Magic Johnson, according to the Los Angeles Times, acknowledges that LeBron James and Kobe Bryant would have made the ’92 Dream Team, even though he added a backdoor comment as to why the 2012 version of Team USA would have no chance to beat them.
"You have to say Kobe would definitely make it," Johnson said. "He's unbelievable. We're so lucky and so fortunate we get a chance to watch Kobe play every single night here in L.A. LeBron is the best all-around player in the game so he would definitely make our team. Kevin Durant would have a shot as well. You have two definitely in with Kobe and LeBron."
Johnson goes on to acknowledge that James and Bryant would likely replace Christian Laettner, the only college player selected to the ’92 team, but that is all. Realizing that Bryant would have had to battle the likes of Michael Jordan for playing time on the team, the question stands, “Who else could James eliminate?”
With a wide array of Team USA’s frontcourt diminished due to injury, James has stepped up in ways that his earlier moments in the league could not have predicted. So much size was lost when it was announced that Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin would not be partaking in the Olympic festivities that the question was posed as to how dominant this roster could be.
Thanks to James, a lot of the disparity that came along with those announced absences has been elapsed.
Surely he could do the same had he been a topic in 1992.
For a while, it seemed as if LeBron would be joining the conversation of one of the greatest players in the NBA to have never won a ring right along with Karl Malone. Thankfully for the Miami Heat, James crossed the broadest threshold of his career, something Malone was never successful at.
James also has been triumphant in being a better person than Malone altogether, in my opinion. Sticking to the individual talent and leadership that each player would bring to the table, James wins that war as well. Don’t stone me just yet.
Malone may be one of the best power forwards to play the game, but think about the advantageous skill set James brings with him. He and Karl Malone have similar strength and build. However, while Malone would demolish power forwards and centers, as designated by his true position, James annihilates everyone on every spot on the floor.
Finishing second behind Tyson Chandler for Defensive Player of the Year, even Doc Rivers recognized that James had the masterful capabilities of guarding everyone except for him during a Boston Celtics game.
Malone has the innate sense of athleticism, passing ability, strength and health that made him so attractive to the Dream Team, but where are any of those avenues missing with LeBron?
Malone had John Stockton to be the ying to his yang. James is a combination of Malone and Magic Johnson’s skills. That would be far more appeasing than Malone, alone.
Chris Mullin had a sweet stroke from primarily playing the shooting guard position until Don Nelson became the head coach of the Golden State Warriors and rotated Mullin to the small forward position.
As much of a scoring threat as Mullin was, James is a better package. Not only is James a scorer, but he is also one of the league’s most supreme defenders. We are also talking about a Mullins that was not an above-the-rim player, and was really good at one thing—scoring. Mullin’s fingertips never lied and Tim Hardaway could attest to that.
The problem with keeping him on the ’92 Dream Team roster over LeBron is that James is an above-the-rim-player with an eye for scoring and facilitating.
James is not great at one thing—James is great at everything.
"Phil Jackson used to call Scottie a 'sometimes shooter.' Sometimes they would go in, sometimes they wouldn't. That's how it is with LeBron. He's a great talent and a great player but you can see his flaws as a basketball player. He doesn't have an offensive game that he can rely on: no low-post game, no mid-range jump shot so when the game really gets tough he has a hard time finding easy baskets and getting himself going.”
A lot has changed over a year and James is not that ‘sometimes shooter’ that Coach Jackson once described Pippen to be. Over the last season, James has proven that he has an offensive game waiting in the wings after he pummels teams defensively and barrels down to the other side of the court.
Especially in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, James showcased an increased use of his post game and a mid-range jumper that earned him 45 points in Game 6 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
When the game gets tough, James has no problem getting himself or his teammates going, with exception to Game 4 of the second-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.
Other than that stale display of gamesmanship, LeBron is his team’s unmatched facilitator.
Pippen had length and athleticism working in his favor, but James’ build and strength coupled with Pippen’s most noticeable elements make him a better candidate for a spot on the roster.
LeBron James has cascaded into a very unique realm of his career. It’s a realm that has created one of the most infallible perceptions of talent the league has ever seen. Fans have to be honest.
If this had been ’92, James would easily dethrone some of the Hall of Fame roster.
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