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The debate that will not die: LeBron says 2012 team could beat Dream Team

Jul 27, 2012, 7:13 PM EDT

LeBron James of the 2012 USA Basketball Getty Images

Which update and debate is more annoying right now: 2012 Team USA vs. the Dream Team; or the Dwight Howard saga? It’s close for me, because at some point our Dwightmare will end but the unanswerable, theoretical Dream Team debate could go on seemingly forever.

Case in point: At a pre-Olympic media session on Friday in London LeBron James was asked if he agreed with Kobe Bryant that the 2012 team could beat the original Dream Team (an idea Michael Jordan and Barack Obama scoffed at).

What did you expect LeBron to say? Here is his quote, via AP and ESPN.

“The ’92 Dream Team paved the way for all of us … We understand what they did for our game, but we also are big-time competitors as well, so if we got the opportunity to play them in a game we feel like we would win, too,” James said.

Here’s the thing — if LeBron (or Kobe) had said “there is no way we could have beat the Dream Team” half of you would have jumped all over them for being soft and not competitive enough. But they are both competitive. Very competitive. They are guys who have had success on the court in part because they believe they will always have success on the court. You don’t want another mindset from your players.

So, if you ask them if they think they can win, there is only one answer a true competitor can give.

I think Kobe hit the nail on the head when he followed up on this issue — in a one-game situation this 2012 team could win. In the same way a team like Spain could beat the USA in the gold medal game this year in 2012. Play a seven game series and the outcome is pretty obvious (USA over Spain, and Dream Team wins) but the opponents are good enough to steal a game or two. And so it is like the NCAA tournament — for one night, yes this USA team could win. Doesn’t make them the better team.

Can we all just move on to the games now?

  1. lucidsportsfan - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    The best athletes in the world today are just better than they were 20 years ago. Some numbers support the argument that this year’s team is better than the Dream Team:

    • lunasceiling - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:37 PM

      Better athletes, sure. Training techniques have improved over two decades. But basketball isn’t track and field…and athletic prowess isn’t the only thing that determines who wins. Besides, the 2012 team would still have some huge issues in the paint against the 1992 lineup.

  2. steelcity333 - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    I am officially more tired of this story than I am of Dwight Howard.

  3. paulhargis53 - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    This team is not winning the Gold medal.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 28, 2012 at 8:22 AM

      Hey Lakerluvr, can you believe this guy’s calling US douchebags?

  4. acdc363 - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Kobe said it like he meant it

  5. dalucks - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    If you want this story to die, stop writing stories that will bring it back to life.

  6. isujames - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Someone tell the stars of today to leave it alone, I doubt they would win one game against DT3 let alone the MONSTERS they had to go against on DT1.They would win PROBABLY win a game against DT2.Please stop saying they were better athletes, I have yet to see anyone as acrobatic/able to move in the Air like Jordan in any era of basketball period.That is athleticism.

    • passerby23 - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:28 PM

      I agree. I’m not convinced it’s a better brand of athlete either than the early 90s onward. People will point to Christian Laettner, Chris Mullin, John Stockton, and Larry Bird as being less athletic, but 3 of those guys are first ballot Hall of Famers.
      You think these guys today would muscle around Karl Malone and Michael Jordan?

      Second of all, I don’t think Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and James Harden are mind blowing athletes. Love, a guy maligned for his lack of athleticism coming into the league, is now consistently the first or second best rebounder in the league. It’s not because he’s athletic. Is Tim Duncan a better athlete than what they put out 20 years ago? The whole athleticism thing is silly.

      Oh, and yes, this team COULD win a game against the Dream Team. If they played a seven game series, I would take the Dream Team in five or six games.

  7. tomtravis76 - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    This is bringing animosity towards this very talented London squad, when everyone really just wants them to bring the gold back to the states.

