No redemption needed, 1992 triumphs
By Childs Walker
We just watched the best U.S. men's basketball team to play in the Olympics since at least 1996.
But is the Redeem Team better than the Dream Team? Come on. Here's a little exercise. I'm coaching the 1992 team. You tell me how you're going to beat me with from the 2008 team.
You probably want to create turnovers and run our older legs off the court. But I can start three guys -- Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson -- who bring the ball upcourt. They're all 6-foot-6 or taller and they can all pass. Magic is the best fast-break orchestrator of all time. Jordan, Pippen and Clyde Drexler are three of the best wing finishers. And don't forget about Karl Malone, the best running power forward of all time, or David Robinson, the fastest 7-footer ever. Yeah, you guys don't want to run with us.
So maybe you want to bang it out in the half court. OK, I'll put in Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley. I know Chris Bosh played great in Beijing, but you're telling me that skinny fella is going to keep Ewing and Sir Charles from the rim? Don't think so. And don't forget that our point guard is 6-foot-9 and played center in the NBA Finals. He can post up and pick you guys apart. Oh, and don't think you'll beat us by playing zone. Chris Mullin and Larry Bird will light you up from outside.
I know, you believe your LeBron James- Kobe Bryant- Dwyane Wade troika can't be defended. That's true to a point, but I'll stick Pippen on LeBron and Jordan on Kobe and take my chances. Wade is a terrific super sub, but my top reserve, Drexler, is bigger, just as athletic and just as versatile.
The 2008 squad played better competition, you're thinking. True enough. But Arvydas Sarbonis and Sarunas Marciulionis made Lithuania pretty potent in 1992. We only beat them by 51 in the semifinal. And Croatia started NBA standouts Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja and Drazen Petrovic. We beat them by 32. Meanwhile, you guys couldn't stop Rudy Fernandez or Juan Carlos Navarro in your nail-biter against Spain.
Finally, we have Michael Jordan and you don't. Kobe might be the best knockoff, but the real thing scored more, shot better, defended more ferociously and played a pretty fair point guard in Beijing. He's the best ever, the guy even Michael Phelps wants to meet. Anything you can do, he can do better. Checkmate.
Keep dreamin', 2008 unit passed all its tests
By Bill Ordine
The Redeem Team obviously wasn't as glamorous as its dream-boat predecessors nor did it enjoy what amounted to the wire-to-wire triumphal procession that Jordan and company had in Barcelona 16 years ago. But, as shocking as the suggestion might be, the 2008 version of the U.S. national basketball team would have beaten the 1992 squad that's been canonized over the years -- at least in the international arena.
Where the Dream Team had advantages are obvious. The Dreamers had two seven-footers (Patrick Ewing and David Robinson) while the Redeemers had none and, of course, the '92 team included arguably the best player in the history of the game, plus Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
But here's the thing, when was that team's mettle ever tested?
The Redeemers, on the other hand, had to contend with the weight of past American disappointments and the challenge of much more talented competition that has often shown itself more adept playing the international game than NBA all-stars.
In the end, the Redeem Team had to demonstrate it could do something that was never required of the Dream Team -- play defense. And don't tell me that the Dreamers led in every defensive category because back then, opposing players were more concerned with scoring MJ's autograph than field goals.
Certainly, the first three of the Dreamers would seem to outclass the top three Redeemers (LeBron, Kobe and D-Wade) but the 2008 Olympians were more effective in using their bench which allowed them to play more aggressively. Ten players averaged 11 minutes or more.
However, above everything, the Redeemers dedicated three years to honing their skills and actually becoming a cohesive unit for just eight games in Beijing and hard workers will beat dreamers every time
What do you think? Get in on the argument by commenting below.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times