The question every sports fan of any age has been asking; The Dream Team or Redeem Team? The Dream team has legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, etc., and no team can compare to it. Nonetheless, the Redeem Team holds legends in the making with LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant.
You can make valid arguments on behalf of both teams that make it sound like they’re the better team. Now, I was two years old when the 1992 Olympic team took the court, so I can only say how good they are from what I have heard. Comparing these two teams that are 20 years apart form each other is no easy task, but we can compare their stats.
During their Olympic tournament run the numbers from both teams are pretty similar. The 2012 team shot better from thee-point range, but the Dream Team shot 56.5% from the field, edging out the 2012 team’s 52.3%.
The major edge the Dream Team holds over the 2012 team is that their big men are far more talented. The starting center for the 2012 team was Tyson Chandler. Chandler is the reigning 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, but I think even he would have a difficult time trying to stop Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, or David Robinson in the paint. The 2012 team wasn’t deep with big men. Their bench of big men consists of Anthony Davis, who has zero NBA experience, and Kevin Love.
However, the athleticism of the guards from the 2012 team may make the teams even. With Larry Bird in the starting lineup for the 1992 team, no way at the age of 35 could he guard Kevin Durant or LeBron James.
If these two teams were to ever face off, a huge factor you have to determine is their age. As shown in the stats, the average age of the Dream Team was 29, compared to the 2012 team who averaged just above 25.
Maybe one of the biggest factors that cannot be ignored is the competition. I don’t think anyone can argue that the teams the Redeem Team played in the 2012 Olympics were far more difficult than the competition the Dream Team had. The 2012 team definitely blew some teams out in the tournament, defeating their opponents by 32.1 ppg. That is nothing compared to the Dream Team beating teams by 43.8 ppg. Their winning margin would change drastically if they had to face All-Star players like Pau and Marc Gasol from Spain, Manu Ginobili from Argentina, or even a team like Brazil that has four NBA players on the roster.
The Dream Team faced Croatia in the 1992 Olympic Championship game. Compared to the 2012 Championship game opponent Spain, Croatia couldn’t tie Spain’s shoes. Croatia had zero NBA players on their roster, compared to 2012 Spain who had eight NBA players.
The NBA has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Back then it wasn’t common for players to enter the draft out of high school or after a year in college. So the average age of the Dream Team being nearly four years older than the team this year wasn’t surprising. Age and time of career is certainly something you must factor in. Jordan is in the prime of his career averaging 30 a game for the Bulls, but LeBron is also in the prime of his career. Magic Johnson is at the end of his career and did not play in the 1991-92 NBA season due to his health. At the age of 33, Kobe is no longer in his prime, but still hit a hot streak from beyond the arc.
It doesn’t matter how many times you go over the stats or how many computer simulations you do. Nobody will truly know the result of the game between The Dream Team vs.The Redeem Team. All you will ever know is if America comes out victorious (what else is new). In words of former Iowa QB and current Kansas City QB, RickyStanzi, “This is America, Love it or Leave it. U.S.A. #1”.