There is no denying that Team USA is the most dominant national squad, period. This has been the case since the inception of the famed 1992 “Dream Team” (and perhaps even earlier), and as is the case to this very day.
Below we have rounded out the five best Team USA squads ever formed.
5. 2016 Team USA
This is the most recent team among our list. This Team USA side was assembled for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
This team was led by Kevin Durant, who had just announced his decision to shun the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign with the defending champs, the Golden State Warriors. He may have been portrayed as the biggest villain that summer, but that certainly did not stop him from leading Team USA to its third consecutive gold medal. Durant’s supporting cast was not bad, too, with the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, and Jimmy Butler, to name a few. Durant was also able to link up with new teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green prior to officially teaming up with them in Oakland.
For the gold medal match, Team USA stomped Serbia, 92-66, which happens to be the largest margin of victory in the final since the 1992 Dream Team.
4. 2012 Team USA
If you have Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant in one team, this has to be one for the all-time greats, right? Absolutely. This collection of some of the biggest superstars to ever play the game resulted in another gold medal for Team USA in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.
Aside from the aforementioned headliners, this squad also boasted Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Kevin Love. A 19-year-old Anthony Davis was also included in this squad, fresh off of his first overall selection by the New Orleans Pelicans. This was also the last time the trio of Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden played together, with Harden being traded to the Houston Rockets that same summer.
In the gold medal match, Team USA edged out a formidable Spain squad led by the Gasol brothers, 107-100, as Americans successfully defended the gold the team had captured four years earlier.
3. 1996 “Dream Team III”
The first iteration of the “Dream Team” in 1992 is perhaps the greatest team ever assembled in the history of the sport. Four years later, the “Dream Team III” emerged, and in truth, it could have given its predecessors a run for their money.
The roster was a combination of some holdovers from the first Dream Team in Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Charles Barkley). Michael Jordan was the biggest absentee for this particular lineup, but guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller, and Gary Payton more than made up for his absence.
The best part here was that this side represented the nation in home soil, with the 1996 Summer Olympics being held in Atlanta. This team blew out each and every opponent, en route to a second consecutive Olympic gold following the success of the Dream Team in 1992. Their smallest win deficit came in the group stages, as they defeated Lithuania by “just” 22 points, 104-82. Their largest win, however, came at the expense of China, 133-70.
2. 2008 “Redeem Team”
This particular Team USA side had a great narrative. They were touted to redeem the miserable performance of the squad some four years earlier, as Team USA won bronze in the 2004 Olympics.
The “Redeem Team” were out for some revenge, and they executed the same to perfection. Kobe Bryant capatained this side, as he had the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony playing alongside him. It is also worth noting that this was one of the first times we saw the inclusion of non-superstar-caliber players on the team, with Michael Redd and Tayshaum Prince added to the roster.
Team USA defeated Spain in the finals, 118-107, as they successfully redeemed the shortcomings of the team four years earlier.
1. 1992 “Dream Team”
Was there any question that the original “Dream Team” was going to be at the very top of our list?
This team consisted of no less than 11 future Hall of Famers: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, and Chris Mullin. The twelfth man on the squad was Christian Laetner, who at that time was still coming off a tremendous career with Duke.
The roll call of this astounding roster should be enough to prove that this was the best team ever — not only in the category of the national squad, but in all teams, in all leagues, in all countries, ever. This team was so good that not only does it serve as the barometer for all future Team USA squads, but also, the team itself was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2010.