In the summer of 1992, the USA Men's Basketball Olympic Team, known as the greatest basketball team ever assembled, took the world by storm and swept their way to the Olympic gold in Barcelona.
Ever since then, the modern day USA Olympic teams have had to live in the shadow of that "Dream Team." While no squad has been able to live up to the collective performance of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the USA has won three more gold medals in the 20 years since the Dream Team's domination.
Let's take a look at the power rankings for every USA Olympic Team since 1992.
Whereas the 1992 squad was known as the Dream Team, the 2004 squad quickly gained the nickname as the Nightmare Team.
In the FIBA Americas Championship 2003, Team USA crushed the competition and easily won first place, earning a qualifying spot in Athens for 2004.
But that domination did not travel with the squad to Greece. The team, highlighted by Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and the youthful combination of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, were defeated in the first game of the tournament against Puerto Rico 92-73.
The team lost two more games and their three losses bumped them down to the bronze medal.
While the USA won its third consecutive medal, they were a Šarūnas Jasikevičius three-point miss away from defeat. In the semifinals against Lithuania, Team USA won by a close margin, 85-83, and would have lost if Jasikevičius had connected on the longball.
While the 2000 squad will forever be remembered thanks to Vince Carter’s famous dunk over Frédéric Weis, their sweep of the games was far closer than expected. Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd and Ray Allen led a team that, while they pulled off a gold medal, began to look distinctly beatable.
After the humiliation of 2004, interest and dedication to the 2008 Olympics rose to a fever pitch. Kobe Bryant, after not playing in 2004, highlighted a 2008 squad that also had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.
The squad, nicknamed “The Redeem Team,” cruised through the contests and finished with the gold and an 8-0 record. Their closest matchup was an 11-point win in the finals, 118-107, against Spain. Team USA won their eight matchups by an average of 27.8 points.
Consisting of many players from the original Dream Team, the 1996 squad easily rose to another gold medal with only a slightly diminished shine from the 1992 team. They became known as the second Dream Team, or Dream Team II.
Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson led a squad that was even bigger (in terms of size) than the 1992 squad, and USA went 5-0, outscoring their opponents by an average of 31.8 points a contest.
You can make the argument that the 2008 Redeem Team was the better squad, but the 1996 squad outscored their opponents by a bigger margin and still shone with an air of invincibility.
Plus, in a head-to-head matchup, the Dream Team II would beat the Redeem Team. Dream Team II arguably had five of the best big men to ever play the sport, and would crush the 2008 squad inside, as the Redeem Team had only Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh as their prominent bigs.