I know how it sounds. I thought the same thing when my Grandfather used to tell me about the golden age of boxing. I never took him serious, until I actually watched the matches myself. Ali was the greatest ever, but George Foreman beat the snot out of him. There is no way around that fact. Frazier was an animal; a granite block of deadly rage. He DID beat Ali the first time they fought, and took the GOAT within an inch of his life the third time. Yet Foreman punished Frazier like Drago punished Creed. As a boxing fan, what a treat to experience such greatness in real time.
Just like, as a basketball fan, what a treat it was to experience the GREATEST TEAM EVER, in real time. You know why I'm writing this. This debate surfaces every four years and, just like always, there really is no debate. THE Dream Team was a collection of players that I HIGHLY doubt will ever be matched. We're talking ELEVEN Hall of Famers. The best players, on the best teams in the league. Guys 1 to 11 with basketball IQ's completely off the charts. Guys who knew how to win, every one of them in their own unique way.
Now, I know that some people buy into this notion that Kobe tried to push, saying that that '92 team was, basically, over the hill and not near as athletic as this one. Bullcrap. In fact, only two of those players were older than Kobe is now. And one of them, Magic, had just come off an MVP season. HIV stopped Magic from playing, not the competition. Ok, granted, Bird was LESS than a shell of himself. But so what. Pippen, Drexler, and Mullin were perfectly capable of holding down the three spot. What I also keep hearing is how the '92 team wouldn't be able to stop this teams point guards. Well, forgetting for a moment that Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Russell Westbrook would have no clue even HOW to defend Magic, I'm sure most people think its Stockton who would be completely overmatched. Please. These guys today are amazing, don't get me wrong. But the guys Stockton had to defend on a nightly basis were not much different, if at all. Chris Paul? Not much different than Tim Hardaway. Deron Williams? Give me Isaiah And I'll spot you ten. Westbrook? Explosive speed demon. As was Kevin Johnson.
Now, let's get to the crux of this debate. Could anyone on that '92 team match up with Lebron. Well, on the surface you have to say no. But between Pippen, Drexler, and even Barkley, you could slow him down. Remember, back then they played REAL defense. But, on the other hand, Kobe Bryant IN HIS PRIME couldn't handle Michael, let alone a Kobe 4 years older than MJ's 29.
Blake Griffin is an athletic freak. But he's not close to the level of Barkley Or Malone. Then, next up, I where this argument takes a cliff dive. David Robinson backing up Patrick Ewing. Holy crap. Against.....Tyson Chandler? Do I really need to go any further?
This team is great, don't get me wrong. They should have no trouble bringing back the gold. But some of these guys wouldn't have made the SELECT team back then.
Now, before I finish, I have one more question to pose. Which set of rules are they using? Oh, don't worry, I'm not saying that would matter as far as the win column goes. What I'm saying is, guys today couldn't handle the way defense was "played" back then. Conversely, can you imagine Jordan if they suddenly told him there was no more grabbing and holding? He'd probably average 45.
So there it is. The Great debate of Summer 2012. Have at it.