The 1992 Dream Team was without a doubt one of the best and most dominant groups of NBA players we've ever seen in Olympic history.
We may never see another USA men's team be as dominant as the original Dream Team was, but that's not because every other USA team won't be as talented—both individually and collectively speaking.
It's because the international culture is extremely different today, both on and off the court.
Back in 1992, during warmups opposing teams would stop and ask members of the Dream Team to pose for pictures with them, as reported by SI.com. That kind of fanfare by opponents might seem like something that shouldn't impact the play on the court, and it didn't directly.
Indirectly, though, that kind of adoration of the Dream Team displayed just how disconnected the international world of basketball was from the success and fame of the NBA.
Back in 1992, there were fewer than 20 international players in the NBA, and the cream of the crop were players like Detlef Schrempf and Tony Kukoc. Those players were good, but they are nowhere near the level of international talent that exists in the NBA today.
Today there are over 60 international players in the NBA, and a majority of them are legitimate superstars.
Players like Tony Parker, Nene Hilario, Luol Deng, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Luis Scola, Jose Calderon, Marc Gasol, Andrew Bogut, Al Horford, Serge Ibaka and Pau Gasol headline the international talent today—and those players are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to star-level international talent.
Would the 1992 Dream Team dominate today's international talent like they did in 1992?
The international players in 1992 were just as infatuated with the Dream Team as we are today, and that has distorted the way we view the original Dream Team.
We hold them in such a high regard based on their dominance, but that is an incomplete perspective because, realistically, the international talent in 1992 isn't anywhere close to the same level as the international talent the 2012 team will be facing over the next few weeks.
In 1992, the international world wasn't as in love with the game of basketball as it is today, and that certainly lessened the level of competition for international players trying to become legitimate players in the NBA.
Basketball, as an international sport, is growing. Now countries other than the USA are putting out extremely competitive teams in the Olympic Games, and that's something that can't be said for the game of basketball back in 1992.
We need to stop asking if the 2012 USA men's Olympic team could beat the 1992 Dream Team, because talent-wise, the teams are extremely similar.
The question we need to be asking is if the 1992 Dream Team could dominate like it did in 1992 against the international talent that exists today.