City Sports Report

The 1992 Dream Team Would Embarrass the 2012 Olympic Team

Original Olympic Dream Team 1991

Recently, the ego of future NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and the 2012 Olympic Team made a statement that sparked a lot of debate. When asked how his current team would fare against the 1992 Dream Team, Kobe had this response. ” Well, just from a basketball standpoint, they obviously have a lot more size than we do — you know, with [David] Robinson and [Patrick] Ewing and [Karl] Malone and those guys. But they were also, some of those wing players, were also a lot older, at kind of the end of their careers. We have just a bunch of young racehorses, guys that are eager to compete. So I don’t know. It’d be a tough one, but I think we’d pull it out.”

The comments by Bryant inspired a response from the best player on the 1992 team, Michael Jordan, who responded “I absolutely laughed” when he heard what Bryant said. Jordan said there is “No comparison” and added “For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done,” Jordan said. “I heard Kobe say we were not athletic,” Jordan responded, “But we were smart. He said we were too old, but I was 29 and in the prime of my career. Pip (Scottie Pippen) was 26 or 27, (Charles) Barkley was 29, Patrick (Ewing) was 29 and Chris Mullin was 29. Almost everybody was still in their 20s.”

One of the most outspoken members of the 1992 Dream Team also responded to the comments by Kobe. “I just started laughing” said Charles Barkley, when he heard the statement.” How old is Kobe Bryant? He’s 34? And he’s calling us old? At the time, we were only like 28, 29. Michael Jordan and me were the same age. We were both 29. Other than Kobe, LeBron (James) and Kevin Durant, I don’t think anybody else on that team makes our team,” Barkley said.

Even the coach of the current team, Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski disagreed with Bryant. “Right now I wouldn’t say that,” Krzyzewski said, adding “But this team can be very good. The one thing about this team they are all kind of in their prime or getting ready to go into their prime, and Kobe hasn’t lost anything. Whereas in ’92 there were guys at the end of their careers. Larry (Bird) had a hard time physically, John Stockton was hurt, Magic had been out a year. In their prime, all those guys together, there was no team ever like that.”

My opinion? The 1992 team would crush the 2012 team. The Dream Team of 1992 won their eight games in the Olympics by a combined 360 points, or an average of 45 points per game. The 2012 Olympic team could play my friend and I in one of the eight games and still not win the games by an average of 45 points. There will be plenty of forthcoming evidence, but last night’s game against Brazil proves the point of Jordan, Barkley, Krzyzewski and I.

After one quarter, the United States trailed Brazil by 10, 27-17, before pulling out an 80-69 victory. LeBron James led the team with 30 points. The United States were outrebounded by the Brazilian team 38-30. Anderson Varejao, who isn’t one of the more talented big men in the NBA, and has never come close to making an All-Star Game appearance, led Brazil with 13 rebounds off the bench. No player on the US team had more than the six rebounds pulled down by James. Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and David Robinson are all in the top 30 in the NBA for rebounding all-time. The current United States team has one center, Tyson Chandler, who may not even be in the same league as an all-around player as Christian Laettner, the twelfth man on the 1992 Dream Team. The 1992 Dream Team would get offensive rebound after offensive rebound defended by the 2012 team if the two were to face-off in a fantasy match up.

As great as Kobe Bryant is, he does struggle against great defense, and, at the two-guard position, Jordan is the greatest defender. Jordan is a former winner of the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and was always one to rise to the challenge. Defending Kobe would be one, and Jordan would succeed, as he did most often. The only potential mismatches I see for the 1992 Dream Team guarding the current Olympic team would be James and Kevin Durant. Scottie Pippen, a great defender in his own right, would likely get the assignment of guarding James, a match up I would have loved to have watched. They are close in height, but James is a lot stronger than Pippen. Magic Johnson might also be used to guard LeBron James in this fictional match up. Kevin Durant would be another tough match up, and if on the court with James, would also face numerous defenders. Durant is too agile for any of the big men to guard him, but too tall for any of the shorter players to guard him. We did see James have success on Durant when playing him physically, something FIBA allows more than the NBA, and perhaps that would be the key containing him.

Magic Johnson might have been a little passed his prime, but at the age of 32, he was still capable of playing basketball at a high level. Besides LeBron James, the 2012 team would not have an ideal match up defensively for Magic. Stockton, the all-time assists leader, is a master of the pick-and-roll, and running picks with Karl Malone and David Robinson would be unstoppable. On the defensive end, Magic and Stockton might have problems guarding Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook, but the shot-blocking ability of the 1992 erase a lot of the shots

In this fictional match up, I would see LeBron notching a triple double and Durant going for 20+, but Kobe would struggle and Tyson Chandler and the front line would all be in foul trouble. The four big men, Barkley, Ewing, Malone and Robinson would dominate the boards, and lead the 1992 Dream Team to a near-30 point win with very balanced scoring.


  1. Ricky Keeler

    July 17, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    If this USA team is going to stay focused on being better than the ’92 dream team instead of their opponents, they aren’t going to come away with the Gold medal

    • razzandjazzsports

      July 17, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      Great point Ricky, that is a conversation to be had at a later date.

