The better “team” is The Dream Team…for historical purposes. The Dream Team was comprised of the most iconic players in basketball history—with an exception or two. Stating that the Dream Team is better than Team USA 2012 is out of absolute respect for those men that comprised the roster, such as Magic, Bird, Jordan, Barkley, Malone, Stockton, Mullin, and Pippen etc. The awe and hysterics that surrounded The Dream Team prevents the reasonable basketball fan and those of older generations who saw the members play in their youth from saying any other team will ever be considered better—or even beat them. President Barrack Obama said it best stating, “ it’s a generational thing.” That’s a great political approach, but even with that, it is difficult to argue The Dream Team could not be beaten by any of their successors, especially the 2012 team that combines talent and accomplishments never witnessed before.
Team USA 2012 assembles unique and incredible talent. Kobe Bryant was the elder statesman, but still one of the most effective players, while the younger yet flourishing talent of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were incredible. LeBron James had a historic run that got an exclamation point with a Gold medal. LeBron showed just how versatile his game is. Carmelo Anthony proved something to the world with his ability to score unconsciously. This team was held together excellently with the point guard play of Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Deron Williams is the better overall talent, by the way. And, Coach Krzyzewski never had to worry when making subs because every member of the team brought their great A-game. Please know that Andre Iguodala is a better athlete than Clyde Drexler (compare their respective dunk contests), and has more game, given the twenty-year gap.
It has been repeated that eleven Hall of Famers (to later be named such) comprised the 1992 team. There could potentially be eleven, future Hall of Famers on the 2012 team, but many years will determine that. Even still, the amount of Hall of Famers shouldn’t be the determining factor of who could win a game or series of games between the two teams. That 1992 Olympic team lived up to expectations, and left all their successors to be compared to that team. The Dream Team set the bar extremely high while spawning an international movement for the love of basketball, including each of the members of Team USA 2012. Now, twenty years later, people dispute whether Team 2012 team could beat The Dream Team? The answer should be a resounding yes.
Analysts assessed each member of The Dream Team while comparing them to each of the members of the 2012 team, as if to prove the individual talent will be the deciding factor when those teams were to square off in a theoretical world. This is a team-game, and after seeing how well Team 2012 played, analysts must reconsider their approach.
Additionally, analysts have referred to statistics. That is an awful way to determine how a team would face off against each other, since statistics cannot equate for the quality of competition the respective teams faced during their games to gain those statistics. The statistics cannot equate for how those teams would compete with one another on a given day.
Other analysts have mentioned the size advantage The Dream Team has over 2012, which is undeniable, as the reason why they would win. But again, those who presuppose that The Dream Team would actually run their offense through the big men, and that those big men would also be the more effective match-up on the court to spearhead a win is too presumptuous. Therefore, any such analysis should summarily fail because there is no way to know how the game would actually be played. Moreover, basketball, as it is played today (assuming today’s game is more effective), has virtually eradicated the big man because larger men have developed complete basketball skills.
One of the best arguments for why The Dream Team would win is that their team had greater competitors. That’s a great argument because that’s something that can only be debated in theory; and in theory, heart will prevail over talent during crunch time. The problem there is that analysts measured heart by the championships earned by each member of each team. This 2012 is younger and has many more years to go to earn those coveted championships to prove their heart. Thus, it is an unfair analysis. (Note, Clyde Drexler didn’t win his championships until after the 1992 Olympics, while Stockton, Malone, Barkley, Ewing, Mullin, and Laettner were unable to reach that achievement. Plus, Jordan and Pippen earned titles as teammates, while Magic and Bird scrapped and clawed for them against one another. David Robinson was able to reach the pinnacle when he became one of the Twin Towers with Tim Duncan.) This is not undermine The Dream Team’s greatness, nor should it undermine the championship-less 2012ers, who have years to earn their championships in a super-team-laden NBA.
So, once it is understood that no amalgam of factors can create a bright-line standard, it is necessary to move forward and think basketball. In honesty, it’s illogical to say what result would occur, but it is fun to debate.
