DimeMag

Forget 2012, The 2008 Redeem Team Would Beat The Dream Team

Last weekend I watched one of my favorite “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episodes, “Palestinian Chicken.” I tried coming up with my Mount Rushmore for Curb episodes but then my OCD kicked in and this sentence turned into a 20-minute meltdown – in case anyone was wondering. Now, for those who haven’t seen this episode or don’t watch the show, Larry David attends a dinner party with some close friends. As dinner is winding down, Juliet, the host, asks everyone how the potatoes were. The following takes place:

Juliet: “So, how were the potatoes?”
Everyone at the table: “Good.” “Really good.” “Delicious.”
Larry: “Actually, the potatoes were…a little cold.”

You see, everyone at the table was being polite. Even though the potatoes were a little cold, they acted respectful and courteous because they were guests in Juliet’s home and didn’t want to disrupt the meal. Most normal people would have acted the same in that situation, choosing to ignore the slightly undercooked potatoes for the sake of having a pleasant evening. Larry on the other hand could give two shits about social convention. Juliet asked how the potatoes were, so instead of pretending like they were actually good, he told her the truth. “They were a little cold.”

Much like Larry David, I too have little regard for social conventions. And one convention I’ve grown sick of lately is the vehement worshipping of the 1992 Dream Team. Since the release of NBA TV’s “Dream Team” documentary, and Kobe‘s recent comments regarding the ’92 team, the media has gone completely overboard in their efforts of assuring the public how invincible that team really was.

Well I have a news flash for everyone: “The potatoes were actually a little cold.”

And while I don’t think this current Olympic team could have beaten the “almighty” 1992 Dream Team like Kobe stated, I think the 2008 Redeem Team would have.

Are you serious? The Dream Team is the greatest team ever assembled in the history of team sports! They had Magic, Bird AND Jordan. They won ever game by 44 points! They had 11 Hall of Famers!

That’s the spark noted version of what I get when I tell people I think the 2008 Redeem Team would have beaten the ’92 Dream Team. Watching people lose their shit has actually become pretty entertaining (I may have stumbled upon MTV’s new hidden camera reality show. At the very least it’s better than the “Pauly D Project”.) And because I’ve had this argument so many times with so many different people, I’ve started to notice certain patterns of inaccuracy.

The first thing people need to realize when having this debate is that “Bird and Magic” weren’t actually “Bird and Magic.” Bird’s body was breaking down and Magic hadn’t played basketball in a year. In 1989, Bird played only six games before ending his season to have bone spurs surgically removed from both heels. He missed 22 games in ’91 to a compressed nerve root in his back and 37 games in ’92 after offseason surgery to remove a disc from his back. During the Olympics, he averaged just 8.4 ppg. Not exactly Bird-esque.

Magic had been retired for a year following his positive testing of HIV before joining the ’92 team. Once in Barcelona, Magic missed two games with a banged-up knee and averaged just eights points and five assists.

So enough with the “Bird and Magic” argument, okay? With all due respect, both were old, banged-up and couldn’t guard a single guy on the 2008 team.

Next up is Stockton and Mullin, two guys who, in my opinion, wouldn’t even have made the ’08 team. Stockton, who only played in four of the eight games in Barcelona due to injury, attempted a total of eight shots and averaged just two assists. And in case your comeback for these two guys was that both rarely played and wouldn’t be on the court against the ’08 team, Mullin attempted the fourth-most shots during the Olympics behind Jordan, Barkley and Drexler. Yep, Drexler and Mullin as options three and four.

With Bird and Stockton both injured, Magic who hadn’t played basketball in a year, Mullin, and Duke senior Christian Laettner – that’s 40 percent of your supposed “greatest team ever assembled in the history of team sports.”

And let’s not forget when they lost to a bunch of college kids once upon a time. And don’t try and give me that substitution excuse. They were playing against 19 and 20-year-old kids. That should never happen.

