By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns
Attempting to compare the 2012 United States Men’s Basketball roster to the legendary 1992 “Dream Team” would be like trying to comparing The Beatles to Mozart.
While The Beatles incorporated classical elements into their brand of progressive pop rock, there isn’t an accurate way to compare the definitive music from two entirely different eras.
Same goes for the growing debate over whether this generation of supremely talented ballers could hang with mythical “The Dream Team.”
The game of basketball itself has changed greatly since 1992. Training and nutrition has advanced. The level of talent in Europe and South America has improved in leaps and bounds over the past 20 years.
Kobe and LeBron Create Controversy
A case can be made that the more athletic 2012 team could beat “The Dream Team” in one game of a 7-game series. That’s certainly what Kobe Bryant was thinking earlier this summer.
“It would be a tough one, but I think we would pull it out,” Bryant said. “People who think we can’t beat that team for one game, they are crazy. To sit there and say we can’t, it’s ludicrous. We can beat them one time.”
LeBron James stirred-up controversy to a whole another level by declaring that their 2012 Olympic roster would win if they had the chance to match-up against the 1992 “Dream Team.”
“If we got the opportunity to play them in a game we feel like we would win, too,” James stated.
“Magic” and “His Airness” Respond
Magic Johnson recently admitted Bryant and James would “definitely make” the 1992 team, and that Kevin Durant “would have a shot.” That being said, Magic delivered a strong message to the 2012 team.
“They know we will crush them,” Johnson declared.
“For (LeBron) to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done,” Jordan said in response to James.
“I imagine he’s saying it to legitimize his own Dream Team,” Jordan explained. “To me it’s not even a question which team is better. They learned from us. We didn’t learn from them.”
Current USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski played down any comparisons of his group to the “Dream Team.”
“The Dream Team was not just about the Dream Team of ’92,” Krzyzewski said. “It was a collection of the greatest stars in the NBA over that decade and there will never be a team like that. In their prime all of those guys together would never be touched by any team.”
Sure, we’d all pay outrageous amounts of money if somehow scientists were able to travel back 20 years to borrow Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and the entire 1992 “Dream Team” so they could challenge the current U.S. Olympic roster.
Doc Brown isn’t going to be able to fit the entire 1992 team into his DeLorean DMC-12. He’d have to attach his flux capacitor to a tractor trailer and be able to get it up to 88 miles per hour.
Forget The Comparisons (At Least For Now…)
Enough with the comparisons, everybody. The 2012 Olympic team have their own challenges in front of them.
After a poor-shooting first quarter on Sunday, USA went on to cruise past France 98-71 in their 2012 Olympic opener. Kevin Durant exploded for 22 points against a French team filled with recognizable NBA faces such as Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum.
The United States’ next three opponents are Tunisia, Nigeria and Lithuania. It would be hardly surprising to see the Americans record 40-point blowouts over these unheralded opponents, but their final group game against Argentina will be a legitimate test.
Argentina’s core of Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni have played together at international level in various tournaments. They were members of the Argentina team that defeated USA on the path toward winning The Gold Medal at the 2004 Olympics.
Argentina has a talented group once again in 2012, but the United States’ “Redeem Team” defeated Argentina in the 2008 Olympic semifinals before capturing the gold.
The current United States roster appears to be on a collision course to eventually face Spain in the 2012 Gold Medal Game.
Spain boasts the Gasol brothers, Jose Calderon and Serge Ibaka. Had Ricky Rubio not torn his ACL and LCL ligaments in March, the Spaniards would have an even more impressive roster.
Should the United States defeat Spain to capture the Gold Medal, it will be more impressive than what “The Dream Team” accomplished on the court.
I’m not arguing over who was better than who, but if the U.S. are able to beat this formidable Spanish team — they will have earned the Gold over far more difficult opposition.
The Lithuanian and Croatian teams in the 1992 Olympics do not come anywhere near the talent level of the 2012 Spanish team.
Let’s just appreciate what the 2012 United States roster are doing now and save the comparisons for another day.
Would the 2012 USA team winning the Gold be more impressive than the accomplishments of “The Dream Team?” Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.