25 years later, no guarantee Dream Team would take down today’s NBA stars

Who's ready for a dose of nationalistic and hoops-related blasphemy? Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of the Dream Team winning the basketball gold medal for the U.S. at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona — a first-of-its-kind conglomerate of the NBA's biggest names, led by Michael Jordan and the faded superstar duo of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. A quarter of a century later, I honestly believe you could put together a current 12-man squad that would have beaten that legendary team, which also featured centers David Robinson and Patrick Ewing, forwards Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and Chris Mullin, guards John Stockton and Clyde Drexler, and one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others college star Christian Laettner. It was an awesome spectacle, to be sure, with the Dream Team winning its games by an average score of 43.8 points per game after the traditional U.S. team comprised of amateur/collegiate players disappointingly came home with the bronze in 1988. But let's face it, the international competition then wasn't nearly what it has evolved into over the past two decades — albeit largely influenced by that group's world-wide popularity and impact. And some of the '92 Americans clearly were at the end of their basketball ropes that summer, particularly Magic, who had just revealed the previous year that he was HIV-positive, and Bird, who retired from the sport that year due to chronic back woes. Now, this is a departure for me since I readily admit that I'm often a member of the "get off my lawn" crowd in these instances. After all, the first rule of sports comparisons usually calls for those in the older generation to dismiss any attempt to suggest a current player is better than what we remember when we were younger and more impressionable. Of course, this also is this kind of flawed and silly logic that dismisses the wondrous Mike Trout as having no chance to ever be considered as Continue Reading

Olympic Channel hits TVs Saturday, will air 1992 Dream Team games in late August

NEW YORK — The Olympic Channel debuted online this past August, one day after the Closing Ceremony of the Rio Games, as a digital-only platform aimed at providing year-round coverage of Olympic sports while digging into the International Olympic Committee’s deep archive of past events.On Saturday, the channel will make its television debut. The network, also known as The Olympic Channel, will appear in 35 million homes nationwide with plans of passing 40 million households by the end of the year. As part of NBC’s overall coverage, the channel will team with the existing NBC Sports Network to provide round-the-clock exposure to both Olympic sports and the athletes involved, explained NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel.“This Saturday is one of the most monumental evolutions that we’ll have,” said Olympics Channel general manager Mark Parkman. “In today’s age of cord-cutting and linear channels going away, I think this speaks very highly to NBC’s commitment.”As with its digital partner, the channel will partner original content — including coverage of live events and original programming — and the vast Olympic archive, “with a specific focus of engaging a younger audience outside the Olympic Games,” Zenkel said.“The priority is live sports,” added Jim Bell, the president of NBC Olympics Production and Programming.The launch marks the next phase of the long-term partnership between NBC, the IOC and the United States Olympic Committee, which re-signed a deal in 2014 that will run through 2032.“We’ve always had the championship season for Team USA with the Games,” said USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird. “We’ve never had the regular season. To me, the linear channel is the last piece we’ve been building to really show Americans what it takes to be an Olympic athlete.”Part of that “common vision,” as Zenkel said, is to Continue Reading

