The Americans are back to throttling the world in basketball. We are administering above the rim international spankings the way Michael Phelps and his six-pack abs are conquering swimming pools.
It's an impressive sight actually. The team everyone thought was a brick-laying bunch of selfish punks whose idea of togetherness was what Nike product they would all simultaneously plug are playing with the kind of unanimity and unselfishness that would make Red Auerbach smile.
|Any team with the 1992 Michael Jordan on the roster holds the edge. (Getty Images)|
It's still early and many things can happen, but if the United States doesn't easily capture the gold it would be a remarkable upset.
So the question becomes this: How would the Redeem Team do vs. a group that is considered by many to be the greatest assembly of talent ever composed in perhaps the history of sports, the 1992 Dream Team?
The answer: very well. In fact, extremely well.
Friend and colleague Gregg Doyel and myself have IM'd about this deliciously fictional matchup. He thinks I've spent too much time on the Pineapple Express. His belief is probably like many of yours: The Dreamers would treat the Redeemers the way Michael Jordan once treated rims.
To completely argue against that point would be stoopid. Ten of the 12 Dreamers are among the NBA's top 50 players of all time. Any team with Jordan on it gets the edge. He is, after all, the best basketball player ever.
What I can argue is that such a mythical game would be extremely close, far closer than most people think, and my Redeemers would have a chance to win at the end. If you don't believe that then you know as little about basketball as my boy Doyel.
The game wouldn't be a bloodbath. It would go down to the final minutes. It would be anyone's contest.
The main reason why is good, old-fashioned, Grade A athleticism.
While the Dreamers would have the edge in overall talent and basketball skills, with the exception of Jordan, the Redeemers would have a decided edge in quickness and athletic ability. That athleticism advantage -- which is extremely significant -- would give the Dreamers fits.
When I speak about athleticism, I'm talking about hops, quickness and explosiveness. Ko-Me Bryant, Jordan and LeBron James are examples of this.
Charles Barkley was great but I don't think of Barkley as a great athlete; I think of him as a strong and smart player.
Dwyane Wade: great athlete. Karl Malone: not so much.
Who would win?
The 1992 Dream Team
The 2008 Redeem Team
Total Votes: 5,295
The Dreamers were a physical, tall and unified group of basketball Ph. D candidates. The Dreamers are The Commodores while the Redeemers are 50 Cent.
The Dreamers' knowledge of basketball and ability to play unselfishly would normally be enough to crush the Redeemers, except we're witnessing this fascinating phenomenon of the Redeemers playing solid team basketball themselves.
When analyzing this mythical matchup position by position you really start to see I'm not the flaming moron you're now screaming that I am. (Before you get your panties in a bunch crying about how I did the matchups they are only a best guess since some could go several different ways. Remember: Many of the players on the Dream Team were interchangeable.)
So, here we go.
Magic Johnson vs. Chris Paul or Jason Kidd. Edge: Johnson. Paul is proving to be one of the best ball-handling and defensive point guards the NBA has seen in some time but Johnson's size advantage would seriously hurt Paul or Kidd.
Jordan vs. Bryant or Wade. Edge: Jordan. Basically, whoever gets Jordan loses. But ... while Jordan would drop 25 on Bryant the Lakers guard could do the same to Jordan. Bryant will end up one of the top five players in history and would get his points. And have you noticed how unbelievable Wade is playing in these Olympic Games?
|An aging, aching Larry Legend vs. LeBron? No contest. (Getty Images)|
Barkley vs. Carmelo Anthony or Carlos Boozer. Edge: Barkley. Anthony has a size advantage but Barkley was a wicked scorer and rebounder. But again this battle is far closer than people think because when Anthony's mind is right he's a formidable player capable of scoring on Barkley.
Patrick Ewing vs. Dwight Howard. Edge: Ewing. His toughness and defensive abilities are among the best in big man history. Howard, however, is already among the more athletic centers the NBA has ever seen. This would be like other battles -- closer than people think.
The bench play is where my argument gets utterly destroyed.
The Dreamers were so deep they had names like David Robinson coming off the bench. Imagine that for a moment. David freaking Robinson as a reserve. That's a killer. So the Dreamers would wear my guys down.
Still, the athleticism of the Redeemers would keep the game close.
And here is where my argument gets a boost. The Redeemers are beating up on a world basketball community that has improved by a factor of 50 since 1992 and yet, so far at least, the Redeemers are prospering.
After the U.S. wins gold -- and they will -- the debate about which team is the Dreamers or the Redeemers will really increase.
I'll take my Redeemers, thank you, and feel pretty good about my chances.