92 Dream team never tested against the foes it was built for

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SPQR
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With the Olympics underway and new version of the Dream Team fighting for its own place in history, there has been much talk about the original 92 Dream Team. This has in part been prompted by Kobe Bryant’s contention that the new version could have beaten the progenitor of all the teams that followed. But what is forgotten today, especially by a younger generation of fans not yet born or too young to remember the events of 92 is the fact that the 92 team never faced the monster teams it was designed to deal with. To understand why this happened we need to look at world events that transpired between 1988 and 1992. Before 92, the USA had dominated men’s basketball, including with what many call the original Dream Team, without the name, the 1960 team that featured eventual NBA hall of famers Jerry Lucas, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson among others. This team ran through the Olympics with an average winning margin of 42.4 points and the closest game they played was decided by 24 points. The only Olympics the USA failed to win the gold medal in was the Munich games of 72 where the USA, leading by a point was forced to replay the final few seconds three times by the referees until the Soviet Union put in the winning basket. The team was so upset by this gift to their opponents, they declined their silver medals which still are in the possession of the International Olympic committee. But by 1988 things had changed. The Soviet block countries had learned the game and had a huge pool of young, athletic, experience players to stock their teams. The old Soviet Union was comprised of many countries such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine and Russia. The players from all these....

granpatron24
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Regardless of who that team was built for, the international competition at the time was GARBAGE. Ok garbage is an over statement but not far from the truth. This years olympic team would run that 92' team out the building. As much as I despise Lebron, NOBODY could check him rite now 1-1.

Dave
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Another great blog, Randy- repped! I also think the Dream Team would have beaten the Soviet team if it had existed- it would have been an entertaining and emotional game. One thing though- if I'm not mistaken I think it was Lebron who said that the current team can beat the Dream Team. Kobe actually thought that the Dream Team would beat the current Team USA.

SPQR
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Dave,

Thanks for the read and the rep. I had a feeling you would like this post as you are interesting in all things basketball. It was Kobe who said it, not Lebron. That was classic Kobe, "I can beat anyone." Lebron is more reticent on how he feels about things, lol. Here is a link to that story: http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/07/11/kobe-says-2012-olymp ic-team-could-beat-dream-team-krzyzewski-wouldnt-rule-it-out/

The USA vs the Soviet Block teams would have been sports drama at its highest. Especially after 88. We sure had the edge in talent in 92, but even still had those teams existed, not only did they have considerable talent, the one edge they had on us was synergy. Those guys played together on those teams since they were kids all the way through their teens and twenties and thirties. I doubt any basketball teams in history knew each other on offense and defense as those Soviet block teams. Would that and their talent been enough to take us out in a game? Like you, I don't think so. But unlike the teams we really faced in 92, when I would have bet my life we were gonna go undefeated, I would not have bet my life with the USSR and Yugoslavia power house teams playing. A lot of money, yeah, my life, no, lol.

It would have been very emotional Dave. Because we lost in 88 and also the cold war thing. We hated the communist block, they hated us. It was mutual hate and fear that went on forever and it strongly infected our few sports meeting that took place mostly in the Olympics. That was why the miracle on ice of 80 was so powerful. Not only did a bunch of nobody college kids beat the best hockey team in the world, but it was the Soviet hockey team. Our enemy in every way, not just in sports.

Seem like a different world back then. And it was. I thought that cold war stuff would go on forever.

maraud
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Randy,

What you are saying is true but I feel that the USA Pro's were way ahead of all of the Eueo's in quality of play at that time. Now with all the NBA Euro's playing on all the intl teams they have caught up to us in skill level but the USA still has the majority of NBA skill players on one team. The Euro's only have 4 or 5 NBA players on each team.

lakeshowsd
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granpatron24 wrote:
Regardless of who that team was built for, the international competition at the time was GARBAGE. Ok garbage is an over statement but not far from the truth. This years olympic team would run that 92' team out the building. As much as I despise Lebron, NOBODY could check him rite now 1-1.

Nobody could stop 1992 version of Jordan either. He was even more unstoppable than Lebron, so I disagree with you.

lakeshowsd
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Randy,

Great post. Wish I could rep you but I used my 5 votes up on your work long ago.

I was very young when the 1988 Team USA was defeated in the Olympics, so I have virtually no memory of those events. I was old enough to remember the Dream Team though, and it's very interesting to think about the historical significance of how the fall of the Soviet Union impacted so many things, including the world of sports. It would be less than fair to say that the 92' Dream Team was properly tested in those Olympic games 20 years ago, whereas this current Team USA has faced much stiffer competition. That's still not a convincing enough argument for me to definitively say that the 2012 Team USA is better than Dream Team was, but it's certainly a point in 2012 Team USA's favor.