2012 USA basketball team heading to London Olympics is better than the 1992 Dream Team

You probably know the rules of sports comparisons by now. Athletes of your childhood are always the best ever, because you’re impressionable and lack perspective, and because we’re all a little egocentric.Joe DiMaggio is the greatest, and your father is gaga over Mickey Mantle, and you’re convinced there’s no comparison to the 1998 Yankees.P.J. Carlesimo, an assistant coach on the 1992 Dream Team, and his answer was, ultimately, “time will tell.”Magic Johnson had been diagnosed with HIV one year before the Olympics and only played in 32 games after. Larry Bird’s back was shot and he never played another NBA game. The 2012 team has not yet been named.Derrick Rose (league MVP at age 22); Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant (on the downside of his career, but only player ever compared favorably to M.J.); Charles Barkley vs. LeBron James (guess who called King James the best player in the NBA? Sir Charles); Karl Malone vs. Kevin Durant (amazing he’s still only 23, already a scoring champ); Patrick Ewing vs. Dwight Howard (Ewing is Howard’s mentor, but could only dream of possessing his talents).Dwyane Wade (more titles than Bird when he retires? Why not?); John Stockton vs. Chris Paul (Stockton always had Malone, Paul just now is getting to show what he can do with an All-Star teammate); Chris Mullin vs. Carmelo Anthony (has already been further in the playoffs than Mullin, and has better stats); Clyde Drexler vs. Deron Williams (not a fair comparison, but 2012 team could be heavy with point guards); Scottie Pippen vs. Kevin Love (24 years old and averaging 25.8 points and 14.2 rebounds this season); David Robinson vs. Blake Griffin (Kendrick Perkins and Timofey Mozgov could tell you about Griffin’s capabilities); Christian Laettner vs. Chris Bosh (Isiah Thomas, snubbed for Laettner, went on to ruin one of the league’s marquee franchises like it was retribution). THE SCORE HEARS ... BY PAT LEONARD   Continue Reading

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: NBA2K13 video game can match up 1992 Dream Team against this year’s Olympic gold medal-winning squad

CHICAGO — Michael and Magic versus Kobe and LeBron? Sounds like a dream matchup, and it could be coming to a video game console near you. With USA Basketball and 2K Sports forming a partnership, fans can see what happens when the amazing 1992 Dream Team goes up against this year’s Olympic gold medal winner once NBA 2K13 hits the shelves this fall. Never mind that it’s not quite the real thing, more fuel is about to be added to the debate. Not that there really is a debate in Michael Jordan’s mind. “We’ll never know, but let’s talk about it,” Jordan said on a conference call. “I know Kobe (Bryant) said some things early on and I responded to those. The ’92 Dream Team, I felt, was a more well-rounded basketball team.” It’s hard to argue, considering the 1992 Dream Team had Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird leading a group that is widely considered the greatest collection of talent ever assembled. That team included 11 future Hall of Famers, won its six Olympic games by an average of more than 43 points en route to the gold medal and never was challenged the way this year’s team was by Spain in the gold medal game, with the Americans squeezing out a 107-100 victory. Then again, that’s a testament to the global growth of the sport that the 1992 team spurred, leading to an influx of foreign talent in the NBA. The ‘92 team boasted arguably the greatest player of all time in Jordan and greatest point guard in Magic Johnson, not to mention Larry Bird and dominant centers in Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. If the most recent group had a weakness, it was in the middle, with Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin sitting out with injuries. Throw in the fact that Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose missed the games, too, and the Americans weren’t quite fully loaded. Still, they brought plenty of ammunition to London, with LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Continue Reading

Michael Jordan: ‘I absolutely laughed’ at Kobe Bryant’s claim that 2012 U.S. Olympic squad could beat Dream Team

  CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Michael Jordan said there’s no way Kobe Bryant and this year’s USA Olympic basketball team could’ve beaten the 1992 Dream Team.   Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images Kobe Bryant (r.) Jordan’s response came after Bryant said this week that this year’s team could pull out a win against the Dream Team if they faced each other in their primes. Bryant said this year’s team has a bunch of racehorses, players who are incredibly athletic while the Dream Team consisted mainly of players at the tail end of their careers.” Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Philadelphia Eagles are no Dream Team II, as big free-agent dollars can’t buy a Super Bowl title

