The United States Men’s’ Basketball program has sent plenty of formidable squads in international competition over the years. To this day, however, no one still comes close to the greatness and star power of the 1992 ensemble aptly dubbed as the Dream Team.
That squad, after all, featured three of the most prominent NBA talents in the ‘80s and ’90s — as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird bannered the greatest collection of talent ever assembled.
Some pundits, however, claim that the 2008 Redeem Team has a fighting chance against Jordan and company. Sure, both teams won gold medals and asserted the USA’s dominion when it comes to basketball.
Nevertheless, the Dream Team, as their moniker suggests, is stacked at every position there is. Eleven of those 12 players (with the exception of Christian Laettner) went on to be inducted individually in the Hall of Fame, while the entire team as a whole was enshrined as well.
For instance, ’08 team members like Carlos Boozer, Michael Redd, and Tayshaun Prince were all amazing players in their own right. But their careers were nowhere as distinguished as some of the Dream Team’s bench players, which included John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, and Chris Mullin.
Obviously, we have no way of knowing for sure which team will win a match since they played in different generations.
But personal-wise, there’s no denying the Dream Team is far more superior. Let’s take a closer look as to why the Dream Team would make mincemeat of the Redeem Team.
Dream Team: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler
Redeem Team: Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, Deron Williams, Michael Redd
Advantage: Dream Team
Had Isiah Thomas not been controversially excluded from the Dream Team, fans probably wouldn’t even have this conversation.
The ’08 squad was indeed a guard-centric unit and they had more options in terms of facilitating. Kidd was a bit past his prime, but Paul and Williams were both equally terrific at the time. Not to mention LeBron also loved playing point-forward for that squad.
The Dream Team, on the other hand, had the greatest point guard to ever play in Magic Johnson. The case can be made that Magic was limited during that stretch as he dealt with a knee injury.
However, Stockton held the fort and was the perfect playmaker for a team loaded with stars. The Utah Jazz legend is still often overlooked these days, even if he still holds the record for most career assists and steals in the NBA.
Obviously, the ultimate game-changer would be Jordan. It’s hard to bet against this Dream Team considering they had the best player to ever do it.
Bryant and Wade could probably hold their own against His Airness, but MJ had the more talented teammates to defer to in case defenses zeroed in on him.
Redd, meanwhile, was an outstanding sniper but he is one-dimensional as opposed to Drexler.
Dream Team: Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin, Christian Laettner
Redeem Team: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Tayshaun Prince
Advantage: Redeem Team
This was a tough choice but the ’08 ensemble probably has a slight edge mainly due to LeBron’s all-around prowess. A James versus Bird match-up could have been a stuff of legends. LeBron obviously has the athletic advantage, while Bird would give him fits with his outside accuracy.
The 1992 squad also had Pippen, who has the size, speed, and athleticism to keep up with James.
On the other hand, The Dream Team’s bruising power forwards, Barkley and Malone, will have a field day against the Redeem Team’s frontline. Everyone knows Boozer’s defensive limitations and the two Hall of Famers will eat him up at the post.
But the ’08 team has the ultimate X-factor in Anthony. Melo is the best scorer in Team USA history, while some claim he is already the greatest Olympic Men’s Basketball Player of all time. His mastery of the perimeter would force rebounding monsters Malone and Barkley outside the shaded area.
Mullin and Laettner, meanwhile, are capable of knocking down plenty of open shots for the Dream Team. However, Prince’s length should bother even the best scorers from the ’92 squad.
Dream Team: David Robinson, Patrick Ewing
Redeem Team: Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh
Advantage: Dream Team
This is where the Dream Team takes the cake. Howard was at the height of his “Superman” days but his skillset was nowhere as diverse as Robinson and Ewing’s.
Dwight’s raw strength alone should net him several dunks, rebounds, and blocks. However, The Admiral’s crafty post moves and Ewing’s smooth touch from the perimeter would be too overwhelming for Howard.
Bosh’s floor-stretching capabilities is a great asset for the Redeem Team, forcing the Dream Team’s bigs outside the paint. The wiry slotman, however, is not a natural center and will have trouble dealing with the physicality of the ’92 team’s behemoths.
In retrospect, both teams set a standard of excellence and are capable of beating every basketball team in the world. But who knows? Maybe we’ll see another USA team as stacked as the Dream Team in the near future.
But for now, the ’92 team is still the best team ever assembled.