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The 1992 Dream Team is widely considered the greatest in the history of basketball. Featuring Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin and Christian Laettner, the US Olympic squad eviscerated opponents by an average of more than forty points. In the process, they won fans across the world, became even bigger stars and eventually earned a collective spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame. If you take it from Kobe Bryant, however, the Dream Team would likely lose to this year’s collection of NBA players slated to represent the United States.
Calling it “a tough one”, Bryant recently told ESPN, the 2012 team would likely win because of “young racehorses” who are “eager to compete” and a collection of faster wings who could outrun the older players from ’92.
Not surprisingly, the always candid Charles Barkley had something to say about Kobe’s assessment. During a pointed commentary on the Mike Missanelli Show, the Hall of Famer said he laughed when he first heard the all-star’s take because the ’92 team wouldn’t just beat the new squad but blow them out by double digits.
How old is Kobe Bryant? He's 34? And he's calling us old? At the time, we were only like 28, 29. Michael Jordan and me were the same age. We were both 29. Other than Kobe, LeBron and Kevin Durant, I don't think anybody else on that team makes our team.
Those words might sound a bit vicious, but when you start breaking it down, he’s probably right. Larry Bird’s back was destroyed by the time he got to the Olympics and Christian Laettner was just a college kid, but beyond those two, the Dream Team was a thundering machine. Barkley was unstoppable down low. Jordan was the best player of all-time in his prime. David Robinson and Patrick Ewing were rebounding machines. John Stockton was one of the best pure point guards of all-time. Karl Malone could put up thirty whenever he wanted to, and that’s to say nothing of Pippen, Mullin and Drexler who were three of the best complimentary players ever. Plus, even with a destroyed back, Bird was still the best shooter and one of the best passers in the world. Every guy on that team but Laettner made the Hall of Fame on his own merits and would have whether the Dream Team existed or not.
I’m glad Kobe has confidence in this current team. They should be unbeatable at the Olympics, but they’d still lose to Barkley, Jordan & company by fifteen minimum.