By Dennis Berry
The one thing you have to love about sports is the dream games we will never get to see. Debating which great team from different eras would win in a match up is common place.
Who would win between Bill Russell’s Celtics of the 1960’s and Michael Jordan’s Bulls of the 90’s?
Who would win between the 1972 UCLA Bruins and the 1992 Duke Blue Devils?
Even this past season Kentucky fans debated who would win between the 1996 Wildcats and the 2012 squad.
Even players do it too. This past week Kobe Bryant sparked the debate when he said the 2012 Olympic men’s basketball team could beat the 1992 Dream Team. It sparked much debate among basketball fans and the media.
As much as Bryant may believe his team could win a mythical game, the truth is they could not beat the original Dream Team.
The first problem the 2012 squad would have with the 1992 squad is the size difference. The 1992 team has better low post players than the 2012 team. Injuries have been a huge factor for this year’s team as well.
The 1992 team featured David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley. All four of those players were in the prime of their careers. Looking at their stats from the 1991-92 season gives you a better idea of the level they were playing.
In the 91-92 season Ewing averaged 24 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3 blocks a game. Robinson averaged 23.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks a game. Malone averaged 28 points and 11.2 rebounds a game. Barkley averaged 23.1 points and 11.1 points a game.
The 2012 squad's big men have been limited because of injuries. They are missing Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin. That leaves them with Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, and Anthony Davis for big men. That will mean that Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski will probably use LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in the post.
The 1992 team would have the advantage on offense and defense.
Outside of Tyson Chandler, the 2012 team cannot match up defensively against the 1992 squad. Even Chandler would be at a disadvantage because the 1992 team would go right at him to get him in foul trouble. Without Chandler in the post, that would leave the 2012 team with an outmatched Love versus Robinson or Ewing and possibly force guys like James, Durant, or Andre Iguodala to guard Malone.
The 2012’s limited offensive low post game would also hurt them. Whoever was guarding Chandler would have free range to roam defensively. Their only option would be to spread the floor and keep the 1992’s big men away from the basket.
Another argument that supporters of the 2012 team want to use is the age factor. They want to point out that the older 1992 team could not hang with this year’s younger team. They like to point out the age of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
While it is true that Bird and Johnson were at the end of their careers, they were the only ones that were. The rest were in their primes. Bird and Johnson would only have to play spot minutes to help the 1992 team. The 1992 team would mainly use Ewing, Robinson, Barkley, Malone, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullen, and Michael Jordan.
The only players that the 2012 squad could offer that are on that list of players' level would be Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. The rest of the 2012 squad would be overmatched by the 1992 team.
The next factor that would lead to a 1992 team win: Michael Jordan. The 1992 team has the best player to ever play the game. He was in the prime of his career in 1992 and coming off his second NBA title.
As good as Kobe Bryant is he will be 33 years old going into this Olympics. He would be no match up for a 29 year-old Jordan. On offense he was at his best. He was able to get to the basket at will. Defensively he was one of the best perimeter defenders in the game.
He would find some way to take the match up personally. During the 1992 Olympics, Jordan was more interested in golf than the games. A match-up like this would get Jordan’s attention as another way to prove that he was the best player in the game.
As much as Bryant keeps saying that this Olympic team could beat the Dream Team, in the end it is just talk.