The game has evolved. In general, today’s athletes are better than athletes of yesterday much like technology, which only gets better. For example, most of us objectively believe a MacBook is better than a desktop computer from 1992, which would be like saying 2012 players are better than players of 1992. Some may argue otherwise, but although people may like retro clothes and shoes like Jordans more than today’s clothes and shoes for style purposes, people would much rather perform their craft in the more advanced LeBrons. The advancement of technology does not always hold up in athletics as an analogy given that there are world records that still stand from years ago—but few—like Florence Griffith Joyner’s are exceptions to the rule. Maybe The Dream Team is that exception, but likely not.
Therefore, based on the way the game is being played today, one could assume it is better than how basketball was played then, in 1992. In general, to say that life or basketball was better in 1992 than 2012 is tantamount to saying life and basketball was better in 1972 than 1992 (please make the argument to hear how ridiculous you sound). In addition to the athletes being better, it is clear that the 2012 team would win on this theory. There are holes in this theory and is not enough to make an accurate determination of who would win, but it’s better than comparing players head-to-head.
Analysts should consider the respective competition 2012 played compared to that of The Dream Team. Looking to the body of work of Team USA 2012’s, in a new era of international basketball, will be extremely helpful. Under this view, please consider that The Dream Team is great without exception and nothing should be taken away from them for destroying each team put in front of them. But, the 2012 team played against tougher talent and teams. No team was in awe of the 2012ers, with maybe the exception of Tunisia. Team 2012 was prevented from intimidating their way to blow outs like The Dream Team. The world has caught up.
Team 2012 set multiple records in a game against a Nigerian team that beat Team 2012’s closest, score-wise, competitor in Lithuania (that should tell us something about how any one game can go and how talented all the Olympic teams actually were in 2012). That Nigerian team would have arguably been that best team The Dream Team would have played in 1992 as far as talent of player. Each member of the Nigerian team played in the United States, given most, if not all, grew up in the States.
The Nigerians not only had two NBA players, but every other player played at the NCAA Division-I level. The most recognizable of which was Tony Skinn who played on that legendary George Mason team that made the Final Four run, a few years ago. Additionally, those Nigerians who are not NBA players are international pros. The reason Team Nigeria was beaten so handily (an understatement) is because Team 2012 played one of the best offensive games ever witnessed on a basketball court. A person would be reasonable to partially fault the Nigerian coaching staff for allowing that type of game-flow. Nonetheless, Team 2012 beat an athletic, skilled, and seasoned Nigerian team by 83 points. The scoring difference would have beaten the Nigerians (wtf and lol). Sadly, if you have ever played a game like that, you know how hard it is to follow up that kind of performance, which is what happened against Lithuania.
In essence, Team 2012 did what no other team has ever done in the Olympics, which secured 2012’s greatness. That game was a consummate team performance, which indicates their greatness as a cohesive unit, and their ability to play together to win. Even with Carmelo Anthony’s American individual scoring record, there was no one person to stop that game—obviously. If Team 2012 shot the ball the way they did in the Nigerian-game against anyone else, then Team 2012 would win, even against The Dream Team. So, could Team 2012 beat The Dream Team? The answer: without a doubt!
Not only was the Nigerian team a very formidable team talent-wise, but every other team in the tournament was too. Most teams had at least one player being a recognizable NBA talent. Some teams such as France, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and Great Brittan had multiple. Team 2012, dismantled three of those teams, while finding themselves in an exhibition battle with Brazil (with 5 NBA players) and a gold medal challenge against Spain. Some of those players were integral parts of NBA championship teams (Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobli).
The competition that Team 2012 played was far superior to the competition The Dream Team faced while having very similar team numbers, for those who like statistics. This tournament and the following years to come will reveal that high level of talent that Team 2012 possesses, which prevents the theory that The Dream Team members are better individually. How many people mentioned that Anthony Davis is far better than Christian Laetner as a member of his team, and will be a much better pro? Yet, Davis had a hard time seeing the floor, but when he did he was dominant.