    Over a seven game series The Dream Team would beat the London team. The basketball court is still the same size, the hoops are the same height. We keep hearing the argument that the London team, is more athletic, Jordan would be the most athletic to step on he court, its not like The Dream Team are a bunch of stiffs. The London Team wouldn’t beat the Atlanta Team, go look at that roster.

    • brianjoates - Jul 27, 2012 at 11:25 PM

      The London team would not beat The Dream Team, Atlanta ’96 nor China ’08.

      Hoping now that Anthony Davis inked his deal that Coach K will find him some minutes in the rotation. This team is living by the jumper and that might bite them eventually. I want the beefier K Love back, this version might have a nicer jumper, but he is afraid to get hit down low in this offseason.

  8. deiong - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    that argument just got a million times weaker coming from the biggest quiter who had to take the easy way out. wonder if someone can ever gain respect to the same level after thing that like.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:05 PM

      Is it respect when you’re named the league MVP, finals MVP, world champion, and universally considered the undisputed best player in the world?

      If you want to make fun of LeBron’s hairline, thats fine.

      But his accomplishments as a player this season cannot be questioned. He’s the King. Earned.

      • jimeejohnson - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:26 PM

        The ignorant haters will never accept that.

    • donrwells3 - Jul 28, 2012 at 5:32 AM

      Really though?

      The man destroyed Boston in the Eastern Finals, on the brink of elimination; at Boston, pretty much by himself.
      Bosh was hurt throughout the meat of the playoffs.

      Miami has never had a deep team since then but now they are deep and they are hungry.

      I am a Chicago fan and I don’t care much for Miami

      But give the man some respect, he has earned it.

  9. bigfatpaulie27 - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    And we get to go home to all of our personal problems, and he will continue living life the way he wants.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:27 PM

      Bet you are not smallie!

  10. lakerluver - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Kobe and LeBron are as good as anyone who has ever played. I know MJ lovers don’t agree but it is true.

    • scalfor3 - Jul 28, 2012 at 12:59 AM

      close but no cigar. jordan was on another level

      • brianjoates - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        Lebron plays a bit choppy , its not fluid, its real strong and angry. He is so talented though, and one of the best to ever play.

        The best way to describe Kobes game is that he is the worlds best MJ cover band.

        If DWade were taller his game most resembles the younger MJ, minus the fundamentally sound pure stroke jumper MJ had. You can tell Wade watched MJ all the time growing up in Chicago.

        Iam glad that I got to watch him play live and play his entire career. Jordan was the best ever.

  11. pistolpete0903 - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Different eras, different rules….would be comparing apples with oranges.
    Having said that, Dream team scores on fundamentals and smarts, while current crop wins out on athleticism.

  12. 3pointlegend - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    The original dream team would win because of the guys they had inside. Barkley, Ewing, Robinson, and Karl Malone would have chewed up and spit out Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, and Anthony Davis, seriously. Jordan was in his prime, Pippen was not even there yet, Drexler,Mullin,Stocktown were all in their prime. Bird and Magic were the ones over the hill but still smart enough to get it done. Team USA 2012 have athletes, but not complete ball players, every member of the original DT knew how to play, thanks in part to staying in school most if not all of their collegiate career.

    Lebron can say what he wants , he’s a champion now.

  13. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Can we all agree that every athlete thinks they’re going to win every game they play? It shouldn’t be news when they say so. And please, PBT, PFT, ESPN, and all the rest….stop posting columns that say player X predicts/guarantees a victory/championship. It’s understood.

    • guyaneserj - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:47 AM


  14. fanz928 - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    there is no easy way out In the NBA everyone works hard and superstars have star teammates I don’t see mavs going to finals without Terry Kidd and dirk
    I don’t see thunders in the finals without ww and harden and so on , it’s a team game you don’t win by yourself do show some respect hater

  15. liljere24 - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Maybe the media should stop asking the players questions about it, then maybe it will stop. Who knew the media could be at fault?

  16. davidcl77 - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Kobe is old and it shows. He should just play and keep his mouth shut.
    Pippen would contain Lebron. Nuff said.

