Leave your emotions at the end of this paragraph. You don’t like Kobe’s ego, Carmelo’s braids, or Dwight Howard’s free throw percentage, but the facts are the facts. It is sacrilegious to say it, but it is the truth. At this high level of basketball skill, athleticism will win out, and Michael Jordan is the reason that the ‘92 Olympic team could not beat the ’08 Olympic team in a seven-game series.
It all started on a sunny day in May. Michael Jordan hits “The Shot” in front of Craig Ehlo as a 4-year-old LeBron James watches his Cavaliers from Akron and a 7-year-old Dwayne Wade cheers in Chicago. Little did Jordan know, the killer instinct and will to win he showed in that game would mold a generation of basketball players that would drive the NBA in years to come.
Michael Jordan was not the first athlete of his type to play professional basketball. He was the first player that we saw use his athleticism to physically dominate championship basketball games. Today’s “Redeem team” is the product of that sort of athletic ruthlessness and modern training methods.
I present to you the “Redeem Team”; Kobe Bryant (aka, Jordan with a better perimeter game), Dwayne Wade (aka, smaller Jordan), Lebron James (aka, bigger Jordan who shoots free-throws poorly at times), and Carmelo Anthony (aka, older Jordan with a lot less defense).
The matchup problem that Jordan caused for his contemporaries on offense is the same matchup problem that these four players will cause for the ’92 Dream Team no matter who guards them including Jordan and Pippen.
Dwight Howard (aka, giant Jordan who can’t shoot free-throws or dribble) will dominate the middle against David Robinson and Patrick Ewing with his whopping 44-inch vertical (as reported by SI.com) and freakish strength. Dwight Howard’s strength is comparable to a young Shaq’s (who dominated both Robinson and Ewing in his early NBA years) and he has much more vertical leap. Those attributes would make him the king of the paint in any era.
Remember, Hakeem Olajuwon was NOT on the “Dream Team”! Hakeem played on the 1996 Olympic Team.
Chris Bosh playing the 4 & 5 position will also make the “Redeem Team” very hard to penetrate defensively. His level of quickness at 6’10” is something you simply don’t see often, and he is very capable offensively. Think John Salley plus 20 points per game.
Like any series with NBA players, the difference maker will be the matchups. The athleticism of the “Redeem Team” is going to be a real problem for the “Dream Team” in a seven-game series.
The “Redeem Team” will be able to guard the “Dream Team” better than the “Dream Team” will be able to guard the "Redeem Team”. No matter what five players the “Dream Team” puts on the court, the ’08 Team will be able to matchup well with them defensively and have the advantage offensively. It simply is not the case the other way around.
The “Dream Team” will win in the first game without doubt. Just like the ’02 Finals, Jason Kidd will be laid off of and forced to score, and the ’08 Olympic Team will lose because he doesn’t want to shoot and is only a good shooter on some nights.
“Magic” hanging back in the lane will get an easy triple-double because he will rebound and start the “Showtime” for his team without effort. “Magic” will also cause problems for wing players attempting to penetrate off the dribble, because he’s guarding an offensive non-threat.
The early lead they gain will not be surmountable after Jordan takes over late. If these teams played one time, I don’t begrudge you that the “Dream Team” will win with Jason Kidd starting at the point, but it will only be because of “Magic”.
After the adjustments are made and Coach K settles on playing Chris Paul and Deron Williams at the point, the series will make a quick turn, and the “Redeem Team” will make light work of the team that we thought was unbeatable, the 1992 Olympic Gold Medal “Dream Team”.
In this battle of basketball era’s, the now beats the then, thanks to Michael Jordan.