There have been recent speculations lately about who would win in a basketball game between the 1992 Olympic Dream Team and the 2008 Redeem Team. But everyone seems to forget the 1996 Olympic Dream II team.
Because the 1992 dream team was, in my opinion, the best team ever assembled, I believe they would have beaten both the 1996 and 2008 teams—and obviously the 2000 and 2004 teams. But who would win in a matchup between the 1996 team and the 2008 team?
One of the biggest arguments against the 1992 team was that the team looked great on paper because they had superstar names—but in reality most of their players were old, retired, or injured. You can’t use that argument against the 1996 Olympic team, because all players were healthy aside from very minor injuries to Hakeem Olajuwon and Grant Hill.
Here’s how the teams would match up:
1996: John Stockton and Gary Payton
2008: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Jason Kidd
It’s hard to argue against Stockton and Payton, even if the 2008 team had superstar point guards in Paul, Williams and Kidd. Stockton and Payton dominated the 1990s at the point guard position. Stockton was named the 1990s' all-decade player at the point guard position, with Payton second.
While Paul and Williams might have had speed on their side, let’s not forget Gary Payton’s tenacious defense. He would have held all the 2008 point guards in check, and disrupted the 2008 team's offense.
Everyone talks about how Kidd bring leadership to the 2008 team, and he did just that—but Stockton’s leadership and his cool control of the offense just overwhelmingly trumps Kidd’s.
1996: Reggie Miller and Mitch Richmond
2008: Kobe Bryant, Michael Redd, and Dwyane Wade
While Reggie Miller would have shot lights out, and forgotten star Mitch Richmond—did you know Richmond was voted fifth all-decade shooting guard of the 1990’s—would have made some noise, neither of them would have been able to keep pace with Bryant and Wade.
Bryant would probably be all over Miller, not letting him get a single clean look in the whole game. Wade and Bryant would have been too explosive for either Richmond or Miller to guard. Easy pick.
1996: Grant Hill, Scottie Pippin, and Anfernee Hardaway
2008: LeBron James and Tayshuan Prince
It’s hard to argue against LeBron James—but let’s not forget that both Grant Hill and Anfernee Hardaway were supposed to be the next Jordan. The 1996 Olympics were before Hill or Hardaway had their major injuries. Both Hill and Hardaway played almost identically to James, except for the fact that James can bull his way through anything.
The stats of all three are almost identical—all of them were triple-double treats in the year before their Olympics. Hill averaged 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, Hardaway averaged, 21 points, four rebounds and seven assists, and James averaged 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Oh, and let’s not forget about Pippen who averaged 20 pts, six rebounds, and six assists. He would have guarded James, and done an outstanding job
1996: Karl Malone and Charles Barkley
2008: Carmelo Anthony and Carlos Boozer
I wanted to put Anthony in the small forward position, but he started each game as a power forward. He did a good job at that position, but he would have been absolutely manhandled by either Malone or Barkley.
Boozer has the size to match up against those two, but the skill of Malone and Barkley would have easily destroyed the power forwards of the 2008 team.
1996: David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon
2008: Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh
Howard and Bosh would foul out in about five minutes, leaving a gaping hole in the middle for the 2008 team. 1996 had three of the greatest centers/players ever in the NBA. Can’t really argue against the 1996 team here.
In the end, I believe the 1996 Olympic team would easily defeat the 2008 Olympic team. They would just overwhelm the 2008 team at every position, besides maybe shooting guard.
James, Wade, and the other explosive players on the 2008 team would have a very, very hard time getting to the basket, because the centers of the 1996 are arguably the best three shot-blocking centers ever—besides Bill Russell, of course. None of them, especially Hakeem, would allow an easy layup or dunk.
No one on the 2008 team would be able to stop any of the big men on the 1996 team, making rebounding and defending the point virtually impossible for the 2008 team.
Winner: 1996 Olympic team
Anybody want to write about how the 2000 team would beat the 2008 team?