Comparing across eras is tough, but I tend to give more respect to the old school players, whom I believe were more fundamentally sound and were smarter basketball players than most of the guys on the current Team USA squad. They were also a bit more experienced from top to bottom on the 92' Team, so those remain points in their favor.

It's really impossible to say which Team USA was the best of the bunch unless we had a time machine and could summon them all the play against one another. It would certainly be easier to make a case for the Dream Team had history worked out differently, and had they been properly tested against those Eastern Block giants in the days of the Soviet Union. Still, as much as younger basketball fans love to heap praise on this current Team USA, nothing can take away from the greatness of all those Dream Team players and nothing can take away from the fact that they were practically all Hall of Fame talents, worthy of proper respect and admiration.

granpatron24
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lakeshowsd wrote:
granpatron24 wrote:
Regardless of who that team was built for, the international competition at the time was GARBAGE. Ok garbage is an over statement but not far from the truth. This years olympic team would run that 92' team out the building. As much as I despise Lebron, NOBODY could check him rite now 1-1.

Nobody could stop 1992 version of Jordan either. He was even more unstoppable than Lebron, so I disagree with you.

Are you saying Kobe and Lebron would have no effect on limiting MJ?? At age 29 MJ wasnt attacking the basket like he was 4-5 years earlier.Lebron could attack the 92' Dream Team at will. I for the most part think MJ is as great as everyone thinks he is but the dude was human. He missed horrible shots like Kobe and Lebron, was an average 3 point shooter. His legend is his clutchness which has nothing to do with dominance..

SPQR
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Marvin, thanks for reading the post as always. Yes, I agree that the state of Eurpean ball now is better than back then. But also think that was offset by the countries that encompassed the Soviet and Yugoslav teams. Also, when you look at the rosters of those teams, they had players. Real players. But after those teams, yeah, there is no comparison down the line between back then and now. Much stronger now. Were the Soviet and Yugo teams better than say Spain now? I honestly cant answer that because I don't feel comfortable giving an answer, lol. I will say this, no team now put together for the Olympics played together like the Soviet block two monsters did. By that I mean, play together forever till they knew each other to perfection. That always gives a team a good edge. Steve, Thanks for the good words. I knew you would like the story of the old Dream Team and games that we never saw. It is a shame the 92 squad did not get to play the powerhouses that necessitated its creation. It really was case of overkill after the Communist block broke up and those two great teams dispersed. It also took away the real measuring stick of the Dream Team. I mean if they had played and beaten Yugoslavia by say 30 points and the Soviet team by 26, well, lol, that would say it all, right? All those blowouts of those new, undermanned teams meant nothing really. But that doesn't take away from that team as far as its ultimate greatness. I didn't make this thread to get into a 92 vs 2012 debate. That was done already. But I dont think this Dream Team was nearly as good. As Granpatron says, Lebron would have been unstoppable. Durant too.....

mambamonk87
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Great post - I like that you always add a perspective on the eras of basketball in the 80s and 90s that most of us young guys weren't exposed to. That Yugoslavian team would've had guys like Drazen Petrovic, Vlade Divac, and Toni Kukoc playing together, and that would've been one hell of a matchup against the 92 Dream Team.

For anyone interested in learning more about the Croatian/Serbian split and how it affected international basketball, there's an ESPN 30 for 30 episode called "Once Brothers" that talks about the relationship between Petrovic and Divac and how they turned from friends to foes due to the breakup of Yugoslavia.

lakeshowsd
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granpatron24 wrote:

Are you saying Kobe and Lebron would have no effect on limiting MJ?? At age 29 MJ wasnt attacking the basket like he was 4-5 years earlier.Lebron could attack the 92' Dream Team at will. I for the most part think MJ is as great as everyone thinks he is but the dude was human. He missed horrible shots like Kobe and Lebron, was an average 3 point shooter. His legend is his clutchness which has nothing to do with dominance..

Look at the stats, bro. Jordan was just as dominant, if not MORE dominant than Lebron. Dream Team Jordan was 29 years old and coming off his 2nd NBA title in which he had averaged 35 points, 5 boards and 6 assists in the NBA Finals. He also shot 52% from the field and 42% from the 3-point line in those 1992 NBA Finals, so OBVIOUSLY Jordan was at the peak of his greatness in 92'. Jordan in 92' was better and more dominant than Lebron or Kobe is today. That's my take on it, but hey if you wanna think Lebron or Kobe are better today than Jordan was back then, then I just don't agree with you.

steven18
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agreed the modern basketball world has revolutionized and advanced globally when the dream team was around their weren't many international players like today . another thing is the game itself has changed most notably the pace and the shooting, this has made the game completely different by introducing the zone and teams to this day run mostly pick and rolls and use a large portion of zone. 90's and 80's teams were based on ball movement especially the lakers, and was a big boy league. anyone can see that the current basketball world is based on guards especially in the nba. different pace favors different postions and if the dream team played modern teams they probably would not be winning by 50 points a game . im not saying that the dream team had it easy its just their wasn't much competition like their is today

SPQR
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Steven,

You made a lot of great points. Ill rep you. Very nice read. I agree with all you said. And with the dissolution of the two strong Soviet block teams, the first Dream Team had no competition at all. Like using a bazooka to kill a bug.

But one thing does need to be acknowledged, the 92 team did have to play against the zone because it was in international and Olympic ball.

steven18
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SPQR wrote:
Steven,

You made a lot of great points. Ill rep you. Very nice read. I agree with all you said. And with the dissolution of the two strong Soviet block teams, the first Dream Team had no competition at all. Like using a bazooka to kill a bug.

But one thing does need to be acknowledged, the 92 team did have to play against the zone because it was in international and Olympic ball.

Thank you for the rep, and i completely agree with your saying that "The first Dream Team had no competition at all". It truly was a cruise for them. When you said it was like using a bazooka to kill a bug it made laugh because it was so true. as for the zone, when the zone was being used by international teams none of them actually ran it fluidly and lacked motion . it was useless against the Dream Team because of all the height they had " Ewing, Robinson, Barkley,Malone, Laettner, and Mullin ." they were just two big for all the teams. Barkley dominated any team out in the floor and it showed after he lead the team in scoring. The zone now is ran much more efficiently and uses constant motion. The one thing i always like to watch over and over is the Dream Team scrimmage and the battle between jordan and magic .... it was

classic.

By the way, your post was a true pleasure to read you summarized everything so well not only with the Dream Teams point of view but basketball internationally.

SPQR
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Steven,

The only basketball played on that team, the only competion they faced was each other. No wonder you liked the scrimmage best, lol. I don't know if you were old enough to see the Dream Team or not. If you are, then you know how boooring those "games" were. Like watching college players take on HS players.

It would have been fun if they had played Yugoslav and the Soviet team. That would have made it all worth the while. Not saying we would have lost, because I don't think that. Just fun. Much better teams and also because of 88 and cold war thing which always made the Olympics very emotional when it came to America vs the Soviet block, in any sport.

maraud
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lakeshowsd wrote:
granpatron24 wrote:

Are you saying Kobe and Lebron would have no effect on limiting MJ?? At age 29 MJ wasnt attacking the basket like he was 4-5 years earlier.Lebron could attack the 92' Dream Team at will. I for the most part think MJ is as great as everyone thinks he is but the dude was human. He missed horrible shots like Kobe and Lebron, was an average 3 point shooter. His legend is his clutchness which has nothing to do with dominance..

Look at the stats, bro. Jordan was just as dominant, if not MORE dominant than Lebron. Dream Team Jordan was 29 years old and coming off his 2nd NBA title in which he had averaged 35 points, 5 boards and 6 assists in the NBA Finals. He also shot 52% from the field and 42% from the 3-point line in those 1992 NBA Finals, so OBVIOUSLY Jordan was at the peak of his greatness in 92'. Jordan in 92' was better and more dominant than Lebron or Kobe is today. That's my take on it, but hey if you wanna think Lebron or Kobe are better today than Jordan was back then, then I just don't agree with you.

LSD,

The original Dream team was better because of the height of the forwards. If todays team had Howard, it would have been a closer match up. Chandler just does not impress me that much. I think that he would foul out in the third quarter.

WatchTheSkyFall24
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If the current team had Howard, Rose and Wade, the dream team would get run out the building...

lakeshowsd
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WatchTheSkyFall24 wrote:
If the current team had Howard, Rose and Wade, the dream team would get run out the building...

Kinda of silly to think about it that way. If Dream Team had Shaq, Olajuwon, and Isiah Thomas, they would have even more easily destroyed Team USA 2012, so I don't really see your point...

I prefer to discuss how the teams would match up as they actually existed, rather than focusing on who would win if you could magically summon players who were not on the original teams.

WatchTheSkyFall24
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lakeshowsd wrote:
WatchTheSkyFall24 wrote:
If the current team had Howard, Rose and Wade, the dream team would get run out the building...

Kinda of silly to think about it that way. If Dream Team had Shaq, Olajuwon, and Isiah Thomas, they would have even more easily destroyed Team USA 2012, so I don't really see your point...

I prefer to discuss how the teams would match up as they actually existed, rather than focusing on who would win if you could magically summon players who were not on the original teams.

They were all out due to injury, they are the original players of the team. Shaq and Isiah we're simply left out and Olajuwon wasn't a citizen.

lakeshowsd
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WatchTheSkyFall24 wrote:

They were all out due to injury, they are the original players of the team. Shaq and Isiah we're simply left out and Olajuwon wasn't a citizen.

It don't matter. It just sounds like a different excuse. Injuries happen in sports, so the would, coulda, shouldas don't really mean anything to me. I like to discuss the teams as they actually existed. That's really my point.


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