The Redeem Team obviously wasn't as glamorous as its Dream Team predecessors; neither did it enjoy what amounted to the wire-to-wire triumphal procession that Michael Jordan and company had in Barcelona 16 years ago. But, as shocking as the suggestion might be, the 2008 version of the U.S. national basketball team would have beaten the 1992 squad that has been canonized over the years - at least in the international arena.
Where the Dream Team had advantages are obvious. The Dreamers had two 7-footers (Patrick Ewing and David Robinson) while the Redeemers had none and, of course, the '92 team included perhaps the best player in the history of the game, plus Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
But here's the thing: When was that team's mettle ever tested?
The Redeemers, on the other hand, had to contend with the weight of past American disappointments and the challenge of much more talented competition that has often shown itself more adept at playing the international game than NBA All-Stars.
In the end, the Redeem Team had to demonstrate that it could do something that was never required of the Dream Team - play defense. And don't tell me the Dreamers led in every defensive category because back then, opposing players were more concerned about scoring MJ's autograph than field goals.
Certainly, the first three of the Dreamers would seem to outclass the top three Redeemers (LeBron, Kobe and D-Wade). But the 2008 Olympians were more effective in using their bench, which allowed them to play more aggressively. Ten players averaged 11 minutes or more.
However, above everything, the Redeemers dedicated three years to honing their skills and actually becoming a cohesive unit for just eight games in Beijing. And hard workers will beat dreamers every time.