Thursday evening in Las Vegas, Nevada, Team USA Basketball demonstrated why they are the team to beat in the London 2012 Olympics by easily defeating the Dominican Republic in a pre-Olympic game by a score of 113-59. Kevin Durant led the rout with 24 points; Andre Iguodala scored 18.
Recently, however, there has been much hype surrounding this 2012 U.S. Men’s Basketball Team due to a statement from Kobe Bryant claiming that the team could undoubtedly beat the “Dream Team” of 1992. Are you kidding me, Kobe?
Not only am I highly confident that the “Dream Team” could handily take care of the 2012 team, but also I doubt at least half of the current team would have even made the Olympic team in 1992.
Instead of doing a player-by-player analysis, if the current U.S. roster time traveled back to 1992 and joined the “Dream Team” in tryouts for the Olympic team, which twelve would make it? Below are my picks:
(1) PG Magic Johnson:
Given his almost career triple-double averages (19.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, 11.2 assists per game), Magic is the obvious choice for the job. There is no real competition, here.
(2) SG Michael Jordan:
There is not even one doubt in my mind that I would choose Jordan to be my starting shooting guard. Averaging over 30 points per game in his career, Jordan is the best player to have ever played the game.
(3) SF LeBron James:
The only member of the 2012 Olympic team to make the starting lineup is LeBron due to his dominance in today's basketball. Although typically he would be probably be a power forward, his dynamic gameplay allows him to practically play any position on the court while giving him the edge over Larry Bird and Scottie Pippen for the starting spot.
(4) PF Charles Barkley:
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006, Barkley averaged well over a double-double over his career (22.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg). Although he is shorter than LeBron, he is not as dynamic, and thus better fit to play where he is comfortable: power forward. He has the edge over Karl Malone.
(5) C Patrick Ewing:
Rounding out the starting lineup is Ewing, who put up fantastic numbers in the NBA leading up to the 1992 Olympics (26.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg). He and David Robinson are both all-star players, but I give Ewing the edge simply because I am a Knicks fan.
Bench (in order of position):
(6) PG John Stockton:
Hall of Famer - Career: 13.1 ppg, 10.5 apg; 1991-1992: 15.8 ppg, 13.7 apg, 3.0 steals per game
(7) SG Kobe Bryant:
Career: 25.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.7 apg; 2011-2012: 27.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.6 apg
(8) SF Scottie Pippen:
Hall of Famer - Career: 16.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.2 apg; 1991-1992: 21.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 7.0 apg
(9) SF Larry Bird:
(10) SF Kevin Durant:
Career: 26.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.8 apg; 2011-2012: 28.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.5 apg
(11) PF Karl Malone:
Hall of Famer - Career: 25.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.6 apg; 1991-1992: 28.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 3.0 apg
(12) C David Robinson:
Hall of Famer - Career: 21.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg; 1991-1992: 23.2 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 4.5 blocks per game
(13) PG Chris Paul:
Although he is the starting point guard of this year's Olympic team, Paul just does not cut it to make it onto the team. By comparing Paul's 2011-2012 statistics (19.8 ppg, 9.1 apg) to Stockton's (above), Stockton has the edge, in my opinion.
(14) PF Carmelo Anthony:
Due to the strong crop of forwards from the 1992 (Barkley, Pippen, Bird, Malone), there is just no spot for Anthony on the team even though he will most likely be starting for the U.S. Team in London.