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1992 Dream Team vs. 2008 Redeem Team: Who Would Win Between Two Legendary USA Teams?

1992 Dream Team vs. 2008 Redeem Team: Who Would Win Between Two Legendary USA Teams?

The NBA is the greatest basketball league in the world, and a ton of superstar players have dominated professional basketball in North America since the very beginning. Based on their skill set, mentality, and physical toughness; American players have brought an excellent dynamic to the NBA game. But one particular collection of players got a chance to show its true power against the rest of the world, and that is the so-called 1992 “Dream Team”.

Many fans might not know this, but the reason the USA “Dream Team” was put together was to stifle the threat of the rest of the world (especially Yugoslavia, Spain, and Argentina) because the talent and capabilities in Europe were immense. But the Americans dominated in 1992, destroying the competition through the scoring of Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan alongside a host of incredible superstar players, including Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Karl Malone, among others. Team USA was unbelievable in 1992 and is considered the greatest collection of talent we have ever seen.

However, 16 years later, a “Redeem Team” was formed. Led by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, Team USA was once again on top of the world when it came to NBA basketball. They went undefeated in the tournament, going 5-0 in the preliminary rounds and defeating every opponent until the Final, where they defeated Spain 118-107, thanks to Kobe Bryant’s clutch plays and Dwyane Wade’s scoring. Wade ended up leading all scorers in Team USA with an average of 16.0 PPG.

Obviously, the Redeem Team was formed to challenge the Dream Team in 1992. Both squads are stacked with Hall of Fame talents and were equally as dominant in their times against the rest of the world. But which iconic international team would come out on top if they were to play against each other in a 7-game-series? Clearly, this would be a matchup for the ages, but there could only be one winner. Here are the starting lineups, bench, and each team’s advantages before deciding which team wins in the end.

Starting Lineup

1992 Dream Team vs. 2008 Redeem Team

1992 Dream Team: Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone

2008 Redeem Team: Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard

The 1992 Dream Team is shockingly great. They have 3 of the top-10 players of all time on the same roster and are all starting in Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird. At some point, each one of these players was considered the best in the world and won multiple MVP awards and Finals MVP awards. Magic is the greatest point guard ever, Jordan tops the charts as a shooting guard, and Bird challenges LeBron James as the best small forward. Joining them were leading scorer Charles Barkley (16.3 PPG) and Karl Malone, two of the greatest offensive big men in NBA history. Obviously, the Dream Team was built on winning intangibles and toughness across the board.

The 2008 Redeem Team was headlined by Kobe Bryant (the captain), LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade - the three best players in the world at that time. The trio were offensively dominant and were unstoppable players in their primes. Joining them was superstar offensive player Carmelo Anthony, who is considered one of the greatest players in Team USA history. At the center, defensive phenom Dwight Howard was tasked with doing the dirty work and dominating the paint by rebounding and blocking shots. The Redeem Team captured the best players at each position and had unstoppable offensive ability.

Magic Johnson vs. Dwyane Wade

Magic Johnson vs. Dwyane Wade

Team USA clearly chose Magic Johnson to handle the ball and make choices on the court because he is the model of a team player. On the court, Magic also excels in a variety of other tasks, such as rebounding and creating plays that help his team gain momentum. Wade and Magic are two very different players, but they each have a lot to offer their teams. As a 6’9’’ point guard with elite winning intangibles, Magic headlines the team with tremendous ball-handling ability.

Dwyane Wade brings elite slashing ability and defense as the starting guard of the Redeem Team. Wade is not a natural point guard, although he started because of the chemistry and talent he created with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Wade can slash the ball better than most in NBA history and will have to deal with a bigger guard in Magic Johnson. Wade will also be one of the leading scorers for the Redeem Team in the series.

Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant

Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant

Michael is the greatest player of all time, and the most dominant player in the series, even when competing against a dominant shooting guard in Kobe Bryant. Jordan will benefit from playing alongside Magic and Bird, two unselfish superstars who will willingly feed him to lead the scoring. Of course, Jordan will reward them with passes during double-teams and also by competing viciously on defense. Of course, this will be the marquee matchup because Michael against another dominant guard usually creates unlimited highlights.

Kobe Bryant is the second-greatest shooting guard ever and is basically a photocopy of Jordan on offense. Bryant will have to understand LeBron, Wade, and Anthony need their touches, and he will gladly take half a step back in terms of sharing the ball in Mike Krzyzewski’s system. But Bryant will want to defend Jordan, and this matchup will create a ton of exciting moments throughout the series. Expect Kobe to share scoring duties with Wade, LeBron, and Carmelo while competing on defense just as hard.

Larry Bird vs. LeBron James

Larry Bird vs. LeBron James

Larry Bird is a winner, make no mistake about it. Bird is a tremendous shooter who will gladly take a small backseat to Magic and Jordan, two players who will create shots for him. Larry Bird will use his quick release to let loose from the perimeter, and will often come through. When it comes to playmaking and rebounding, Bird will be effective because of his unselfishness and team play. Against a dominant player in LeBron James, Larry Bird will need to pull out all the tricks in the books to gain an advantage at all costs.

LeBron James will be selected for the small forward position in order to offset Larry Bird’s scoring prowess. As the team's primary ball-handler, LeBron James will set up Wade, Anthony, and Bryant flawlessly on each possession. James is incredibly selfless since the greatest way for his team to win is for Anthony to come off screens and Bryant to receive the ball in his areas. This will be an incredible matchup between LeBron and Bird, easily the two greatest small forwards of all time.

Charles Barkley vs. Carmelo Anthony

Charles Barkley vs. Carmelo Anthony

Though the likes of Dwight Howard and Carlos Boozer will be problems on the floor, Charles Barkley is one of the best paint threats in history. Since Barkley is most effective at functioning low, he will need to practice clearing space for himself despite playing alongside another Hall of Fame big man alongside him. Charles will play his best basketball during this time and be a huge asset to his team in terms of rebounding the ball and scoring in the paint. As an active power forward, Charles also has a natural advantage over Carmelo Anthony.

Carmelo will struggle defending Charles at times, although he will make it up for tremendous offensive ability. The superstar forward will make perimeter shots, rebound the ball, and create opportunities for himself. He is not a natural playmaker, which means plays set for Anthony will result in him taking shots. As one of the leading scorers for the Redeem Team, Carmelo will have to put pressure on Charles to pull him out onto the perimeter. Of course, Anthony is a clutch player in big moments, like Larry Bird.

Karl Malone vs. Dwight Howard

Karl Malone vs. Dwight Howard

The ideal big man contest between two physical specimens will come down to the Dream Team against the Redeem Team. Two superstar big men, Karl Malone and Dwight Howard, will duel it out throughout the entire series. Due to his gorgeous mid-range jumper, Malone has the advantage in scoring, but Howard has it on defense. Both players will have a significant effect on their respective teams.

Because of this, it will be difficult to tell them apart. Malone and Barkley will form a formidable pair, but so will Howard and a mix of Anthony, LeBron, Boozer, and Bosh. Malone will gain more from his guard play than Duncan would, as Magic can probably do a better job of simulating the Stockton-Malone pick-and-roll. Obviously, Stockton will come into the game to continue the action. On the other end, Dwight Howard will lead his team in RPG and BPG, crashing the boards with tremendous athleticism and power.


1992 Dream Team Bench: John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, Christian Laettner, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing

2008 Redeem Team Bench: Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Michael Redd, Tayshaun Prince, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh

The 1992 Dream Team was once again stacked with superstar players and Hall of Famers across the board. Only Christian Laettner was not a Hall of Famer, although he was a talented offensive player. John Stockton, the all-time NBA leader in assists and steals, backs up Magic Johnson, and that was enough. Clyde Drexler and Chris Mullin brought scoring and shooting ability and were the firestarters off the bench. That backcourt alone was enough to cause trouble for the rest of the world when the subs come in.

