If you had the chance of picking any team in NBA history to play against the Dream Team and have a realistic shot at winning, what team would you pick? That question came to mind during the weekend. I’ll give you my top 5. Feel free to send me suggestions on this one:
5. 1982-1983 Philadelphia 76ers (65-17)
Julius Erving won the MVP trophy during the 1980-1981 season. However his 76ers team was having problems advancing into the playoffs. So by the off-season of 1982, the 76ers acquired reigning league MVP Moses Malone to fortify their inside scoring as well as their inside defense and rebounding. The result? Malone won the MVP award again. Philadelphia orchestrated a great regular season and then proceeded to have an even better postseason with a 12-1 playoff record (back then you only went through three rounds to win the title) on their way to the championship. The 76ers would be well equipped to take on the Dream Team in theory. With the likes of Moses at center, Dr. J at small forward and Andrew Toney at shooting guard, this team should match up well with the Olympians right? Well actually, they match up as well as Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. MJ would take out Andrew Toney and Pippen would perform emergency surgery on the Doctor. Moses would be stuck having to face the likes Ewing, Robinson, Malone and Barkley (and guarding them as well). Keep in mind though, no one on that 76ers squad would be able to guard Sir Charles or Larry Bird for that matter. Then add Michael Jordan taking over and going in for dunks off of fast breaks passes from Magic, and it’s a wrap. Dream Team wins 145-115.
4. 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers (69-13)
Early in the 1971-1972 NBA season, the great Elgin Baylor retired from basketball. Some felt though the Lakers might suffer from his departure but in fact that team was so talented that it didn’t matter. Jerry West (25.8 ppg, 9.7 apg) and Gail Goodrich (25.9 ppg, 4.5 apg) formed what was arguably the best backcourt in the league at the time. In addition, the Lakers interior was anchored by 20,000 women in the form of Wilt Chamberlain. That team was so good that it went two months without losing (November 5th,1971 to January 7th, 1972). During that stretch, the Lakers won 33 games in a row (that record still stands today) on their way to a then NBA record 69 wins. The team used their regular season success to catapult themselves to a title backed by a 12-3 postseason record. I would love to see this team take on the Dream Team. We would have three great battles: Magic vs Goodrich; MJ vs West and Chamberlain vs Robinson. This game would probably sell out faster then Tupac’s resurrection tour (we all know he’s alive; the dude keeps making tracks that strangely depict things happening in the world TODAY). With that said, the Dream Team would have way too much firepower for the Lakers. Between Bird, Barkley, Mullin, Drexler and Stockton; there would be too many players that would need to be covered without the presence of actual help defense. Therefore, the athletes would get the lanes needed to drive the basket and send 20,000 women to ride the bench (I swear that wasn’t meant to come out that way….actually I lied) due to foul trouble. Dream Team wins 145-120
3. 1986-1987 Los Angeles Lakers (65-17)
After losing in the 1985-1986 Western Conference Finals 4-1 to the Houston Rockets, the Lakers came back the following year trying to claim another title. Magic still had an aging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to feed in the set offense, but instead chose to run. Once Magic got his hands on the ball, he became Usain Bolt with a basketball and raced down the court to feed athletes like James Worthy, Byron Scott and Michael Cooper who finished at the rim. The Lakers used their transition offense to guide them to a great regular season and a 15-3 playoff record as they defeated the Boston Celtics in the Finals. This team mind you would prove to be no match against the Dream Team. This Lakers squad would not be tough or strong enough to deal with the likes of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and David Robinson inside. Dream Team wins 140-120.
2. 1996-1997 Chicago Bulls (72-10)
Michael Jordan’s athletic gifts had slowly started to erode but his understanding of the game had reached new heights. MJ was now setting up defenders with a slew of head fakes which eventually resulted in open shots. Jordan understood that going to the basket was only absolutely necessary in the fourth quarter because he had people such as Shaft, Alonzo Harris and Steven Segal(he took some hits when he went to the hole) waiting for him in the paint. In addition, Michael now understood how to take a backseat to his teammates every now and then, thus allowing the Bulls franchise to claim at the time their fourth title with a 15-3 playoff record. On top of that, this team won not only because it had the best player of all time but also because it was one of the best defensive teams of its era. Consequently, they would be able to produce a great defensive game plan against the Dream Team with the likes of Jordan, Pippen and Rodman. But ultimately the Bulls would lose because ’92 Jordan and Drexler would wear down ’96 Jordan; ’92 Malone and ’92 Barkley would obliterate Rodman and ’92 Pippen and ’92 Bird would take ’96 Pippen to school. Keep in mind I have not yet factored in Magic Johnson. Dream Team wins 135-115.
1. 1985-1986 Boston Celtics (67-15)
After losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals in the 1985-1986 season, the Celtics set out to come back the following season and destroy their opponents on their way to a title. This Celtics squad finished with a 40-1 home record (record still stands) and eventually won the title thanks to a 15-3 playoff record. But the beauty of this team is not about numbers, it’s about the game. The 1985-1986 Boston Celtics has been mentioned by many as the greatest collection of talented NBA players who actually knew how to play the game (other then the Dream Team). This team was so good that it had to set out challenges in order to remain motivated. For instance, Larry Bird shot left handed during some games just to keep things interesting. Things like that happen when your team is loaded with ballers: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Bill Walton and Dennis Johnson. This team would be able to give the Dream Team a scare. Bird and McHale in their primes would go right at the Olympians, although they might wear down against their counterparts. Dennis Johnson would bother Michael for merely a portion of the game but then MJ would eventually shake loose. Magic however would orchestrate the offense perfectly and get guys into the proper spots to attack Bird and the rest of the Celtics frontline. The game would be close until early in the fourth quarter, and then the Dream Team would pull away after wearing out the Celtics and running the fast break from start to finish. Dream Team wins 130-115.
As you can see, no team would be able to take down the 1992 squad, but it would sure as hell be fun to see these games played though. The Dream Team will always be the greatest collection of talent ever assembled.