There has only been one true Dream Team in sports and that was the 1992 Olympic basketball team, the first time NBA players were allowed to compete.Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkely led the USA to an 8-0 record in the Barcelona Olympics with the closest call coming in the gold medal game when they beat Croatia by 32 points. The average margin of victory was 44 points.Even if the Eagles win the Super Bowl this season, and they might, calling them a Dream Team will still be a little far-fetched. It started when Vince Young, the new backup quarterback trying to get his career straightened out, was asked about the Eagles' acquisitions in free agency and trades."Dream Team," he said. And that's now following the Eagles around. It has not only raised expectations and created negative feeback around the league. That has put Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie in damage control mode."We're about as far from a Dream Team as you can be, we're playing catch up," Lurie said. "The only Dream Team I know is the Green Bay Packers. We dream to become as good as the Green Bay Packers and hold that trophy. And going into last year, I would say the New Orleans Saints because those are the dream teams, they're the ones holding the Lombardi Trophy. We're consciously trying to play catch up in an aggressive way."Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan apparently is not big on the Dream Team stuff. "I don't know if we win the all-hype team," Ryan said. "I think that might have gone to somebody else, but we're going to beat their ass when we play them."When Ryan's father Buddy coached the Eagles, he despised the Cowboys. Now Rob has no use for the Eagles, although he never mentioned them by name. Being a bit brash and outspoken apparently runs in the Ryan family.One thing is clear: The Vince Lombardi Trophy has never been for sale. Philly has had the most aggressive and impressive run since the lockout ended: They've added five former first-round draft Continue Reading

Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone and Dream Team inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Scottie Pippen thanked the player who meant so much to him on the court.Karl Malone remembered the person who meant the most to him in life.Pippen and Malone were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, recognized as individuals and as part of the Dream Team.Pippen opened his acceptance speech by praising Michael Jordan, his fellow six-time NBA champion from the Chicago Bulls for being "the best teammate.""MJ, you have touched so many people's lives, but none quite like mine," Pippen said.A little-known player from Central Arkansas when the Bulls got him in 1987, Pippen was the first player inducted during the enshrinement ceremony at Symphony Hall. With Jordan standing nearby on stage as his presenter, Pippen said he would "cherish their relationship forever.""Who knew that No. 23 would be here 23 years later presenting me to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame?" Pippen said.The presenter does not speak.Malone struggled with his emotions throughout his speech, especially at the end when he recalled his mother, saying she had died seven years ago Friday."I'm here because of her," he said.Malone also thanked late Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller for believing in him. Malone is a two-time MVP and second on the league's career scoring list, and said his success came from staying true to his Louisiana roots."I hope I did it the way my peers did it before me," Malone said. "I didn't do anything but try to play hard."The 2010 class also includes the Dream Team that won the 1992 Olympics, and the 1960 U.S. gold medalists. Pippen and Malone played with Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on the 1992 team, and Bird was nearing retirement because of a bad back and had to be persuaded by Johnson to play."Pretty good way to go out, winning the gold medal," Bird said.He was joined on the stage by the entire Dream Team. All the living members of the 1960 team also attended the festivities.Earlier Friday, Jerry West said he believe Continue Reading

Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and the 1992 Dream Team are finalists for the Naismith Hall of Fame

DALLAS - Two-time NBA MVP Karl Malone, six-time champion Scottie Pippen, and two of the great U.S. Olympic champions are finalists for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.The 1992 Dream Team, which Malone and Pippen played on along with superstars such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, is a finalist in the team category. Also up for induction is the 1960 gold medalists, a team led by Hall of Famers Jerry West and Oscar Robertson that won its games in Rome by 42.4 points per game."It was great to play with Larry, Michael and all the guys after all those years," Johnson said at the press conference. "They said there's no way we could play together. They underestimated us from the beginning. We didn't care who scored the points or got their name in the paper. All we cared about was bringing the gold back to the U.S."The 19 finalists were announced Friday at the start of the NBA's All-Star weekend. The class of 2010 will be announced on April 5 in Indianapolis before the NCAA championship game.The Dream Team is perhaps the best and most famous basketball squad ever. The first that included NBA players in the Olympics, the Americans rolled through Barcelona to enormous fanfare with an average victory margin of 43.8.Eight members are already in the Hall of Fame and figure to be joined by at least two more in August. Malone was the NBA's MVP in 1997 and '99 and finished his career as the league's No. 2 scorer with 36,928 points.He never won a title, because Pippen's teams were in the way both times his Utah Jazz reached the finals. The versatile forward paired with Jordan to win six titles in the 1990s and was a seven-time All-Star.Malone and Pippen also won gold in the 1996 Olympics, and both are expected to join former teammates in the Hall this year. Jordan and John Stockton, Malone's longtime Jazz teammate, were part of last season's class.Returning finalists include Chris Mullin, another Dream Teamer, Dennis Johnson, coach Don Nelson and four-time WNBA Continue Reading

