1:24 pm Aug. 13, 20121
Everyone from Kobe Bryant to President Obama weighed in on the question of which Dream Team was the best.
The vastly different contexts in which they played make the comparison somewhat silly, of course. The 2012 team's wins weren't as lopsided on average as the 1992 team's, for example, but the 2012 team won its gold against superior international competition.
But following the U.S.'s 107-100 victory over spain in Sunday's gold-medal game, we can at least compare the stats of the two teams.
In eight games, the 1992 team shot 56.5 percent, while the 2012 team shot 52.3 percent. But the 2012 was more accurate from three-point range, on a greater volume of long-range attempts.
Defensively, the 1992 team has a major edge over their 2012 counterparts. Both teams held opponents to roughly the same percentage from three-point range, with 1992 checking in at 30.5 percent, 2012 at 33.2 percent. But the 1992 team's opponents shot 39.3 percent on two-pointers; 2012's opponents shot a far better 51.8 percent from two-point range.
The difference in defensive prowess on twos can be largely explained by a pair of factors. One is that the 1992 team had two of the finest defensive centers ever in Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. The 2012 team had Tyson Chandler, who averaged just 11 minutes per game, Anthony Davis, who averaged less than eight minutes per game, and long stretches without an interior defensive presence at all.
The other factor, and one that simply cannot be ignored, is that the competition is far better in 2012 than it was in 1992. The Lithuania team the U.S. destroyed in the 1992 semifinals probably would have struggled against teams like France and Argentina, which didn't even medal in 2012. The Croatia team from the 1992 finals simply isn't in the same class as the Spain team that gave the U.S. a fight for the gold on Sunday.
The 2012 team defeated its opponents by an average of 32.1 points, which is a lot less impressive than the 1992 team's 43.8 point average.
But Kevin Durant's Charles Barkley-like performance, along with LeBron James' Olympic run, which easily outpaced Michael Jordan's, will also be part of the debate going forward.
At the very least, the 2012 team gave a good enough account of itself to be worthy of the argument.