Now let’s look at the 2008 Redeem Team…

G Jason Kidd
G Chris Paul
G Deron Williams
G Kobe Bryant
G Dwyane Wade
G Michael Redd
F LeBron James
F Carmelo Anthony
F Tayshaun Prince
F Carlos Boozer
F Chris Bosh
C Dwight Howard

Sure, they didn’t win each game by 44 points like the Dream Team did in 1992. But you know what they did do? They won each game by an average of 26 points against the highest level of international talent ever seen. It’s amazing to me that no one ever mentions that…

I just don’t see the big deal behind the whole “44-point margin of victory” stat. You don’t think LeBron, Kobe, Wade, ‘Melo, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard could have beaten the ’92 international competition by 40-plus points – because, newsflash, they could have. In 1992, there were 21 international players in the NBA. Today, 20 percent of the NBA is international. The Dream Team beat up on guys who wanted pictures and autographs after the game. The Redeem Team beat up on NBA-level talent… by 26 points.

Yes, the 1992 Dream Team was a historic team. Yes, they transcended the game of basketball and turned it into a global phenomenon. Yes, they’re responsible for inspiring the majority of the international talent in our game today. Yes, they had 11 Hall of Famers who dominated the competition and captivated audiences around the world. But would they have beaten the 2008 Redeem Team?

Nope.

The first major advantage for the Redeem Team in this imaginary matchup is their quickness at the point guard position. Thirty-two-year-old Magic Johnson and injured John Stockton wouldn’t be able to guard Chris Paul and Deron Williams and that’s about as nicely as I can put it. If you watched the Dream Team doc, Stockton couldn’t even keep his kids in front of him, let alone D-Will and CP3. Some sort of adjustment would need to be made – probably sliding Pippen or Jordan over to guard the one, which consequently leaves Pippen/Jordan, Drexler and Mullin to matchup with LeBron, Kobe, Wade and ‘Melo. Yikes.

This leads to my next point. I don’t see how ’92 matches up with the Redeem Team on the perimeter. If you watched the ’08 Olympics, Coach K often put these four guys (LeBron, Kobe, Wade and ‘Melo) on the court together with either D-Will or CP3. If he was to do this against the Dream Team, and he would because going small is their biggest advantage, how would the Dream Team matchup? Jordan probably takes Kobe, and Pippen on LeBron, leaving Drexler and Mullin to guard Wade and ‘Melo because Bird and Magic physically couldn’t be on the court. Two huge miss-matches right there, especially with whomever Mullin is guarding. You could throw Barkley out there, but I don’t see him being able to keep Wade/’Melo in front way out on the perimeter. Way out of his comfort zone. Almost as much as golf.

The one advantage the Dream Team has in the matchup is their size. With Barkley, Malone, Ewing, and Robinson, they’re definitely bigger down low. The ’08 team would have to make a conscious effort to attack the glass – keeping in mind though they still have the NBA’s leading rebounder four of the last five years in Dwight Howard. Add the size, strength and versatility of LeBron and ‘Melo and I think the Redeem team finds a way to hang down low.

And if we’re sticking with the Dream Team going big, I think the ’08 guys get out in transition and slowly run this team off the court. Robinson, Ewing and Malone aren’t keeping up with Kobe and Wade on the break. No way. To me, this just sounds like a layup drill for the Redeem Team.

Time to wrap this thing up. Anyway you look at it, the Redeem Team comes out on top. The ’92 team can’t match up athletically, and the speed and quickness disparity puts this thing right over the top. If the Dream Team goes big and tries to overpower ’08, I see them getting run off the court. If they try and guard them straight up – there’s mismatches all over the board. I just see too much speed and athleticism for the Dream Team to handle. And with LeBron, Kobe, Wade and Chris Paul on defense, I think the Redeem Team has just enough different bodies and looks to throw at Jordan to keep him at bay.

Sorry Juliet, the potatoes were a little cold.

Would the Redeem Team beat the Dream Team?

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