Legendary basketball coach Chuck Daly dies at 78; coached first Olympic Dream Team to gold medal

The NBA lost one of its coaching giants early Saturday with the death of Chuck Daly, the first coach to win an NBA title and lead the U.S. to a gold medal in the Olympics.Daly, who was 78, died at his Jupiter, Fla., home surrounded by his family. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Feb. 9. Always impeccably dressed, with a decorative handkerchief adorning his silk suits, and with every hair in its proper place, Daly led the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. Two years later, he took the greatest assemblage of talent ever seen on a basketball court, the Dream Team, and won the Olympic gold medal in Barcelona. While going 8-0 with Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and several other future Hall of Famers, the U.S. steamrolled the competition by an average of 44 points, with its closest game a 32-point rout of Croatia for the gold medal. "Chuck was a great coach, a players' coach," said Dream Team member and Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. "The fact that he won two championships with Detroit, he knew what it took to win. On the Dream Team, he had all that great talent. But he also knew how to work us, and he pushed the right buttons when they needed to be pushed. He was a joy to play for." Said NBA commissioner David Stern: "Chuck Daly was known best for the outstanding work he did on the sidelines - from guiding the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back NBA championships to leading the Dream Team to the gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. "But Chuck did much more than coach basketball games. He positively impacted everyone he met, both personally and professionally, and his love of people and the game of basketball helped develop the next generation of coaches. The void left by his death will never be filled." During a Hall of Fame career that ended in 1999, Daly also made coaching stops in Cleveland, New Jersey and Orlando, winning 60% of his games over 14 NBA seasons. He had only one losing season, his first, when he lasted Continue Reading

John Stockton says Dream Team teammate Chris Mullin will make ‘great’ coach at St. John’s

John Stockton has never seen Chris Mullin coach basketball because Mullin had never been a coach, on any level, until he took the head job at St. John’s earlier this week. But Stockton knows enough about his former Dream Team teammate as a player, and as a basketball mind, to think that Mullin is the right choice to be the coach of the Red Storm. “I think he’ll be great,” Stockton said of Mullin Friday, when Stockton was in the city as an assistant coach with the Gonzaga Prep girls basketball team. “He’s a competitor; he knows what he’s talking about. He’s the face of St. John’s anyway, so I think it’s a great spot and I’m hoping for the best.” Stockton, whose daughter Laura is a senior guard on Gonzaga Prep, which lost to Miami Country Day, 60-59, in the semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals at Christ the King HS in Middle Village, Queens, was a longtime opponent of Mullin’s when both played in the NBA’s Western Conference. Stockton played for the Jazz from 1984 to 2003, and Mullin — after taking St. John’s to a Final Four in 1985 — played for the Golden State Warriors from 1985 to 1997 before playing three seasons for the Indiana Pacers and returning to Golden State to finish out his career in 2001. Both are Naismith Hall of Famers. They were also teammates on the 1992 Dream Team that won an Olympic gold medal at Barcelona. Mullin averaged 14.3 points in six Olympic games, leading the team with a total of 15 3-pointers. Stockton averaged five points and six assists but played in only two games. The Dream Team’s practices were famously intense and highly competitive. Those workouts, in addition to their time going head to head in NBA games, is when Stockton learned a lot about Mullin. “He was so clever, a phenomenal shooter, underrated passer and just a clever player, so Continue Reading