Saturday, July 14, 2012

Breaking down 2012 vs 1992 dream team: Who wins?

By Kshell

This past week Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant made the controversial statement that this 2012 U.S. men's olympic basketball team could defeat the vaunted 1992 "Dream Team" which featured 11 NBA hall of famers and became the first team inducted into the basketball hall of fame. That statement of course caused some back lash from the 1992 members in particular Michael Jordan who found the comments laughable and Scottie Pippen who said the 1992 team would defeat this team by 25 points. In this upcoming post I'll break down the teams and give some perspective of how the players were at the time of the games. I actually think this hypothetical game would be a lot closer than many want to believe. What is hurting the 2012 team is the fact the 1992 team was so dominant, has some legendary names, everything in the past is viewed as being better than the present and more importantly injuries. The 2012 team is without Dwight Howard(6-time all-star, 3-time defensive player of the year, 5-time first-team all-nba, 4-time first-team all defensive) , Derrick Rose(NBA MVP, Rookie of the year, 3-time all-star, first-team all NBA), Dwyane Wade(8-time all-star, NBA Finals MVP, all-star game MVP, 2-time first-team all-nba) and Chris Bosh(7-time all-star). Howard, Wade, and Bosh all helped team USA win Olympic gold in 2008 while Rose helped team USA win the World Championships in 2010. If those four were on this current team that would make the game interesting and I'd maybe take the 2012 team to win. Now that we have established those guys aren't on the team we'll still break down both rosters.

This current squad I'll break it down by how I'd have the starting lineup. At point guard you'd have Chris Paul who just made the all-star team this year, was first-team all-nba and first-team all defensive. He also finished third in the MVP vote. In his career he has made five all-star games, won the rookie of the year, been selected first-team all defensive twice and been selected first-team all-nba twice. At shooting guard you'd have Kobe Bryant who also made the all-star team, was selected first-team all-NBA, second-team all defensive and finished 4th in the MVP race. In his career Bryant has been named to 14 all-star games, has won the MVP award, was NBA Finals MVP twice during his five NBA championships. He has been all-star game MVP four times, been selected first-team all-NBA 10 times, first-team all defensive team nine times and has won two scoring titles. At small forward I'd go with Kevin Durant who also made the all-star team, was selected first-team all-NBA, was All-Star game MVP, won another scoring title and was 2nd in the MVP race. Durant has made three all-star games, won three scoring titles, won the Rookie of the Year and was first-team all-NBA three times. Then at power forward I'd start Lebron James who is in his prime right now coming off an all-star game appearance, winning another MVP award, finally winning his first NBA championship where he was finals MVP, was named first-team all-NBA and first-team all defensive team as well. For his career James has been selected to eight all-star games, won the rookie of the year, has been a three-time MVP selection, two-time all-star game MVP, six-time first-team all-nba, and four-time first-team defensive selection. Rounding out my five would be center Kevin Love(remember no Howard) who made the all-star game this past year and was second-team all-nba. He has been to two all-star games and won most improved player.

I think the 2012 starting five can stack up with the 1992 starting five if not be better than the 1992 starting five. The problem is the bench for 2012 isn't very deep at all. The bench consists of forward Carmelo Anthony who made the all-star game this past year and was selected third-team all-nba. He has made five all-star games in his career. Center Tyson Chandler who is actually starting in these games just won the NBA defensive player of the year award and was second-team all defensive this past year. He was also third-team all-NBA. He also won a championship the year prior with the Dallas Mavericks as their starting center. Point guard Deron Williams is coming off of another all-star game appearance and is a three-time all-star. Russell Westbrook was an all-star and named second-team all-NBA this past year in helping lead OKC to the NBA finals. He has made two all-star games so far in his brief career. Teammate guard/forward James Harden also made the team and just won the sixth man of the year award. Andre Iguoudala was just selected to his first all-star game this past season. Recently dropping out was forward Blake Griffin who made the all-star team for the second straight year and was selected second-team all-NBA. He also won the rookie of the year award last season. Taking his spot is #1 pick overall from national champion Kentucky Wildcats Anthony Davis who just won the college basketball player of the year award.

