2012 USA Basketball: How This Year's Squad Stacks Up to the Original Dream Team
I hope you are enjoying this shortened, often-criticized NBA season. However, if you would, please take one thing away from it: This summer, all of your favorite superstars will be competing on one team together.
That's right. It's time for the United States of America to reassert it's dominance in this growing phenomenon that is the beautiful world of basketball. Global competiton reaches new heights every day, as more and more foreign players are having success in the NBA.
From "Linsanity's" roots in Taiwan to Ricky Rubio's native Spain, and even south to Argentina, from where Manu Ginoboli hails, basketball is quickly becoming a globally competitive sport.
Unfortunately for the rest of the world, USA Basketball is set to have another unbelievably talented squad.
They are so talented that there is only one team to compare them to: the 1992 USA Olympic "Dream Team."
Here is an in-depth look at how the 2012 conglomerate stacks up against that awesome 1992 squad...
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
2012 Starter: Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
Reigning NBA league MVP Derrick Rose will most likely start at point guard for the stars and stripes in London this summer. However, his playing time will be shared with unmatched talent from the bench.
1992 Starter: Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers)
Venture back to '92, and you'll remember Magic's dramatic return to the hardwood during the All-Star Game, following a heavy transition from superstar to HIV positive in 1991. Many feared Magic would simply get skinny and die in the public eye. But, as only Magic could, he returned to join the "Dream Team" in Barcelona and play in all eight games.
2012 Bench: Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), and/or Deron Williams (New Jersey Nets)
Having CP3 and Russell Westbrook coming off the bench makes Rose's job very easy, and I'm sure the MVP award will give him the seniority to start the games. However, there is still speculation that 2008 team member Deron Williams will join the squad, all depending on who is healthy.
1992 Bench: John Stockton (Utah Jazz)
During the '92 games, Stockton only played four games, sinking four baskets and dishing out eight assists.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
2012 Starter: Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Despite what is said about the 33-year-old Black Mamba, he certainly has a couple of years left in his tank. Kobe is the ultimate competitor and can only be compared to one player: MJ.
1992 Starter: Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)
Jordan was the only member other than Magic to start all eight games in Barcelona, averaging 15 points per game—none more memorable than this jam.
2012 Bench: Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
Unless Kobe opts out of this year's summer games, Wade will be backing him up. Wade is no stranger to this, however, having been a member of the 2008 Olympic "Redeem Team" in Beijing. He led the team in scoring during three games, including 27 points in the gold-medal game.
1992 Bench: Clyde Drexler (Portland Trail Blazers)
With such a roster, superstars like Clyde Drexler didn't stand out too much. The 10-time All-Star played in all eight games, starting three, and averaged over 10 points per game.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
2012 Starter: LeBron James (Miami Heat)
King James is the purest athlete professional sports has to offer. He started all eight games for the 2008 "Redeem Team" and played completely unselfishly. He was the highest scorer for only one game, averaging 15.5 points and dishing out 30 assists. Only CP3 had more assists in the '08 Games (33).
1992 Starter: Scottie Pippen (Chicago Bulls)
According to Scottie, LeBron has the ability to be "the greatest player ever." Seeing as how Pippen won six NBA championship rings with Jordan, I'd say he knows how to compare James to Jordan better than anyone.
In Barcelona, Pippen played all eight games (started three), averaging nine points per game.
2012 Bench: Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers)
Let's just hope 'Melo will play hard with Old Glory on his back. Aside from Carmelo, other possibilities include 76ers standout Andre Iguodala or 2008 team member Chris Bosh.
1992 Bench: Larry Bird (Boston Celtics); Chris Mullin (Golden State Warriors)
Bird's modest take on the team was very simple: "...we had some pretty good players."
Chris "Chalk" Mullin was perhaps the most underrated player on the '92 squad, and understandably so. Mullin had outstanding success with the Golden State Warriors, is a recent member of the Hall of Fame and just had his No. 17 Jersey retired by the Warriors franchise.
2012 Starter: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Durant is the epitome of a basketball junkie—a terrific competitor with killer confidence to dominate any opponent in his way.
1992 Starter: Charles Barkley (Philadelphia 76ers)
Back in 1992, the Round Mound of Rebound surprisingly ended the tournament as the team leader in points per game.
2012 Bench: Chris Bosh (Miami Heat); and/or Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
I'm sure all of the world wouldn't mind watching the USA let "Lob City" run wild in London.
1992 Bench: Karl Malone (Utah Jazz); Christian Laettner (Duke Blue Devils)
Backing up Barkley in 1992 were "The Mailman" from the Utah Jazz and Duke University standout Christian Laettner. Laettner was the only member of the team not affiliated with an NBA team.
The Mailman was a two-time NBA MVP, a 14-time All-Star and led the Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. Most importantly, Malone is the second-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing his career in 2004 with 36,928 points.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
2012 Starter: Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)
By the time of the Olympics, who knows which NBA franchise superstar Dwight Howard will play for, but as long as he is starting for Uncle Sam, I sure won't be complaining. Howard dominated during the 2008 undefeated gold-medal run along with Kobe, LeBron, Wade, 'Melo, CP3 and Bosh. And he most certainly will be the most dominant center in the upcoming Olympics.
1992 Starter: David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs)
Robinson and Patrick Ewing both started four games apiece, each averaging around five rebounds per game over the eight-game run.
2012 Bench: Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves); LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers); and/or Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks)
There are three possibilities to join the team—all unbelievable talents in three-point shooting champion and double-double machine Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Linsanity's best friend, Tyson Chandler.
1992 Bench: Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
In probably one of the easiest jobs ever, 1992 Olympic Basketball coach Chuck Daly led the squad to an undefeated 8-0, bringing home the 10th gold medal in USA Olympic Basketball history.
The Late Chuck Daly
College: Boston College, Pennsylvania over eight seasons: 151-62 record
NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic over 14 seasons: 638-437 record
International: 1992 Dream Team, 8-0 record
Alongside coach Daly were three assistant coaches in Lenny Wilkens, P.J. Carlesimo and current USA Olympic head coach Coach K.
Duke University: All-time NCAA record 927 Wins (.762 win percentage) over 31 seasons. That's pretty good.
International: Head coach (1987, 1990, 2006-present), three-time assistant coach (1979, 1984, 1992)
Historic Scrimmage (Monte Carlo)
Mike Powell/Getty Images
In an interview with ESPN's Bill Simmons, as a prelude to the airing of The Announcement—the Magic Johnson HIV story—Simmons talked about the long-time rivalry and friendship with Celtics legend Larry Bird, as well as their eventual meeting on the Dream Team in 1992.
Magic continued to explain how, after discovering he was HIV positive, "This was sort of my last shot," in regard to joining the other legends on the Dream Team.
One story I will never forget is what Magic described as, "This one scrimmage in particular was the greatest basketball I have ever played in in my life."
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|Michael Jordan||Magic Johnson|
|Patrick Ewing||Clyde Drexler|
|Charles Barkley||Karl Malone|
|Larry Bird||John Stockton|
|Scottie Pippen||David Robinson|
|Christian Laettner||Chris Mullin|
According to Magic, "Egos came into play...nobody wanted the other guy to take advantage of him."
The competition from the '92 NBA Finals between MJ and Clyde Drexler had not been forgotten.
"Just greatness going back and forth at each other."
Margin of Victory
Mike Powell/Getty Images
1992 USA Results (8-0)
Average margin of victory: 43.75 points