faceoff: who's better - the 1992 dream team or the 2008 redeem team?

The Baltimore Sun

We just watched the best U.S. men's basketball team to play in the Olympics since at least 1996.

But is the Redeem Team better than the Dream Team? Come on. Here's a little exercise. I'm coaching the 1992 team. You tell me how you're going to beat me with the 2008 team.

You probably want to create turnovers and run our older legs off the court. But I can start three guys - Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson - who bring the ball upcourt. They're all 6-foot-6 or taller, and they can all pass. Magic is the best fast-break orchestrator of all time. Jordan, Pippen and Clyde Drexler are three of the best wing finishers. And don't forget about Karl Malone, the best running power forward of all time, or David Robinson, the fastest 7-footer ever. Yeah, you guys don't want to run with us.

So maybe you want to bang it out in the half court. OK, I'll put in Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley. I know Chris Bosh played great in Beijing, but you're telling me that skinny fella is going to keep Ewing and Sir Charles from the rim? Don't think so. And don't forget that our point guard is 6-foot-9 and played center in the NBA Finals. He can post up and pick you guys apart. Oh, and don't think you'll beat us by playing zone. Chris Mullin and Larry Bird will light you up from outside.

I know, you believe your LeBron James-Kobe Bryant-Dwyane Wade troika can't be defended. That's true to a point, but I'll stick Pippen on LeBron and Jordan on Kobe and take my chances. Wade is a super sub, but my top reserve, Drexler, is bigger, just as athletic and just as versatile.

The 2008 squad played better competition, you're thinking. True enough. But Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas Marciulionis made Lithuania pretty potent in 1992. We beat them by only 51 in the semifinal. And Croatia started NBA standouts Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja and Drazen Petrovic. We beat them by 32. Meanwhile, you guys couldn't stop Rudy Fernandez or Juan Carlos Navarro in your nail-biter against Spain.

Finally, we have Jordan and you don't. Kobe might be the best knockoff, but the real thing scored more, shot better, defended more ferociously and played a pretty fair point guard in Barcelona. He's the best ever, the guy even Michael Phelps wants to meet. Anything you can do, he can do better. Checkmate.

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