Similar to the unsurprising domination by Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt in these London Olympic Games, the 2012 USA Basketball Team won gold and did what was expected of them – beat the world. The real question was not IF they won but HOW they did it, and ultimately whether or not they could ever challenge the supremacy of their 1992 counterparts, the Dream Team. So obviously there is only one way to settle the score once and for all: create in our minds a pseudo timeline of how the dream game would go down if played in present time. We will keep all litigating factors in check – basing this on Kobe, Magic and Bird’s age while on the team, the reality that the 2012 team is missing guys like Dwight, Blake, and Wade and making it very clear, by only referring to one of them as the “Dream Team”. Let’s delve in, shall we?
To make this fair it would probably have to be played at a neutral city and gym, knowing David Stern was and still is commissioner of the league, he would have it played in New Orleans. Because this is my article, we will balance the basketball world out and have the greatest game ever played at Key Arena in Seattle with all old Sonic season ticket holders getting first dibs on tickets. In the theme of bridging both eras, the game will be telecast on NBC with the old theme song that we all miss, but called by current play-by-play analyst Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy. Actually, we’re adding Bill Walton in the mix to have as close a “Dumb and Dumber” sequel as we can with him and Van Gundy ranting about the new Dark Knight movie. We’ll have Ahmad Rashad as the ’92 sideline reporter and David Aldridge on the ’12 side, Will Ferrell announcing the starting line-ups, Beyonce singing the anthem, and Gary Payton tossing up the honorary jump ball.
1992 Dream Team
2012 USA Basketball Team
The first quarter would have 2012 jump out quick with Kevin Durant hitting everything from everywhere and the rush of playing against the Dream Team would fuel their adrenaline over the first five minutes. ’92 would settle the storm with Barkley starting off hot, and dropping open fifteen footers with Magic taking advantage of Paul in the post, forcing 2012 to double which brings us to the first TV break with three minutes remaining, 2012 up 18-12.
There are three matchups I would die to see in the opening line ups alone, Jordan and Kobe being the most attractive of course. But just an inch behind would be Scottie Pippen and Kevin Durant, what I would do to have a seven game series between those two guys. For those born in the 90’s, there were no two better perimeter defenders than Jordan/Pippen, it was to the point that I am sure MJ kept pressuring Scottie to bet a lot of money every night who held their checks to the
Returning from commercials, NBC cuts to a shot of Derrick Rose watching the game in the locker room with his typical spaced out glare. I really can’t help but feel for him, going from the highest of highs, to rock bottom. Watching Rondo and KD trying to take down the Heat must have killed him knowing his team was best equipped to do it. And if the reports are true that he won’t be back until March next year (a month before the season ends), would it be crazy to pull a ’98 Spurs and tank the season to get a lottery pick next year?
The first quarter ends with 92’ going on a 10-4 run, MJ starts to impose his will, getting to the free throw line and David Robinson adding a spark off the bench protecting the basket and running the floor. Deron Williams in for Paul to give Magic a tougher assignment size-wise and pressures him relentlessly driving to the rim, but can’t finish with Robinson and Pippen lurking around the court.
The argument against 2012 in this matchup is their lack of size, which is completely the case. Not only did 92’s big men play big, but they were athletic as hell. Between the likes of Karl Malone, David Robinson, and Charles Barkley they were three of the strongest players in the league during the 90’s and could still maneuver their bodies to make tough shots around the basket. I remember watching Barkley one time at a Grizzlies game, the first time he boxed out Othella Harrington in the paint, Othella looked like he wanted to crawl under a rock and die. He knew that night was going to be long and strenuous; he kept bending over grabbing his shorts and had a look by the end of the game that he wanted Rockets players to hit the shots just so he didn’t have to bang with the Sir Charles anymore. I remember turning to my dad asking “what’s wrong with Harrington?” he replied “nothing, he’s just a wimp and Barkley is playing like a man.”
1992 Dream Team
2012 USA Basketball Team
Dream Team comes out strong to start the second, Stockton/Malone pick n’ rolls, Jordan backing down Westbrook in the post, Robinson with offensive boards and Bird dropping three trey balls well aware that he’s in there for a quick five minute spurt.
Larry Legend has expressed his respect for Kobe and Lebron multiple times, even saying that he would choose Kobe over anyone in today’s game to play with, but he would absolutely dissect Anthony in this matchup. Once Melo started running his mouth after draining a step back jumper, Bird would go into full fledged “fuck you” mode and respond with a series of moves. Imagine sitting in the back yard at a BBQ with a beer in one hand, and shooting from the patio to your nephews plastic hoop, that’s how easy Larry made it look, , if you have the other team’s bench wildn’ out?! (5:00 mark) You’re good.
The second quarter is high paced with a combination of different line ups highlighted by:
- DWill and Bron doing their best Stockton/Malone impression for three straight plays
- MJ getting into Westbrook’s head so bad that Russell does this (click on Westbrook below), after he gets the travelling call on him.
- In the funniest minute and a half of the first half, Christian Laettner and Anthony Davis go head to head in the battle of college player supremacy with twenty other Hall of Famers stepping back and laughing.
If you search the top ten songs of 1992, it will include Boyz II Men, Kris Kross, and TLC, so a medley of those three performers would be fitting; only Kris Kross (now in their mid-30’s) would have to ice their knees afterwards, include a hologram Left-Eye and lead into ‘Ye/Jay debuting their new Throne track for the 2012 contingent.
This is when the game settles down, both teams weary of turning the ball over knowing how explosive each team is, a lot more fouls to ensure no easy buckets, and the stars try to leave their print on the game. Kobe is the X-Factor for this game, leading up to Wednesday’s elimination round action he has been inconsistent, and almost unwilling to let go of his “top dog” status, summed up best by an ESPN analyst’s tweet, “Lebron and KD continue to clean up Kobe’s mess”. But if there is anyone brave enough to stand up to MJ in his prime, rally his group of young guns to fight back, and willing to take the eleventh shot in a crucial moment after missing the previous ten – it’s Kobe. He isn’t the next Jordan, but he’s the closest one.