There’s something nobody could ever debate: Team USA has always dominated world basketball, and NBA players are always going to have a huge advantage over pretty much every single FIBA team.
As a matter of fact, Team USA actually plays their pre-world cup and pre Olympic matchups with teenagers or veterans that have never thrived in the NBA, and even so, they pretty much crush every opposition.
Nonetheless, there’s been a never-ending debate we’re keen to put to an end right now. Which team was better? The 1992 Dream team or the 2008 “Redeem Team”? Let’s go ahead and take a look at this.
In one hand, we have a team that featured arguably the greatest players in the history of the game, while the others came off a very disappointing bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics and was determined to get revenge and demolish every team that stood between them and the gold medal.
Today, we’re going to imagine a game between the two teams (all in their primes), and let you know who’s our pick to win it.
1992 Dream Team
PG: Magic Johnson
The Dream Team featured the greatest point guard in the history of the game, a human triple-double that could play and guard all 5 spots and had a great size advantage over every single one of his rivals.
Magic Johnson was, as his nickname states, a magician with the rock on his hands and the craftiest passer you’ll ever see (sorry, Jason Williams). He always came huge in the clutch and was the most unstoppable dime machine ever.
SG: Michael Jordan
Next to Magic, we find the greatest player in the history of the game and one of the best athletes overall. Jordan was never going to be denied of the ultimate glory, and he was right in his prime when he led Team USA in the Olympics.
Jordan was as a determinant in the defensive end as he was on offense, on a level no other player had ever been. Jordan was the most influential player ever, and up to this day, young ballers still want to be just like him.
SF: Larry Bird
Most of his haters may argue that Larry Bird was kind of slow and unathletic, but truth to be told, they just don’t know what they’re talking about. Bird always knew how to properly use his body to his advantage, even if his shot mechanic was kind of odd.
Bird was lights out from beyond the arc on a time players didn’t thrive off three-pointers as much as they do nowadays, not to mention he was a willing passer, a committed defender and an underrated rebounder.
PF: Charles Barkley
Even though Karl Malone was this team’s starter on paper, Charles Barkley was the best power forward in this team, at least when it comes to his stats. Chuck came up huge throughout the entire Olympics, as he knew that was his biggest chance at winning anything with MJ in the league.
Chuck was stronger and more determined than all of his peers. Despite being a bit overweight and vastly undersized for his position, he always found the way to make up for it with top-notch hustle. He was never going to be outplayed. Never.
C: David Robinson
To round up quite a physical frontcourt, the Dream Team featured David Robinson as their go-to-guy below the rim, a guy that could bully his way to the rim and then swat a shot with ease in the other end of the court.
Robinson was an incredibly strong rim protector, a solid overall defender and a guy that could stop everybody in the world not named Hakeem Olajuwon. He was strong, yet light-footed, and incredibly gifted in the offensive end as well.
Bench: John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, Christian Laettner
This team’s second unit is incredibly solid, and the only way it could’ve been better if by taking Christian Laettner out and Shaquille O’Neal, the way it should have always been, but that’s a different story.
Stockton is one of the best pure point guards in the history of the game, a two-way stud that created plays out of nowhere, playing next to Clyde Drexler, the best shooting guard not named Michael Jordan of his generation.
To round up the frontcourt, we’ve got Karl Malone, arguably the strongest power forwards ever and one of the most skilled and dominants scorers in the history of the game, as well as Chris Mullin, an underrated scorer we don’t praise enough.
Next to them, we’ve got Scottie Pippen, the Robin to Jordan’s Batman, and one of the main reasons why those Bulls were such a strong dynasty with his defense. Also, having Patrick Ewing as their backup big man granted them a center that could put the rock on the floor, create his own shot and bully his way around the paint.
2008 Redeem Team
PG: Chris Paul
Even though Jason Kidd was the team’s starter, he didn’t record much stats to brag about during his Redeem Team tenure. On the other hand, Chris Paul was surging as the league’s best point guard due to his great impact in both ends of the hardwood.
Paul is one of the craftiest passers you’ll ever see, not to mention he’s one of the best backcourt defenders in the league due to his suffocating pressing and lateral quickness. Also, he’s got one of the highest basketball IQs in the league, and it looks as if he had eyes on the back of his head to always find the open man.
SG: Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba was the team’s captain, so everybody on this team knew they’d better not fool around or they were going to get an earful. Kobe injected his Mamba Mentality and was a huge influence for his teammates, not to mention he was coming off one of the best seasons of his career.
What can we say about Kobe that you haven’t read before? He was one of the most dominant scorers to ever lace them up, and even though his haters may argue this, he never hesitated to give up a shot to an open teammate during his Team USA tenure.