Let’s be honest too. Team 2012 is more athletic from top to bottom, and a better shooting team with better ball skills. John Stockton wouldn’t know what to do with Deron Williams. The advanced ball skills come with twenty plus years of evolution. For example, Kobe may not be “greater” than Jordan, but he is a better shooter, mid-range or otherwise although Jordan was more explosive. Kids are getting better training, at an earlier age, and have incredible access to information to better their games. Even though The Dream Team was a better passing team, it wouldn’t make up for their deficiencies to Team 2012 elsewhere. (The ability to pass players open is a lost art in the game today, with the exception of Nash and Jason Kidd.) Magic and Stockton are the greatest at that skill. Even if they are not the greatest –who is? Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Russell Westbrook are not better passers than those two. And, yes, LeBron is a good passer, but nothing like Magic. While this is true, Team 2012 was still able to assist at an incredible rate, and was statistically comparable to the “greatest team ever assembled in any sport.”
The Dream Team may also have the rebounding advantage, but definitely the better inside scoring presence. The NBA is devoid of scoring big men, outside of Andrew Bynum, and he is too shaky at times. Dwight Howard is a very athletic guy that has much work to do offensively. Team 2012 would have the advantage athletically and on the perimeter with speed and skill. The skill must be given to the perimeter players of Team 2012 since the entire team was comprised of mainly guards who showed the ability to be diverse in skill enough to play a myriad of positions.
If these teams were to square up in a time-travel supporting universe, the game would be decided by the prevailing style of play. The Dream Team would use their mixture of power and finesse while Team 2012 would use speed and sharp shooting. Which style wins? It would depend on the day.
One could assert that the difference in the game or games would come down to coaching. How will the coaches decide to play their guys, arrange defensive match-ups, and pace the game? After doing that, the coaches would have to play around with their line-ups to decide what would be best during the game. If Team 2012 was proving too hard to guard with their “smaller” yet faster line-up, The Dream Team would have to adapt by playing more guards. And, with the deeper amount of guards going to 2012 that would not bode well for The Dream Team. Now, if The Dream Team’s approach to basketball with a true power forward and center was proving to be successful, Coach K would be best served by sticking to his method in hopes that the 3-pointer and speed would eventually win-out, since Team 2012 does not have the personnel to match-up with size, although Love, LeBron, and Melo would be good match-ups at power forward.
It is useless to go through an analysis of each match-up to say who would out shine the other. But, please note that players of 2012 are of superior skill, although no one will say heart. Maybe it is true that the hearts of earlier generations are tougher. That is probably true since they had to do more with less and overcome greater obstacles in order to make life easier/better for the following generation. With that, you see that the following generations excel faster and go to greater heights, like Team 2012 showed us with their record-setting performances.
If you disagree, please visit the tapes of each team, or the tapes of each member of the respective teams, and you will see the difference in quality of skill. In assessing the tape of the players from the respective teams, a viewer would find that 2012 team members have more fluidity in ball handling, and greater ability to make tough shots, with the exception of maybe Jordan.
To say the game has not moved forward after twenty-years would be a complete insult to coaching, training, and nature. The members of Team 2012 have risen to the top in the most competitive era basketball has ever witnessed given The Dream Team members made basketball an incredibly popular sport to play world-wide.
After paying homage to The Dream Team, it is also necessary to respect the standard The Dream Team members set as basketball players. Team 2012 has met that standard as individuals, and some of the 2012 members have elevated the game. Kevin Durant is a prime example of that given he stands at 6’11” and plays the game like an excellent 6’2” guard. Another example is LeBron James, who is physically comparable to Karl Malone, but his game is that of a more skilled Oscar Robertson. People loved to make the Kobe-Jordan comparison all the time, and it can continue. Carmelo Anthony is another 6’9” guard with interior scoring ability, who is most like what Charles Barkley presented, but in a larger more efficient package given Melo’s ability to shoot and handle the ball. We all love The Dream Team. The hype and success of that team may never be matched, but on the court that team has been surpassed skill-wise by the Team USA 2012 players. Therefore, Team USA 2012 would beat The Dream Team.