Prior to the start of the Olympics, USA guard Kobe Bryant made some bold statements by saying that this year’s United States squad would be able to defeat the historic 1992 Dream Team, which was led by legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird.
On Thursday night in London, the 2012 version of the Dream Team showed that Kobe’s claims were legitimate when they turned in quite possibly the greatest shooting performance in basketball history with their 156-73 stomping over Nigeria.
The 156 points the United States put up was an Olympic record for most points in an Olympic game, surpassing the 138 points Brazil scored in the 1988 Games. Now, this year’s version of the Dream Team holds the record. What’s interesting is that the Dream Team of 1992 didn’t even hold that record, Brazil did.
The modern Dream Team also set records for margin of victory, three-pointers with 29, and field goal percentage by making 71.1 percent of their shots. In fact, Team USA made over 80 percent of their two pointers. There were 49 points at the end of the first quarter alone and let’s not forget that there are 40 minutes of play in international basketball, unlike the NBA which has 48 minutes of regulation.
The numbers were just unbelievably staggering. From the first minute to the last, Team USA was imposing their will on Nigeria and they weren’t doing it with high-flying dunks. They were taking deep shots and making them. 87 of their 156 points came from three-pointers. That’s astonishing.
One may argue that the United States played a weak opponent in Nigeria and that’s why they were able to dominate them so aggressively.
However, the 1992 team had no competition throughout the entire tournament and they were never able to put up a performance like the 2012 team did on Thursday.
The teams the ’92 Dream Team played were absolutely pathetic when it came to talent. Spain didn’t even have a legitimate NBA guy in 1992.
Times have changed. Spain is favored to give this year’s team a run for the Gold Medal because they have skilled NBA players with plenty of talent and experience. Other countries like Argentina, France, Brazil, Russia, and China have NBA talent, too.
The rest of the world has improved considerably in the last two decades.
And it’s not just in basketball. In every sport, whether its track, swimming, or basketball, training techniques have improved and records are being broken constantly. Athletes are bigger and stronger nowadays.
Twenty years from now, athletes will be more fit than they were today and today’s records will be shattered. It’s just how it works. The athletes of the future are just better than the athletes of the past.
One could even argue that the 2008 team was better than the 1992 Dream Team.
They faced tougher competition and didn’t lose a single game. Their accomplishments were more noteworthy. The 2008 actually sweated in their games. The 2012 team will eventually sweat when they play Spain. This years’ team has actually dominated a team with plenty of NBA guys, already, when they destroyed the French by 27 points.
The 1992 team, meanwhile, played a bunch of no-namers. Croatia was perhaps their toughest competition back then with the late Drazen Petrovic leading the way and the Dream Team still win by over 30 points.
The Dream Team had eight games against teams that pretty much had the same talent level of Nigeria does today and they weren’t able to set any records like the United States did on Thursday night.
Those records are now held by Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and the rest of the Americans.
Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird shouldn’t be laughing anymore. This year’s team is beating better teams by wider margins. There’s no doubt that Kobe knew what he was talking about when he made those bold statements.