NBA players weren’t always allowed in the Olympics. Our team was comprised of the best college players around; but unfortunately they weren’t enough.
FIBA opened Olympic basketball to professionals in 1989 and the NBA didn’t want any part of it. Fortunately they changed their minds and the Golden Age of basketball began.
For the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, U.S. Basketball fielded a team of 11 NBA super stars and arguably the greatest college player ever. They spread the NBA brand globally and made basketball an international phenomenon; they were the best team ever assembled…until now.
Last week Kobe Bryant said he thought today’s U.S. Basketball team could beat the ’92 Dream Team; it didn’t go over well. In the days since, many former and current U.S. players have voiced their opinions of what would happen if this impossible game ever took place.
With so many different opinions floating around, I figured I’d throw mine out as well.
The Dream Team was unheard of at the time. Looking at their roster, it’s one big name after another: Johnson, Jordan, Bird, Malone, Robinson, Barkley… it goes on. But Bird was 36 with a bad back and Magic (33) hadn’t played in a year. Professional basketball at this point in time relatively didn’t exist in other parts of the world minus the subpar leagues of Europe. They didn’t play anybody! Croatia, who won the Silver medal, had a few recognizable names: Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc, Dino Rada; but those three were only so good.
Today’s team is a lot younger; Kobe (33) is the only member over 30 and they face much stronger competition. In ’92 there wasn’t anyone like Tony Parker, Steve Nash or Dirk Nowitzki. You might be thinking, “but those guys are old,” well how about Ricky Rubio and Serge Ibaka? Not to forget the talented Brazil and Argentina squads.
If the 2 teams played today, in Olympic form, it’d be a fantastic game. For a member of the Dream Team to say they’d win without question is just ridiculous. To say the Dream Team had it easier is an understatement. Have you seen the documentary? Those bros were on vacation! They did something for the game that will never be forgotten, they changed the world, but they didn’t have Lebron and they didn’t have Durant. These days it’s a whole different game.