SF: LeBron James
Right after the Olympics, LeBron James was about to take the league by the horns and build his strong legacy, inking his signature in basketball history as the best small forward in the history of the game.
There will never be another LeBron James, a point forward that can play and guard all five spots, an on-court coach that can do a little bit of everything and who could record a 27-7-7 game on a nightly basis and nobody would have even noticed.
PF: Carmelo Anthony
You may say whatever you want about Carmelo Anthony, but let’s be fair with him. Team USA always had the best version of Carmelo, he was consistent, knew his sweet spots, came huge in the clutch and even shared the wealth with his teammates.
Anthony became Team USA’s all-time leading scorer and never hesitated to embrace a lesser role for his nation’s sake. He was a major stud in the Olympics and he deserves a lot of praise for that.
C: Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard locked down the paint for The Redeem Team on a time where he was undisputable the best center in the world, and some people even argued that he was going to be as good as Shaq.
Needless to say, they were way off, but still, he was a major stud during the Olympics. He made the most of his strong body, his high hops and his athleticism to pretty much bully every opposing big man.
Bench: Jason Kidd, Deron Williams, Dwyane Wade, Tayshaun Prince, Chris Bosh, Michael Redd, Carlos Boozer
The Redeem Team featured two point guards in their second unit in Jason Kidd, arguably the best of his generation, and Deron Williams, a guy that was considered to be the best playmaker in the world at the time, crazy as it may seem.
Dwyane Wade was just in his prime as the best shooting guard (not named Kobe Bryant) in the world, a defensive stud that could run the court on the blink of an eye and score in bunches. Also, Tayshaun Prince was called up due to his defensive expertise, being one of the best wing stoppers in the world at the time.
Young hoops fans may be surprised of the fact that Carlos Boozer was a part of this team, but as a matter of fact, there was a time where Boozer was a walking double-double that could torch most defenders in the post.
To round things up, the Redeem Team featured Michael Redd, quite a consistent volume scorer that could light it up from all three levels, and Chris Bosh, one of the best two-way big man on earth that could also stretch the floor with his 3 point shooting skills.
The Redeem Team has a huge advantage when it comes to three-point shooting, featuring Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo, Williams, Bosh and Redd in the team, while the Dream Team didn’t thrive much off three-pointers.
When it comes to physicality and scoring down low, the Dream Team features a huge advantage, as there’s no way on earth Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard could ever guard Robinson and Malone in the post.
When it comes to playmaking, both teams feature quite strong ball handlers in Magic-Stockton and Kidd-Paul, but the Dream Team has the upper hand when it comes to defense, with Magic, Jordan, Bird, Robinson and Pippen, although the Redeem Team could rely on Kidd, Kobe, James, Wade, Paul and Prince.
As we all expected, the Redeem Team is keen to push up-tempo and feature a pace and space offense, pulling up from three-point land as soon as they have the chance to do it, with a red-hot Kobe Bryant that goes 5-5 on his first attempts, while Anthony helps him carry the load with 10 first quarter points.
LeBron and Dwight are finishing Kidd’s alley-oops as Robinson logs a couple of early fouls, and the Dream Team’s in trouble, so they need to go small and throw Chuck at the 5, while Pippen plays the 4 and Malone goes to the bench. We’re 55 Redeem - 40 Dream at halftime.
The second half is underway and His Royal Airness shows his teeth. It’s MJ time and nobody’s going to take the rock away from him. Blocking LeBron from behind, finding a wide-open Bird in the corner, getting the steal from Deron’s hands and then throwing it down emphatically, Jordan does it all for the Dream Team and we’re tied as we head to the 4th.
This one goes down the wire, nobody wants to lose and there’s a time out every time a team has a run. 4 minutes left, Robinson and Howard have fouled out, while Barkley was ejected for a couple of technicals and Wade is gassed out.
2 minutes left, Jordan gets the steal and then dunks from the charity stripe. Tongue out, he’s just having fun right now. 48 seconds left, LeBron bricks a wide-open three, the Dream Team is up by 6 and Magic goes to the stripe. Makes one, misses one, Malone gets the board, hits both freebies. It’s now or never for the Redeem team, Kidd inbounds, Carmelo gets in Kobe’s way to steal the pass and airballs a three-pointer. Ball-game, Dream Team wins 125-110.
Original Dream Team
Michael Jordan: 35 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, 3 blocks
Larry Bird: 17 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals
Magic Johnson: 12 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, 4 steals
David Robinson: 15 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 blocks
Charles Barkley: 21 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
Kobe Bryant: 29 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
LeBron James: 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Dwyane Wade: 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
Chris Paul: 9 points, 6 rebounds, 13 assists, 2 steals
Dwight Howard: 7 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks
Carmelo Anthony: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists