What About the 1996 Dream Team?
Posted on August 7, 2012 by Textbook
Let’s make the debate even more complicated…
With the London Olympics well under way and the American basketball team as potent as ever, the debate over which United States men’s basketball team is the best recently emerged between the 1992 Dream Team and this year’s 2012 Dream Team.
This debate has already been discussed thoroughly by basketball experts, and despite LeBron James’ and Kobe Bryant’s claim that the 2012 team would beat the 1992 team (a claim Kobe later took back), it seemed unanimous that the original Dream Team had a better roster.
Thus, they would probably beat the new Dream Team. However, it does seem like the 1996 Dream Team, which consisted of five members of the 1992 team, was forgotten about and was left out of this debate.
A major reason why the 1996 Dream Team, or Dream Team III as they were often referred to, was left out of the debate is most likely because of the recent documentary, The Dream Team, which is all about the 1992 United States basketball team and their Olympic campaign in Barcelona. It seems that the documentary really sparked the debate and made the original Dream Team a favourable subject for conversation and comparison. (By the way, The Dream Team is an awesome documentary. You really should check it out if you get the chance).
Nonetheless, the 1996 team was special. The roster included Charles Barkley, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, Scottie Pippen, Mitch Richmond, David Robinson and John Stockton. Clearly, they were an extremely talented American team that also had experience with five members (Barkley, Malone, Pippin, Robinson and Stockton) already winning gold in 1992. They might have not been the original “Dream Team” and were missing the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, but one might believe that they should at least be in the discussion when the best Olympic Dream Team is debated. That’s not to say they are the best American team ever, but don’t they at least deserve a mention? They did pretty darn well at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics going undefeated, winning gold and basically being an untouchable unit – much the same as the 1992 team.
This certainly complicates the debate even further, but honestly, the debate was not an easy one to begin with. Times have changed and so has the style of basketball. Comparing any basketball team from the ’90s to a current team is almost impossible. The simple point that should be made, however, is that the 1996 United States Dream Team should be in the discussion when trying to identify the better or best United States Olympic basketball team.
The verdict: Each Dream Team was, and is, amazing, but comparing such talent is hard and basically impossible. That said, it’s fair to say that the 1996 Dream Team should get more of a mention when this discussion comes up. Then again, the 2000 Dream Team might even deserve some limelight… On second thoughts, let’s not go there, they weren’t even refereed to as a “Dream Team”. Other than Vince Carter’s famous Olympic dunk against France, they weren’t all that special. They didn’t blow out their opposition game after game like the 1992 and 1996 team. And don’t even get me started on the 2004 United States basketball team. They didn’t even win gold. The only other team that could possible join this debate is the 2008 Redeem Team, but their roster doesn’t compare. I mean, Carlos Boozer? Tyshaun Prince? Decent players, yes. But they aren’t superstars.
To conclude, let’s just stick to bringing the 1996 team into the discussion for now. Their inclusion should give the debate much more life.
By the way, for those who haven’t noticed, Primo! Magazine now has a Sports! category for all your sporting interests.