Now the 1992 squad which features 11 hall of famers has a pretty hefty resume as well. I'm only going to mention their resume as of 1992 so keep in mind these numbers are from then. At point guard I'd start Magic Johnson who didn't play the previous season due to being HIV positive. He did however win the all-star game MVP in 1992. In his career he was selected to 12 all-star games, won the MVP award three times, won Finals MVP three times as he won five championships, was all-star game MVP twice and selected first-team all-NBA nine times. At shooting guard I have Michael Jordan who was in his prime. Jordan was selected to the all-star game, won another MVP award, another scoring title, won another Finals MVP, was first-team all-nba once again and first-team all defensive once again. His career up until that point saw him go to eight all-star games, win the rookie of the year, win three MVP's, win two Finals MVP's as he had won two titles, all-star game MVP, defensive player of the year, six scoring titles, six-time all-nba first-team, five-time all defensive team first team. At small forward I'd start Clyde Drexler who was an all-star, was selected first-team all-NBA leading the Blazers to their second NBA finals in three years, and he finished second in the MVP race that season. Drexler was a six-time all-star and was first-team all-nba once. At power forward I'd start Karl Malone who was an all-star, first-team all-NBA and finished 4th in the MVP voting. Malone was a five-time all-star, all-star game MVP and been first-team all-nba four times. At center the 1992 squad would start David Robinson who was selected to the all-star team, was first-team all-nba, first-team all defensive team, defensive player of the year and finished 3rd in the MVP race heading into the Olympic games. For his career he had been selected to three all-star games, won rookie of the year, won defensive player of the year, was twice selected first-team all-nba and all defensive team.

This is where the 1992 team would have the major edge is the bench production as they have some real fire power off the bench. Leading the bench would be Charles Barkley who was selected to the all-star game, was second-team all-nba. Barkley was a six-time all-star, all-star game MVP and four times selected first-team all-nba. Scottie Pippen was also an all-star, was second-team all-nba, first-team all defensive team. Pippen had won two NBA titles with the Bulls and had made two all-star games. At center they also had Patrick Ewing who was selected to the all-star team, was second team all-nba and all defensive team. He also finished fifth in the NBA voting. At forward Larry Bird who was an all-star but had only played in 45 games. Bird was a 12-time all-star, rookie of the year, won three straight MVP awards, two-time finals MVP as he won three titles, all-star game MVP and was selected first-team all-NBA nine times. Forward Chris Mullin had his best season as he was selected to the all-star team and was first-team all-nba finishing sixth in the MVP vote. He was also a four-time all-star in his career. John Stockton was an all-star that year as he was selected second team all-nba and all defense. He was a four-time all-star. The final selection was college star Christian Laettner from Duke who was the college basketball player of the year as he led the Duke Blue Devils to their second straight national championship.

The 1992 team has a deeper roster and the greatest player to have ever played the game in his prime in Michael Jordan. So how does the 2012 team even compete? Well I think the 2012 team has the next three best players in  Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant on their roster. In the case of James and Durant there is nobody who can guard either one as they are freaks of the game. Durant is a 6'10" forward who can bomb three's away from anywhere on the court, while Lebron James is a 6'8" 240 lb guy who averages 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists for his career. As for Bryant he is still make first-team all-nba selections and has missed only two all-star games in his career which was his rookie season and 1999 which was cancelled due to a players strike. Under my lineup for now Magic who was retired would have to cover Chris Paul who is quick which always gave Magic problems, Jordan would be able to lock up Bryant but Bryant led the 2008 Olympics in assists so he'd realize that. Drexler who was never known for his defense would be forced to guard Durant which would spell trouble for the 1992 squad while Malone would have to guard James. James is at the point in his career like Jordan was where you can't guard him. Even Robinson would have trouble with Love who is a perimeter center. The 1992 team was never challenged so we never saw their weaknesses but covering this athletic perimeter team of the 2012 squad would give them trouble.

Eventually the 1992 team would have to make a counter move which would be to swap Magic out for Pippen and swap Drexler out for Barkley. Have Pippen run the point forward. Sure Durant will still go off but now you put the 2012 team in a hole that forces them to pull Chris Paul as he has nobody he can guard. Who is Durant going to guard? Barkley or Malone? Good luck there. Who is going to guard David Robinson who is just entering  his prime? If 2012 puts in Chandler to guard him then 92' can float Robinson as Chandler isn't a threat to score. Even though Bird and Magic were just names at that point with Stockton out due to a broken leg the 92' team was deeper. I have yet to even mention Mullin who was first-team all-nba that year or Patrick Ewing who was also in his prime. Ewing who I believe is better than Dwight Howard and I know David Robinson is. The 12' team could hang with the 92' team but I see the 92' team pulling away as the game progresses with their depth and winning by 10-15 points.

Two things in my life as a sports fan I just barely missed out on due to my age(born in 1985) that I regret. One was the 1991 Washington Huskies national championship team. I would have loved to have enjoyed that season live as it happened. The other is the 1992 Dream Team which changed basketball forever as the world saw first hand the greatness of men's basketball. Due to those games guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, both Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka have grown to love the game of basketball. There will never be a dream team in our lifetime ever again as these guys were all all-stars that season. The 1992 team had the star power that this team has as well but it's not the same. If Howard, Wade, Bosh and Rose were healthy then this 2012 team could compete and perhaps even win. Since they don't the 1992 team would win the game. I learned back in 1998 as well never bet against Michael Jordan especially a Jordan in his prime. This 2012 team should start worrying more about Spain and France as there is no guarantee this team will win the gold. While the 1992 team won the gold the minute their plane landed in Barcelona, Spain.

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