Of course, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan’s superstar NBA teammate, was the primary defender off the bench and also handled ball-handling duties. Scottie was an NBA champion for a reason, and his partnership with Jordan made the Dream Team even scarier. Laettner has the ability to score, and the big men duo of Robinson and Ewing made the Dream Team petrifying on the court. The big man rotation of Barkley, Malone, Robinson, and Ewing means no other team has 4 elite Hall of Fame paint enforcers and scorers.

Meanwhile, the 2008 Redeem Team has a tremendous trio of elite ball-handlers, playmakers, and leaders off the bench with Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams. Either player is good enough to start for Team USA, although they will share minutes off the bench. Kidd is the best defender of the group and also the most physically imposing. Paul is the best shooter, and Williams brings an innate ability to attack the rim with explosiveness. No doubt, Team USA benefitted greatly by having three superstar point guards at their best in 2008.

Michael Redd is an incredible shooter, having shot over 38% the past two seasons before 2008. His ability to make outside shots is invaluable for the Redeem Team when the superstar playmakers and offensive players pass and swing the ball in Mike Krzyzewski’s system. Tayshaun Prince, similar to Scottie Pippen for the Dream Team, was required to be the primary defender off the bench and brought elite length and defense to the team. Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh, two elite scorers, completed the big man rotation for the 2008 Team USA.

1992 Dream Team Advantages

The 1992 Dream Team is built on winning intangibles, toughness, and elite big men play. Magic Johnson is arguably the greatest leader in sports history, with his ability to uplift other players around him and create a contender with his playmaking ability. No doubt, there hasn’t been a better point guard with winning intangibles. Behind him is John Stockton, another winning player with efficient playmaking. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are considered the best duo in NBA history, and they are key cogs in Team USA. Of course, Jordan is the greatest winner ever and has perfect intangibles.

The big man rotation of Barkley, Malone, Robinson, and Ewing meant Team USA could play mean and aggressive along with their skill. No other country has this amount of big-man talent, and that was a major factor in the Dream Team destroying the competition. Each of these bigs is nowhere near being “finesse” and instead focused on dominating the paint. Larry Bird, a winner, and competitor of the highest order, will not accept the team not being cut-throat against the opposition. The Dream Team is clearly “dreamy” in terms of toughness, winning intangibles, skill, and athleticism.

2008 Redeem Team Advantages

The 2008 Dream Team has elite offensive ability, especially when it comes to shooting. Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Michael Redd, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Chris Bosh are elite shooters from the floor and can all create space from the perimeter. Anytime these shooters are placed alongside elite slashers in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the USA Redeem Team will be able to destroy the opposition. Against a dominant Dream Team, the Redeem Team needs to make outside shots.

Meanwhile, the 2008 Redeem Team also has some finesse and versatile players who bring awkward matchups. Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players in Team USA history because he occupied the power forward position and brought elite shot-making and speed to his position. The trio of point guards off the bench brings a different look at any moment, and the likes of Tayshaun Prince can play critical defense against an elite scorer on the opposition. Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer are strong scorers from mid-range, and the former can even stretch to the three-point line. Overall, the Redeem Team has tremendous versatility to create awkward matchups under a terrific head coach in Mike Krzyzewski.

Who Would Win A 7-Game Series?

This series will go down to the wire, although the first 2 games are even blowouts. Games 1 goes to the Dream Team because the duo of Magic and Jordan work unbelievably well. The Redeem Team will have a very tough time defending Jordan in the pick n roll, while number 23 will make a living coming off the big men’s screens. Magic has a virtuoso performance in Game 1, resulting in a 110-92 victory. Jordan drops 32 points on 60% shooting, while Magic has 11 points and 17 assists. Johnson creates the iconic “Showtime” style offense by pushing the ball, finding Jordan, and allowing the shooting guard to lead the offense. On the other end, LeBron and Wade have a good game, but it isn’t enough.

