USA Basketball 2012: Dream vs. Reality
The Huffington Post's Sharief Easterling argues that, although people were outraged, Kobe Bryant was right when he said that this year's men's Olympic basketball team could beat the famous 1992 squad.
People get too caught up in the mystique and historical significance of the players that were on the Dream Team. Magic, Jordan, Bird, Pippen, Barkley represent the start of the "pro sports renaissance" that created the hundred-million dollar contract, endorsement driven market of today. To most fans these athletes symbolize the "golden era" of the sport, and this feeling manifests itself into the unrealistic belief that they're unbeatable. Of course they won every game by forty points, the opposition was sub par! Remember, we only used professional players in 1992 because we didn't win gold in 1988 when America was represented by college athletes. Nine out of ten times prior to that American amateurs won the gold. Somewhere along the line the rest of the world gradually narrowed the gap to a point where they could actually compete with the American pros.
The current international influence on the NBA is undeniable. In the past decade we've seen foreign born players like Tony Parker and Dirk Nowitzki win the NBA finals MVP. Some of the best players in the league are now actually from over seas, which drastically raises the level of talent for their respective countries. Players like Marc, and Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Luis Scola, Jose Calderon, Loul Deng and the recently retired Yao Ming all played Olympic Basketball for a country other than the United States. While Team USA is still superior its obvious why some of the games in 2012 are more competitive then those of 1992.
No disrespect to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird but they were certainly past their prime by the time the Dream Team was assembled. I find it hard to believe they'd be able to keep up with Kevin Durant, Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony at this point in their career.
Read Sharief Easterling's entire piece at the Huffington Post.
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