team to handle.
Advantage: 2012 Team.
The Dream Team had two of the all-time greatest NBA shooting guards in Michael Jordan and Clyde “The Glide” Drexler. They both were in the prime of their careers averaging over 25 PPG, 5 APG, and 5 RPG. Also Michael Jordan has long been regarded as a fierce competitor and has been considered to be the greatest NBA player ever. Kobe Bryant would have trouble dealing with an MJ still in his prime (age 29) considering that Kobe is now 34. Even though Kobe is a fierce competitor himself and is still playing at a high level, he would come up short in this match up. Also the depth at this position (Andre Iguodala and James Harden) is not on the same level as with the 1992 duo.
Advantage: Dream Team.
The 1992 Team had a respectable line-up at the small forward position. Although Larry Bird was on his last leg (with chronic back problems), Scottie Pippen was a dependable defender and Chris Mullen was a spot-up shooter. However, the 2012 squad contains three of the top 10 players in the NBA at the position. This is the spot where the 2012 has their biggest advantage with the best player in the world right now Lebron James, the guy that’s right behind him (Kevin Durant), and the score-from-anywhere threat, Carmelo Anthony. All three of these players are offensive nightmares to face and are in the prime of their careers. These guys can drive, pass, defend, and shoot the lights out of the ball. The only small forward who would have had a chance at defending the 2012 small forwards was Scottie Pippen, and even that would have been a failing proposition.
Advantage: 2012 Team.
The 1992 Team had strong, dominating forces at the power forward position. Karl Malone and Charles Barkley were two of the most intimidating power forwards (PF) to ever play the position in the NBA; they were monsters of the glass. Not only that, they could score! Christian Laettner is considered one of the best college basketball players of all time so he deserves some respect as well. The 2012 team only sported Kevin Love as their experienced PF after the team lost Blake Griffin to injury and wouldn’t have had enough strength to deal with the 1992 Team. The thing that Kevin Love does have is his perimeter play, which would have come in handy against the Dream Team, and he can grab rebounds. However, it’s unlikely that he would have dominated inside given the amount of contesting elbows in play.
Advantage: Dream Team.
This is the position on which the ’92 team would have had complete advantage over the 2012 team. Patrick Ewing and David Robinson are two of the best centers of all-time and are masters of the post. The lone center on the 2012 Team was Tyson Chandler (Anthony Davis is considered a tweener between center and PF, not to mention a rookie). Chandler was the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year but he wouldn’t have the size to deal with the retro centers of the past. To be honest, his impact was barely felt on this current team during the Olympics. Had Dwight Howard been on the team, it would have been a different story.
Advantage: Dream Team.
Chuck Daly overcame a great obstacle in pulling the 92 team together. His personality gave him the power to connect with those players and make them play as a team. The 92 team all stated that they don’t believe another coach could have pull them together better. Daly was mostly defined in the NBA with his seasons and titles in Detroit (nicknamed the “Bad Boys”). His pupil and predecessor Mike Kryzewski has created his own legacy in the Olympics and in college. He is considered one of the greatest college coaches and overall coaches of all time with a 927-289 career record. He has gone 62-1 in the Olympics and stated that this last gold in 2012 is his last hurrah. As easy as it is to go with either one on these coaches, Kryzewski has the advantage because of his coaching career and the way the players respect him and listen to him.
Advantage: 2012 Team.
Individually, the 2012 team set new Olympic records. Kevin Durant became the highest scoring American in a single Olympics with 156 points in eight games. Lebron James became the second NBA player, after Michael Jordan, to win regular season MVP, Finals MVP, an NBA championship and a gold medal in the same year. He also became the first USA Olympic basketball player to record a triple double, and surpassed Michael Jordan with the most Olympic career points with 280. Carmelo Anthony surpassed the US record for points in an Olympic game with 37 points, beating out Stephon Marbury who had 31 points in the 2004 Sydney Games. During Anthony’s record-breaking game, the U.S. also set the Olympic record for points in a game (156) and in a half (78).
In eight games the 1992 team shot 56.5% and the 2012 shot 52.3%, although the 2012 team was more accurate from three-point land. Defensively, the 1992 team protected the rim better by holding their opponents to 39.3% baskets in the lane while the 2012 team allowed 51.8% . This is mostly attributed to the size at the rim that the 1992 Team had. Surprisingly, the advantage on defense was supposed to be on the perimeter for the 2012 Team, but they allowed their opponents to shot 33.2% while the 92 team held theirs to a crisp 30%. Even still, the 2012 Team manage to get 83 steals (average 10.4 per game) and obtain 44.6 rebounds per game. The 2012 Team defeated their opponents by an average of 32.1 points but the 1992 Team beat their opponents by an average of 43.8 points.
Now some of these stats can be misleading because the 1992 Dream Team did not have as much competition that year’s team had (international basketball has come a long way since 1992). However, the 1992 Team was filled with 11 Hall of Famers. No disrespect to the current 2012 Team, but the 1992 Dream Team is still the most dominating team because of their size, elite players and basketball IQ. While it may seem unfair to try to compare this team to the Dream Team, the question will always arise. A sports simulation game run on a platform called Accuscore revealed that the 1992 Team won just 53% of the 10,000 games it simulated and by an average of just one point. So the fact is, this would still be a close match. Either way it goes, the US still reigns as the men’s basketball champion of the world!