Dreamers or Redeemers? 1992 is the winner.
On Friday morning (eastern time) the 2008 U.S. men's basketball team will head into the semifinal round of the Beijing Olympics, taking on Manu Ginobili and Argentina.
This year's Olympic squad, known as the "Redeem Team," has been romping over their competition. Through five games, the U.S. is 5-0 and has an average margin of victory of 32 points. Pretty solid, considering the team "won" the bronze medal in 2004 in Athens.
But it poses the question - would the 2008 team beat the 1992 team? Would the Redeemers cream the Dreamers? Would it be the '08 Stars and Stripers or the '92 Stars and Strippers (Patrick Ewing and the Gold Club say "hello.")
Welcome to a little U.S. Basketball point/counterpoint.
The 1992 team was a giant "shampoo you" to the world. It was our way of saying: we're America, we invented the game, and here's a little ass-whuppin' to make it clear. The closest margin of victory was 32 points (Croatia) and the average win was by almost 44 points per game.
The 1992 roster was perfect. It had superstars at every level and in every role. Head coach Chuck Daly summed it up best:
"It was like Elvis and the Beatles put together. Traveling with the Dream Team was like traveling with 12 rock stars. That's all I can compare it to."The personnel:
Guards - John Stockton; Magic Johnson; Chris Mullin; Scottie Pippen; Michael Jordan; Clyde Drexler
Stockton is arguably the best point guard in NBA history (15,806 assists). About 15,805 of those went to Karl Malone. Chris Mullin ended his career as one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history. Clyde Drexler, at that time, was one of the most prolific offensive players in the league. And then you're dealing with three "one-name guys:" Magic. Michael. Scottie.Forwards - Charles Barkley; Larry Bird; Karl Malone (who loves beanie babies); Christian Laettner
Barkley and Malone each re-defined the modern definition of the power forward. There is a one-namer in Larry. Laettner could have been replaced by me, and it wouldn't have made a difference.Centers - Patrick Ewing; David Robinson
Patrick was a borderline one-namer. The Admiral was just beginning his solidly spectacular career.The Stats:
Ri-god-damned-diculous. Some of the individual stats are crazy - Barkley's 71.1% field goal percentage, Mullin's 53.8% from three-point land, Jordan's 37 steals (in eight games...).
But the team stats are what really floor me. The team shot 57.8% (369-638) while holding opponents to under 37.0%.
They only shot 40.0% from the perimeter (54-135), but if you remove Jordan (4-19) and Drexler (6-21) who still had hops and didn't need to rely on a little below-the-rim stuff, the Dream Teamers were 44-95 - good for 46.3%.
From the charity stripe, the U.S. made 146 FT. Opponents ATTEMPTED 151. The rebounding margin was +13.5. The assist percentage was 64.7%. That means, 64.7% of the time, a field goal was tallied on a direct pass from a teammate.
This was a true team effort. Nine of the 12 players earned the start at least twice. Ten players played in all eight contests. Seven players had at least 14 assists. Forty-seven of opponents' 372 misses were blocked.
Those numbers are downright silly.The accolades:
There are four Hall of Famers: Bird, Magic, Barkley, Drexler. Jordan, Malone, Robinson, Pippen, Ewing, and Stockton will be. Mullin might be. (Laettner has a slightly better shot than I do.)
But in short, I think the 1992 Dream Team would - easily - outdistance the 2008 Redeemers.
That's the thesis statement. We'll continue with the 2008 view, and then continue to support our argument(s).