    • oldmanbasketball - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      Pippen contain LeBron? Are you serious??? Thanks for the laugh.

  17. misterdreamer119 - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    Larry Legend already answered this. 2012 team wins. 92 team guys already retired. Add the teams to nba2k13 and shut it.

  18. jattsoorma - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    no he didnt, he said they would win TODAY because the dream team is in their 50’s. nice try at trying to spin it though.

  19. chicagofan - Jul 27, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    LeBronze and Kobe should focus on winning this year’s gold medal before engaging in pointless speculation about a fictional game with retired Jordan and Bird and Magic and Pippen and Ewing and Karl Malone and Barkley….that any true NBA fan knows they would lose, By the way, stats don’t lie–Lebron is a great athlete but his vertical rise is 44inches and Jordan’s was 48 and Pippen’s was 48 also. LeBron’s 40- 4.4 secs and Jordan’s was 4.3 and his will to win and Bball IQ was better too. The better athletes today argument is not supported by the facts. The defensive advantage of 1992’s team cannot be understated. Ewing or Robinson would guard the paint far better than Chandler or Love and would be able to play a one man zone in international play. Rebounding from the 4 from Barkley or Malone could not be matched by anyone on this yrs team. Add Magic’s utter domination of any one from the point guard position and the fact that the international 3point shot would be a like a free throw for an inspired Larry Bird –even with his back aching and this is a slaughter!!!

  20. lakerluver - Jul 27, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    @davidcl77, Kobe, even at this stage of his career, is still a top 5 player in the league. As for Pippen guarding LeBron? Dude, LeBron is the same height as Pippen (if not taller) and probably would outweigh him by 50 pounds. In other words, Pippen would get abused.

    • oldmanbasketball - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      Ya, absolutely right. No way Pippen could contain LeBron.

      • brianjoates - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:57 AM

        You must have never seen Pippen play. Pippen is so long. Its basketball not football, move your feet, beat the man to the spot. Pippen would do just fine vs Lebron, would Lebron get around 20 sure, because he is a great player, but Pippen would torch him for 20ish going the other way.

  21. dafc0n - Jul 27, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    While M.J. may not be as impressive a retiree as he was hoopster, and while he dissapoints me with his occasional foot in mouth gaffes, there is no current player even close to being as complete a player as he was! First of all, he won six titles, the last three, with somewhat aged and diminished skills by comparison to the first three. After the baseball hiatus, all the writers said he would be a bust. But the race does’nt always go to the swiftest. Jordan not only made everyone around him better, but he extracted every ounce of ability his teammates had on a regular basis. no one else has ever been able to do that. People rave about his athleticism, but he understood every nuance of the game, you can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t know how to win, it’s worthless. M.J. knew how to win on the court. And then there was his heart! This current crop of players, while talented, as individuals, are’nt even in his league, and if you beg to differ, meet me back here after Lebron gets five more rings!

  22. rushbacker - Jul 27, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    The debate that will not die? Try the “debate” that never had a bit of life to begin with. There IS no debate. LeBron and Kobe can say whatever they want, it’s not even a debatable subject.

  23. 1historian - Jul 27, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    This stupid story continues because the stupid writers keep bringing it up.

    Is there ANYONE out there who would actually expect a member of either team to say his team would lose?

    • guyaneserj - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      My point exactly! SMH

  24. isujames - Jul 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    @ Chicagofan, Thanx for the facts, educate these chumps/lames of today, they no nothing about anything especially athleticism and they no nothing about the 92 team.Respect the game and DT1.

  25. isujames - Jul 28, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    ^ it won’t die because these young kobe and lebron d:ck riders/fanatics know nothing about the 92 dream team and their Greats, its as if they don’t exisist to this generation.If they could play each other the games wouldn’t be close, and I am a huge fan of some of todays superstars, I am also intuned with reality.Lebron isn’t a good shooter, neither are more than half his squad, + their game in the block/ post would be nonexistent.

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