Monday, August 25, 2008

Who Reigns Supreme?

Team USA has come full circle. When the Dream Team of the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain took to the court, they were considered the best arrangement of superstars ever assembled. After many Summer Games since, and with a perception or reality that the world has caught up to USA basketball (Argentina won the 2004 Gold Medal after all), the Redeem Team of 2008 has brought back USA basketball dominance. Thorough and convincing has been their play, the USA superstars of today have drawn comparisons to that untouchable bunch of 1992. Perhaps bordering upon hoop-lore blasphemy, the Redeem Team actually stacks up fairly well to the Dream Team. And for the sake of curiosity and intrigue, I’d like to take an inside look at the individual match-up comparisons of the Dream Team and the Redeem Team:

Magic vs. Kidd
This comparison probably isn’t very close. Magic was the best PG to lace up the sneakers (and this coming from a huge John Stockton fan). He and Bird essentially reinvented and reinvigorated the game of basketball in the NBA. In particular, Magic brought a new version of the fastbreak which had its own name…Showtime. Kidd has been a Magic Johnson prodigy…a pass-first PG who loves the fastbreak and distributing the ball. Kidd has become ‘one of the top 5 PGs’ of all-time, yet definitely peaked 4-5 years ago. To his credit, Kidd has been a solid team leader for the Redeem Team.

Edge: Magic, easily

Jordan vs. Kobe
Michael and Kobe will forever be compared to one another. Kobe is arguably the best player in the world right now. He’s got the complete overall game and owns an incredibly accurate jumper and 3-point shot (perhaps better than Jordan). Kobe has become a great defender for Team USA. BUT, we’re comparing him to the best player ever. Jordan sits alone on his pedestal of greatness. He’s THE BEST EVER. No one can match his competitiveness, focus, drive and ability. Until Kobe wins rings without Shaq around, he’ll be looking upward towards the MAN.

Edge: Jordan

Bird vs. LeBron
So, our comparison with Larry and LeBron is somewhat unfair. They’re two completely different players. Bird was ‘the straw that stirred the drink’ for the Dream Team. He was the ultimate team player (passing, shooting, intangibles). LeBron actually provides similar abilities. He passes well and gets his teammates the ball. Bird was probably the best shooter to step on the court. LeBron doesn’t match-up in this regard, but he’s still young and has time to grow and develop. LeBron brings something that Bird doesn’t…he’s an incredibly athletic, physical specimen. Call me crazy…

Edge: LeBron, by a hair

Barkley vs. Carmelo
Charles was perhaps the best rebounder ever. People didn’t call him the ‘Round Mound of Rebound’ for nothing. By the time he played for the Suns, he had an unreal all-around game…shooting, scoring, rebounding, passing. He was powerful! Carmelo can score with the best of ‘em, but he doesn’t do much else. He deserves his star-status, but he doesn’t match up to the Chuck-ster.

Edge: Barkley

Ewing vs. Howard
Ewing owns the advantage over Dwight Howard. He was an immensely skilled and powerful center. He was tough to stop in the post. Howard may be considered the most athletic center to play hoops, but his skills don’t match up to Patrick Ewing.

Edge: Ewing, by a little


Stockton vs. Deron
For a Jazz fan, this comparison is intriguing. Stockton is our legend, our hero. In ’92, he was close to playing his best basketball. He holds the all-time assists and steals record. He was the best point-guard at “setting the table” for his teammates…perfect fit for the Dream Team. Deron (I believe) is on his way to greatness. He’s also a perfect fit for the Redeem Team…unselfish, great passer and outside shooter. Every team needs a good passer.

Edge: Stockton, closely contested

Drexler vs. Wade
I believe this is the best comparison of all. Talk about similar players with similar abilities. Clyde the Glide was smooth and acrobatic. Wade might be the better ball-handler and defender. Wade played tremendous ball during the Olympics (perhaps considered the MVP). He’s been utterly amazing for the US…bringing back his Miami Heat championship form.

Edge: Wade

Pippen vs. Prince
Not even close. Pippen was a superstar defender and athletic full court player. He was a fantastic role player for the Dream Team. Pippen might actually compare favorably to LeBron. Tayshaun’s solid, but nothing spectacular.

Edge: Pippen, undoubtedly

Malone vs. Boozer
Our second Jazz player comparison falls far shorter than the first one. The Mailman was a legend, an icon, a franchise carrier. He was unreal running the floor, playing the post, rebounding defending and scoring the ball. Unreal! A better comparison for Malone might be Amare Stoudamire. Boozer is a very good player with an impressive, offensive post game. That’s about where the comparison ends.

Edge: The Mailman, in a landslide

Robinson vs. Bosh
Two lanky post players who play left-handed in the paint. Robinson was plain and simply better. Bosh is young and still has time, but doesn’t possess the strength that Robinson had.

Edge: Robinson

Mullin vs. Redd
Michael Redd is a poor man’s version of Chris Mullin. Mullin’s shot ranks as one of the best ever. Redd shoots it well, but not at Mullin's standard.

Edge: Mullin

Laettner vs. Paul
We can all agree that this comparison should have been Isaiah Thomas and Chris Paul. Can you believe Christian Laettner was on the Dream Team?

Edge: Chris Paul

OK. So…the Redeem Team comparison to the Dream Team doesn’t ‘hold water’. Even so, with the Redeem Team facing tougher competition over the course of the Olympic Games (comparatively to the Dream Team), they played remarkable basketball to reclaim Gold and the top spot of the basketball world landscape. With this fact alone, we should all be proud of our ballplayers in Red, White and Blue! WINNER: DREAM TEAM


Tucker McCann said...

But "athletically" speaking, I think LeBron is the best Athlete in the world, much better than Kobe. What Kobe has on LeBron is shooting. But pure athletics? LeBron is a FREAK!

JC said...

you forgot about Chuck Daley vs. Mike Krzyekziskziksizki.

Orlando said...

Great summary. It is amazing how much talent that original team had, even if some players (Bird) were past their primes.

It's hard to compare the coaches, when Daly just had to roll out the balls and hope no one on Angola got run over, while Coach K actually had to prepare for games.

olsonsfoodemporium said...

Quite useful data, thank you for this article.