People have been asking me why haven’t I taken the time to sit down and thoroughly dissect the chances of the 2012 Olympic team beating the 1992 team. Isn’t it tempting? Kobe vs. Jordan! LeBron vs. everyone else! Yes people, I feel your need for someone with real basketball knowledge to tackle this, not talking heads.
So who would win: The 1992 Dream Team or The 2012 Keep Dreaming Team?
The answer, my friends, is fairly simple: WHICH TEAM WAS MICHAEL JORDAN ON?
The original Dream Team featured the greatest basketball player of all time at his absolute mega-apex. To be clear, “mega-apex” isn’t a word. You can’t have a mega-apex. In the summer of 1992, however, Jordan was experiencing a mega-apex. Nobody has ever been better at basketball than Michael Jordan in 1992—he submitted the rich man’s version of the year LeBron just wrapped up (right down to the hardware). He also happened to be homicidally competitive, quite possibly the most ruthless athlete in the history of team sports. Jordan loved beating people so much that he couldn’t stop doing it. He had to beat people at everything: golf, poker, half-court shots, even whose bag came out first in baggage claim.
So if we’re having a hypothetical “1992 vs. 2012” conversation, that means we’re convening the Dream Team in August of 1992 and telling them, “Hey, fellas? We just built you a time machine. We’re traveling 20 years into the future so you can play America’s 2012 team—these guys are really good; more than a few people even think they can beat you guys.”
That’s when 1992 Jordan tries to fight off a sarcastic smirk and says, “Really? I’d love to hear more. Tell me a little about these guys.”
“Well, they have someone named LeBron who’s the best basketball player since you. They have someone named Durant who’s an even better shooter than Larry Bird in his prime. They have a guy named Kobe who’s probably the best 2-guard since you—he’s near the end of his career, though. Their point guards are really good. They have incredible outside shooting—the 3-point line is too short for them. And they’re extremely athletic.”
That’s when Michael says, “Sounds interesting. Who are their centers?”
“Well, that’s their weak spot—they don’t really have any centers. They don’t have a low-post game at all. Or anyone to protect the rim. They basically play small ball and shoot 3s.”
And that’s when Michael starts laughing, asks for directions to the time machine, and wonders aloud if his golf clubs will make it through time travel. So much for even a discussion.
Important note: Had Dwight Howard played in the Olympics, you might have been able to coerce me into a “1992 vs. 2012” discussion. But after watching Pau Gasol pick open the 2012 team’s small-ball scab with a shrimp fork for two hours, it’s just not happening—we can’t waste 6,000 words wondering if Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron could have handled Barkley, Malone, Robinson and Ewing down low, much less if their teammates could have slowed down Jordan and Scottie Pippen during the most devastating two-way peak of their alliance.
The 1992 team wasn’t losing to a gimmick like small ball. And 1992 MJ wasn’t losing, PERIOD. Let’s just move on before I get pissy.
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