It’s been funny to watch the media’s recent obsession with revisionist basketball history heading into the 2012 Summer Olympics. They’ve managed to stir up debates with everyone from President Barack Obama to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant about 1992′s “Dream Team” against the 2012 Olympic squad.
Who would win? Which team is better? What star from the last generation would best fit with this generation, and vise versa? Some epic arguments have taken place in recent months over this matter, and from the President to NBA players down to ordinary citizens, it’s all been a gigantic waste of good oxygen and keystrokes.
The truth of the matter is, when it comes down to it, there’s absolutely no overall difference between any two Olympic basketball teams, rendering generational comparisons useless in this case.
That’s why instead of speaking in technicalities, I choose to look at the whole tale of the tape. Allow me to break this argument down with several brutally honest facts on the matter everyone already knows but routinely fails to remember:
- The Dream Team was a collection of several talented, egotistical individuals.
- The 2012 Olympic team is a collection of several talented, egotistical individuals.
- The Dream Team played against largely subpar international competition.
- The 2012 Olympic team will play against largely subpar international competition.
- Had the Dream Team failed to win a gold medal, it would have been considered a colossal failure.
- If the 2012 Olympic team fails to win a gold medal, it will be a colossal failure.
Forget differences, it seems everyone is neglecting all the obvious similarities. There’s far too many to count, so splitting hairs on this matter isn’t nessecary. In fact, this is perhaps the saddest thing about Olympic competition in a sport like basketball. No matter who plays on the national team in America, the focus will always be on comparisons to past teams and not the present. Why? There’s not a country or continent in the world who can challenge the players of the United States throws on the court. American born second stringers for the Brooklyn Nets could probably win some of these games comfortably.
That is perhaps the biggest reason I’ll continue to root for an upstart squad of 7’2′ Yugoslavians to come along, beat the United States and upset the happy, perfect hoops apple cart. Then and only then will writers be forced to compare United States’ teams with someone other than themselves. Provided there was ever some actual international competition, maybe these silly catfights would stop. Perhaps then aging dream teamers wouldn’t feel the constant need to put the newer generation in their place, and would instead embrace and cheer for the new squads instead of looking down on them.
Like most Olympic sports, waiting for that will be waiting in vain. If the exhibition slate was any indication, the men’s basketball team will march unimpeded to the medal round once again. Maybe they’ll meet some small resistance from Spain, but expect another likely gold medal ceremony on the podium. It will be more interesting to see if this year’s squad breaks a sweat, or if there is some type of team dysfunction than watching the actual games.
Then, one day 20 years from now, LeBron James and Carmello Anthony can follow in the fine tradition of Jordan. They can call out the future American stars from their rocking chairs, wondering if their talent would translate to the same exact international cakewalk they once enjoyed.
Jordan, Kobe. Tomato, tomahto. Magic, LeBron. Potato, potahto. Where Olympic basketball is concerned, 1992 is 2012 and 2012 is 1992. The only real difference is 20 years.
Let’s call the whole thing off.