USA Basketball: Creating the Ultimate Starting 5 with Players from '92-'12
With all the buzz surrounding the comments made by current Team USA player Kobe Bryant stating that this year's Olympic basketball squad could beat the team from 1992 (per ProBasketballTalk.com), I pondered what the ultimate starting five would be if it were made up from players from '92 all the way through this year's squad.
With all the stars of the NBA that have graced the Olympic stage with their skills on the court, the decision at some positions is very tough, while others are no-brainers.
Without further ado, here is the ultimate starting lineup, comprised of the best-of-the-best USA basketball members to ever wear the red, white and blue in the Olympic games after professional players were allowed in.
Point Guard: Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, 1992 Olympic Member
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The one they call "Magic," Earvin Johnson was a tough pick as the starting point guard, but his size ultimately earned him the nod at the position.
At 6'9", Magic could not only handle the ball and pass with style, but he could also score, rebound and defend with the best of them.
Although Magic didn't get a chance to shine in the 1992 Olympics due to a knee injury, his resume leading up to those games speaks for itself.
Averaging 19.5 points, 11.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game in his 13-year NBA career, his all-around abilities are what made Magic special.
Being able to play multiple positions and still make his presence felt behind the ball is what made Johnson the sure-fire starter for the All-Olympic team.
Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan, 1992 Olympic Member
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Michael "Air" Jordan would be the shooting guard on the All-Olympic team post-1992, as being known has the greatest of all time makes the decision a no-brainer.
Jordan had a drive to win that one cannot learn, and he brought that drive out each and every game he played in his career.
Being a prolific scorer and a lock-down defender, Jordan played equally as tough on either side of the court.
His averages of 30.1 points, 5.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest are numbers that any NBA player would die for.
Sorry, Kobe, you can say all you want, but you will never be Jordan and the 2012 USA Team could not beat the 1992 team in one game or 100.
Small Forward: Larry Bird, 1992 Olympic Member
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Larry Bird was a dominant wing player that was just as comfortable at small forward as he was playing power forward.
Bird had a deadly three-point shot and wasn't afraid to get tough and gritty on the defensive end of the court.
At 6'9", being able to shoot the way he could would bring his man, normally a bigger player, out of the paint, helping his teammates have an easier time down low if he didn't take the three-point attempt.
Bird had stellar averages in his 13-year NBA career, compiling 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
No matter how you look at it, Bird is the obvious choice here, as his tenacious attitude on the court, coupled with his size and shooting ability, make him the perfect fit at the small forward spot.
Power Forward: LeBron James, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Member
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A three-time Olympic team member, LeBron James was a tough choice at the power forward position, but much like Magic Johnson, his versatility ultimately earned him the nod.
James, like Magic, has played anywhere from point guard to center in his NBA career, and that interchangeable quality would come in handy in Olympic competition.
James has incredible career averages of 27.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.7 steals per contest, making him an asset in many facets of the game.
LeBron beat out quite a few notable legends, such as Charles Barkley and Karl Malone to name a few, but James' overall game puts him above the competition and lands him a starting spot on the All-Olympic squad.
Center: Shaquille O'Neal, 1996 Olympic Member
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One of the most dominant centers of all time, Shaquille O'Neal beat out heavy competition to land as the starting center on the All-Olympic team post-1992.
Shaq's sheer size, and his will to get the ball inside and punish opposing defenders, makes him a force not many can match.
O'Neal posted great averages over his 19-year career, putting up 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
He beat out fellow NBA greats such as Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Patrick Ewing to name a few, and was definitely the toughest spot to fill in this entire list.