From the comfort of my couch I send a shout-out to
Like the veteran knuckleballer, I've been summoned from the bullpen to perform the obvious -- compare the Redeem Team to the Dream Team. Not in terms of global popularity (no matter how many times you've seen
As the Food Network would put it: Whose cuisine would reign supreme? What we're examining here is a game between Team '92 in its prime against Team '08, which held off Spain 118-107 on Sunday to win the gold.
First of all, discount margin of victory, which was an astounding 43.8 for the Dream Team, compared to 27.9 for this year's team. NBA-caliber players on international teams were a rarity when
The pressure, too, is a wash. Bird joked that if the '92 team lost, it "wouldn't be allowed back in the country," the very idea of NBA players losing to lesser lights being laughable at that point in time. But though the template of top European teams beating thrown-together Americans is now well established, the Redeem Teamers had just as heavy a burden on their collective back. Indeed, with USA Basketball czar
But my feeling is that the '92 team would prevail. That's not merely old-school sentiment talking (though I can't deny there's some of that), but cold, hard facts. Here are a few of them:
• The best all-around player on the '08 team was
• The '08 team could not begin to match the Dreamers on the interior. Not only did the '92-ers have two classic centers in
• The '08 team is deeper at the point with a combination of
• The '08 team played hard on defense (though it had few answers for Spain in the final), but the Dream Team was better at that end of the court. If you saw Jordan shut down Lithuania's
Keep in mind that this is not in any way a condemnation of the '08 team, which comported itself splendidly both on and off the court. It is merely to say that it would not beat the once and future kings who set a standard that will probably never be matched.