As expected, the Redeem Team adjusted. LeBron puts his head down and dominates in terms of creating for others, posting 20 points and 12 assists to go along with 8 rebounds. Wade leads all scorers with 27 points, but Kobe is the killer at the end of the game. With the game down to the wire at the end of the game, Kobe Bryant’s back-to-back three-pointers end the game for his side because Mike Krzyzewski ensures LeBron’s dominant performance does not go to waste and draws plays well. The first play was to go towards Carmelo Anthony, but he is covered, and he feeds Bryant, who jabs and drains a three. In the next play, Bryant yells for the ball from James and drains it again, essentially ending the game 106-100. Instead of falling 0-2, the Redeem Team evens the series.

Game 3 is all about Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. The GOAT drops 37 points, going toe-to-toe with Bryant, who manages 35 points of his own. The shooting guard battle goes down to the wire in the 4th quarter, but Larry Bird has the final say in the fourth quarter. He scored 12 points in the fourth, including going 2-2 from three and hitting two very tough jumpers over LeBron and Carmelo to suck the life out of the opponent. With a score of 112-102, the Redeem Team fails to score the final 2 minutes of the game and have to focus on Game 4 with the hopes of evening the series.

Once again, Jordan has an incredible game in Game 4. After poor offensive performances from Barkley, Johnson, and Malone; the shooting guard is forced to drop 40 points. Thanks to defensive assignments given to Bryant and LeBron, Jordan shoots below 45%. That gives the Redeem Team enough chance to overcome Jordan’s firepower, as Howard and Boozer put up monster double-doubles in the game. The Redeem Team takes the lead midway into the fourth quarter, holding a 100-92 lead. But they go cold again as Jordan and Pippen finish the quarter alongside Magic, Jordan, and David Robinson.

This lineup proves to be the difference on defense, getting critical stops with each player scoring a bucket in the final 5 minutes. With a score of 104-104, Jordan comes off a Robinson screen to receive the ball and attacks the rim, drawing the foul on Howard before draining two free throws. The Redeem Team has 10 seconds to get a good shot, and it falls to Carmelo. His three-pointer barely rims out, and the Dream Team has a significant 3-1 lead.

In a pivotal Game 5, all players play up to par. Especially Charles Barkley, who has a dominant game, manages 25 points and 15 rebounds. But the game is all about the 4th quarter, where the Redeem Team finds their rhythm on offense. The Redeem Team finish the quarter on 52% shooting while making all their free throws as well. Wade scores 30, and Bryant with Melo combines for 4 threes. As expected, the trio of point guards off the bench prove to be the difference as they combine for 20 assists alone. The Redeem Team wins the fourth quarter, 40-25, and they win the game convincingly 120-108.

Obviously, the Dream Team realize they have a shot to end the series in Game 6. The first half is tied 60-60, in a relatively high-scoring affair with the key stars showing up. Jordan and Barkley lead the Dream Team with 10 points apiece, while Wade and Bryant have 8 each. The third quarter is won by the Redeem Team, as the bench comes to life and scores a combined 15 points. That is led by Deron Williams and Chris Paul, who score 6 apiece. The fourth starts with a score of 88-80 in favor of the Redeem Team. But the Dream Team woke up and put the finishing touches to end the series before Game 7. Jordan finishes the game with 30 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Magic and Bird also have big quarters, while only Kobe and Carmelo prove to be the consistent performers in the fourth. The game ends 110-105, as the Dream Team gets 3 straight stops before getting buckets from Jordan, Barkley, and Bird. For his clutch performances and ability to lead the team in scoring, Michael Jordan wins Finals MVP.

Final Result: 1992 Dream Team vs. 2008 Redeem Team 4-2

Finals MVP: Michael Jordan


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