Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson of the Dream Team from left to right. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Kobe Bryant's recent remarks that the 2012 U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team is better and could beat the 1992 U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team has had Dream Team members Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan laugh out loud. Despite the fact that the match-up is impossible, let's take a look at the two teams and see how they stack up statistically.
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Here are key players from both teams to let you decide which one you think would win.
Point Guard (Chris Paul vs. Magic Johnson)
Chris Paul is one of the most exciting players in the game today, and along with teammate Blake Griffin, arguably the most electric duo. Paul's career averages are 18.8 ppg, 9.8 apg, 4.5 rpg, and 2.5 spg.
Magic Johnson on the other hand is one of the greatest players to have ever played, and considered by many the greatest point guard. His career averages are 19.5 ppg, 11.2 apg, 7.2 rpg, and 1.9 spg. Oh yeah, and he won five NBA championships, including one in his rookie year replacing an injured Kareem.
Shooting Guard (Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan)
What's there to really say here? These are two of the most prolific players ever, Kobe with five NBA championships and Jordan with six. Stats aren't important here - both players will do anything to win. Both can play defense, and both have proven themselves able to hit the buzzer-beating shot. Both can post, shoot the three, and drive into the paint. The only difference here? Jordan was 29 years old when he played for the 1992 Dream Team, Kobe will be 33 years old when he plays in London in 2012.
Small Forward (Lebron James, Kevin Durant vs. Larry Bird)
Here's an interesting match-up. Bird was a crisp shooter, a deft passer, and played the game with a fundamental finesse that hasn't really been seen since (except for maybe Tim Duncan). Fresh off winning the NBA championship and a monster season, James's explosive style would create trouble for Bird (or anyone else really). Durant is an amazing scorer who can put up points from almost anywhere in the court at any time.
But Bird has proven that time and time again, he knew the right thing to do at the right time.
Big Men (Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Tyson Chandler vs. Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, and Charles Barkley)
This is the only battle where I would say that the 1992 Dream Team should win. Ewing, Robinson, and Barkley are all top 50 players of all time, and all of them are in the Hall of Fame. Griffin is fun to watch, Love has really come into his own, and Chandler has proven himself a hard worker, but in the end, we will see
I haven't mentioned the likes of Karl Malone, Carmelo Anthony or any of the other amazing basketball players, but my comparisons are based on my own personal preferences. In either way, both teams field the best talent from America.