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News » Original Dream Team is still better ... but not much 2008-08-25


Original Dream Team is still better ... but not much 2008-08-25


Original Dream Team is still better ... but not much 2008-08-25
Redemption is inevitable.

Five contests into the Beijing Games, things have gone so well for this for the Men's USA Basketball team that managing director Jerry Colangelo has every reason to see gold in his dreams for another four years.

2008 Olympic Games


Medals


  • Check the Medal Tracker

News


  • Team USA tops Spain to regain gold
  • Official: Paperwork created age issue
  • U.S. wins men's volleyball gold
  • Olympian banned for kicking ref
  • Omega releases Phelps win photos
  • Brazil tops American women for gold
  • Cuban loses gold, kicks referee
  • Both 1,600 relays golden for U.S.
  • U.S, women claim hoops gold again
  • U.S. baseball wins bronze medal

Analysis


  • Rosenberg: Questions remain in Beijing
  • Whitlock: Critics spurred Redeem Team
  • Rosen: Team USA's road to redemption

Multimedia


  • PHOTOS: Farewell from Beijing
  • PHOTOS: Day 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1
  • PHOTOS: Olympic beauties | Mascots
  • PHOTOS: Women's beach volleyball
  • PHOTOS: Opening Ceremony

Coach Mike Krzyzewski can rest easily and go back to Duke with the satisfaction of knowing that the pseudo-NBA coaching job he's done has been a rousing success.

Just as important, this young group of players can be proud of the way they have handled themselves on and off the floor.

Now it's time to get serious.

Let's compare this team, winning by an average of 32.2 points a game to the original Dream Team of 1992, a group that has a lot to do with why the players of this generation fell in love with the game in the first place.

It's hard to fathom any group being capable of shutting down the talent of the trio of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade when they are so focused. Then again, they haven't had to deal with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Clyde Drexler defending them. At 6-9, 260, James is astoundingly strong with athleticism, explosiveness and skill that has never been seen before.

Then again, he's never had Charles Barkley or Karl Malone staring him down either.

The reason this year's team has been so effective has been its on-the-ball pressure flustering opponents into complete collapse, with a tower of strength in the presence of Dwight Howard to dominate the boards and intimidate.

Well, Bryant, James, Wade, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd — and throw in the ultra-long Tayshaun Prince just for good measure — wouldn't faze the ballhandling ability of Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Jordan, Pippen or Drexler one iota.

Does anybody in their right mind believe Howard would have his way with David Robinson and Patrick Ewing? It would have been a great experience for him to get throttled by Robinson and Ewing, not to mention Hakeem Olajuwon, during the regular NBA season just for educational purposes.

Unquestionably, the competition is light years beyond what it was in 1992, when the international basketball was in its infancy, but that's not to say this year's team is that much more impressive than the Chuck Daly-coached team that won by an average of 43.8 points a game. The closest game they had in '92 was a 117-85 win in the gold medal game against Croatia.

In all fairness, Colangelo certainly would have spent more time balancing out the team with size as opposed to really putting together the best group of talent. Prince was added for defense; Carlos Boozer for some bulk, Howard to play center, and Kidd for the conscience of moving the ball. Other than that, it was a grab-bag of super-athletes.

There could not be a better designed team than the way Rod Thorn put together the 1992 roster. They had great speed and athleticism with Jordan, Drexler and Pippen — with that odd combination of strength, power and athleticism that Barkley brought to the table. Malone with Barkley and Ewing combined to be as powerful and intimidating as any front line that has ever played in the Olympics.

There has never been a better point guard at finding ways for a team to reach its potential than Johnson, and Stockton is the all-time leader in assists and steals — in many ways defining the position. And when it comes to multi-skilled players with great hands, shooting ability, basketball sense and the versatility to make everybody them better — Larry Bird (although his back rendered him helpless in the 1992 Olympics) and Chris Mullin were perfect complements. It was ironic that Christian Laettner an All-American from Duke for Krzyzewski (who was an assistant to Daly) was added gratuitously and was never more than an average NBA player.

But it wasn't as if it mattered.

The way this year's team has responded, nothing else Colangelo could have done would have made them perform at a higher level. Extending their time together has made them bond stronger and accent each other's strengths. Four years ago they weren't ready, particularly not for the incessant bickering caused by Larry Brown as coach.

Krzyzewski is much better suited to deal with the impetuous inclinations of youth that the likes of Carmelo Anthony bring to the table. His teams at Duke have been dominated by teenagers more every year.

Daly was brought in to deal with adults. As the stories would have it, there was no more intense basketball that year than the intrasquad game played in Monte Carlo with Barkley talking trash to Jordan, Daly had to stop the game at midstream for fear of what those players would have done to each other before the Olympic games would have begun.

It was never about anything else but winning with the Dream Team, other than learning what it was like to be an international rock stars and emissaries as they were. The Redeem Team has finally figured that out, too. Colangelo, Krzyzewski — along with assistants Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan — have helped make sure they not only want to win, but to restore the love and respect the Dream Team initially introduced to the rest of the world.

And it has worked.

The pride and reverie restored by this group can't help but bring back memories of their forefathers, so to speak. In some ways it has been a relief because nobody was quite sure how this team would handle itself.

It isn't fair to compare this team to the Dream Team that introduced a different caliber of basketball to the rest of the world, and will forever be ingrained in the annals of pop culture as the greatest team ever assembled on any number of levels.

This team has earned its own place in history for restoring our faith in this generation of basketball to erase the sometimes-ugly drama of the past eight years and bringing the pride and the gold back home where they belong.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 26, 2008

 

 
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