  2. ~Dos Centavos

    July 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    This is an excellent take on a semi-trite subject. Kobe’s ego always gets the better of him, hence the outlandish comments he makes. I would lower the spread to 20 or so.

    • razzandjazzsports

      July 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      I would take the 1992 team minus the 20 points. The rebounding edge would be astonishing.

  3. Joe Roberts, Jr.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I think I agree with every word you’ve written here. The Pippen-James matchup would be intriguing. Their games are very similar. James’ strength would carry the day, but it would be a classic.

    • razzandjazzsports

      July 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks Joe. Coming from you with all of your basketball knowledge that is a great compliment. Yes, Pippen versus James would be a good one, and James can get sloppy with the ball sometimes, but he would outplay Pippen.

  4. Michael Dean

    July 17, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    I agree w/ most of what you said except that Kobe would’ve wore Mike’s ass out & I sincerely believe Scottie would shut down Lebron & Durant at this stage in Durant’s career. Scottie was a better defender than Michael. Durant still doesn’t attack the rim frequently so Scottie would play him for the jumper and bother his dribble into the shot. In my opinion he’d easily shut down Lebron. Lebron doesn’t know how to attack the feet of the player who is guarding him yet & past players weren’t afraid to take charges. Lebron wouldn’t get in the lane as easily on the defenses of the past.
    The only players I can think of who had options off of options in the history of the NBA are/were Earl Monroe, Pistol Pete Maravich, Kobe Bryant & Elgin Baylor. And none of them had as many options off of options as Kobe has. Kobe’s the most difficult shot maker in history of league. You better youtube Kobe v Michael. Even though MJ was w/ Wizards…Kobe dropped a double nickel on him. And MJ started that game off on fire. When Kobe was a young buck, MJ had his hands full with him. This doesn’t mean that Kobe is better than Mike. I’m not saying that! But Kobe’s 81 wasn’t a mirage.

    • razzandjazzsports

      July 17, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      I don’t think anyone could wear MJ out, let alone Kobe. Scottie might have shut down LeBron and/or Durant. I will try to take a look at some box scores from Kobe versus Michael in Kobe’s first two seasons.

  5. hu7stle1

    July 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Good article. My only thing is I dont think the rest of the world was as competitive in basketball in 1992 (hince the number of blowouts the Dream Team had). Also more NBA players play FIBA ball for their countries now than in 1992. So all in all the numbers cant really be relied on for a valid comparison because the worldwide talent level was different. At the end of the day I still give a slight nod to the 1992 guys mainly cause of Jordan and their front court size.

    • razzandjazzsports

      July 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Thank you sir. The rest of the world wasn’t as good, but, with the exception of Spain, the rest of the world doesn’t have two all-star players on the same roster. WAIT, you have a slight nod to 1992???

  6. BenZweiman521

    July 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I wouldn’t put too much weight into the Brazil exhibition game, but I completely agree with the “Dream Team” being the best basketball team every assembled. The DT boasted 11 hall of famers and arguably the best college basketball player of all-time (Christian Laettner). This years Olympic team is extremely talented and I think would benefit from having Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade on the roster, but still don’t stack up well against the best player of all-time (MJ), the best two PG’s off all-time (Stockton and Magic) and Ewing, Barkley and Malone…I mean come on. Anyway, check out my blog, talked a bit about this years Olympic team already.

    • razzandjazzsports

      July 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Ben I think there will be plenty of games where you see the lack of rebounding and size exposed as a weakness for the current team. Spain has three NBA Big Men, and the United States only has two really, in Chandler and Love, who looked small against Brazil. Laettner is the most accomplished basketball player in the last 25 years, not the best, and not even close all time. The 1992 team could have been improved too, which Shaq over Laettner and Isiah Thomas on the team.

  7. PBinLosAngeles

    August 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    8/12/12 –
    A couple of nights ago, the NBC Olympics broadcast opened their show with a short, very cool, documentary on the 1992 Dream Team. And among other things Magic opined in a present-day interview (Life long Lakers fan here, BTW) was that the 92 Dream Team may have been the greatest basketball line-up ever assembled.
    Asked about that possibility, Kareem Abdul Jabbar gave his opinion, and while Kareem conceded that the 1992 Team USA line-up was “very formidable and impressive” he went on to say that he felt that the 1972 NBA Western Conference All-Stars was by far the greatest assembly of American basketball talent ever to be placed on the same roster. He also said that – given an equal amount of preparation and time together, like that the “Dream Teams“ have had – the 1972 roster would have crushed any team they would have been presented with. After hearing Kareem’s opinion, I checked the roster he was referring to; he was absolutely freaking correct…The proverbial “whose guarding Jordan” argument wouldn’t even apply, as Wilt and Kareem would send anything coming down the paint to the rafters. The 1972 Western Conference All-Stars were as follows:
    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    Wilt Chamberlain
    Gail Goodrich
    Connie Hawkins
    Elvin Hayes
    Spencer Haywood
    Bob Lanier
    Bob Love
    Oscar Robertson
    Cazzie Russell
    Paul Silas
    Jimmy Walker
    Jerry West
    Sidney Wicks

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