Greatest Team Ever Assembled?

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A call came into the HT hotline this afternoon on what should be the hottest topic of the weekend — the 2010 Hall of Fame induction ceremonies going on in Springfield, Mass.

“The original Dream Team is the best basketball team ever assembled, right?’ the caller said. “Surely, you don’t think any other incarnation could handle them do you?”

The easy answer should have been “of course.”

Any team with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, John Stockton, David Robinson and Patrick Ewing as its headliners would have to get the nod, right?

As the caller would clarify moments later, not exactly.

She wasn’t interested in the names so much as she was the games, as in what state was each of those legends’ game in during the time they played together and could they outdistance any other group — Olympic or otherwise — for the title of greatest team ever assembled?

That little wrinkle caused me to think it over a little more before posing the question to all of you.

Do you think the 1992 U.S. Olympic team was the greatest compilation of basketball talent to grace the floor or could some other group, say one of its subsequent reincarnations or even a team before it, lay claim to the title?

I’m having a really hard time finding another squad that can give them a run (the caller, showing her age, suggested that the 2008 U.S. Olympic (Redeem) team — the Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, Deron Williams-led bunch would have given the OG’s fits).

Uh, I’d pay for a ticket to that game. But I don’t know if I see the 2008 group besting the true Dream Team.

What about the 1996 crew? Barkley, Pippen, Malone, Stockton and Robinson stuck around and were joined by Gary Payton, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Reggie Miller, Hakeem Olajuwon and a monstrous, young Shaquille O’Neal (who should have been on the original team as a collegian over Christian Laettner).

And there was also that 2000 team to consider. GP was joined by a brand new cast that included Steve Smith, Vince Carter, Tim Hardaway, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Kidd, Antonio McDyess, Alonzo Mourning, Vin Baker, Allan Houston and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Let’s leave the 2004 team off the list since they had to scrap to get a bronze medal in Athens.

What say you?

(And feel free to include any team ever assembled. But just so you know, we’re going with the greatest player ever, the bald cat below, on the greatest team ever assembled.)

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42 Comments

  1. Hisouka says:

    Who will be guarding MJ? Kobe? i dont think he can handle MJ.. And best of all how can they guard Magic Johnson as a PG?

  2. KevinNYC says:

    Bird and Magic were not elite players in 1992? You’re out of your mind.

    What you mean is Bird and Magic in 1992, were not as great as they were in the mid-80’s when they were the handful of best of all time players. Bird and Magic were still elite in 1992. Of the two Bird was more criticized because of his back and foot problems were slowing him down. Michael Jordan himself laughed off this criticism in 1992. He definitely wanted Bird on the team, for his outside shot, passing ability and court knowledge. I believe he said, he wouldn’t be on the team if Bird wasn’t. Bird ability to open up the floor causes more havoc on the defense than another low post scorer.

    Also Laettner made the team because they had one slot for a college player and he was player of the year.

  3. [...] It was a busy evening for Coach K, who also shared in the Dream Team’s induction.  Shortly after leading Duke to a second consecutive national title, the Duke head coach joined the Dream Team staff in 1992 and helped guide arguably the greatest hoops team ever assembled. [...]

  4. Tom says:

    I’ll repeat what someone else said: Bird and Magic in 92 were not elite basketball players.

    Also, some of you have to understand that only about 8 guys matter on a team in any given game. Who cares what Christian Laettner could do? That’s like including Adam Morrison in a Lakers breakdown.

    The 2008 team had a pretty mediocre frontcourt, relative to other Dream Teams, and as great as their perimeter was, they were not a great three point shooting team. I think the 96 team especially would have given them fits. In fact, I’d say the real debate is whether the 96 squad wasn’t actually the best overall team – all those guys were in their primes, and nobody was scoring in the paint against those guys.

    • what!?!?! says:

      Even if Bird and Magic were past their primes, all you need is Stockton and MJ in the backcourt, Pippen and Malone in the frontcourt and Robinson at Center and you have better defense and offense than the 2008 team. Any contributions that Magic and Bird give just puts the two teams further apart. The difference is that in 92 all the players could shoot, you don’t have to shuffle lineups to make up for weak shooting of Howard or Jason Kidd. Even LeBron needed some more work on his shot in 2008. I don’t know why I’m even typing this is not even close…….

  5. williamu137 says:

    Excuse the typos but i typed fast out of frustration. Also, name one player on the Redeem Team who could jump and dunk from the free throw line. Jordan and Drexler did it. The Dream Team is Just as athletic, way more skilled and talented. They are a much better passing team and even more superior in shooting. They are also alot bigger and stronger team. This series would be an easy sweep and the Redeem Team would be lucky to have one game in single digits. They would have to play perfect. Imagine the Dream Team playing playoff style basketball. They win by 20 easily per game.

  6. williamu137 says:

    Anyone who thinks the Redeem Team would have any chance of beating the Dream Team are ignorant or are just under the actual drinking age. I don’t mean any disrespect but the Dream Team would destroy them. Even Laettner would give them problems because he is 6’11 and could spread out any big man because he could hit a 3. He was 18-20 at the stripe in the olympics and could fill in nicely at C or PF because the lack of size the 08 team had. they could put Bird and Mullin on each side and they would make over 70% from the arc. Stockton is not only the assist leader but the all time steals leader himself. He is a super tougher version of Nash and his pick n roll with the Mail Man would destroy the 08 team. Pippen was the greatest perimeter defensive player ever with the greatest player ever next to him in Jordan. Ewing would knock down jump shots over any big man the 08 team has the same way he would knock them down on us. Quickness- No Center in NBA history could run up and down the floor like Robinson. The outside shooting of Barkley and Malone is one thing but they would take your manhood if you got in their way.Also, Magic is the greatest floor general ever and he could post up and hit a baby sky hook on any Foward let alone a Guard. The passing of Magic, Stockton,Bird and Mullin would have Lebron’s headband turned all the way around. I don’t want to be too harsh on the Redeem team because i do think they are better then the 96 team and 2nd best ever and showed what USA Basketball should be represented but the bottomline the Dream Team is not only on another planet they are the greatest sports team ever period.

  7. stib says:

    well.. in my point of view,, the ’92 team is really the best of their time.. because……. the other countries are just in the way up… is there a Manu that era? Nowitski? Parker? the silver medalist team Spain?? and many more.. the’re’ is no competition at that time.. unlike today.. where the other countries grow much stronger.. best example.. team spain where almost all them play at the NBA, so the best team and the most explosive team would be US Team ’08..

    ***but of course we cant really compare them because they played on a different era.. they we’re the US team in their own respective years, because they are the best players in their own respective era..

    peace.. hehe

  8. Wayne says:

    Redeem Team vs. Dream Team is pretty close. The individual match-ups are very intriguing too (Jordan v Kobe, Pippen v Lebron, Barkley vs Melo, Magic vs. Kidd, Stockton/Malone vs. Williams/Boozer, battle of the lefties Robinson vs. Bosh and Mullin vs. Redd).

    Stockton vs. Williams (Williams – styles are so different, but slight edge to Williams because of his size)
    Magic vs. Kidd (wash – both past their primes, but still amazing floor generals)
    Drexler vs. Wade (Wade – Drexler smoother, Wade more explosive and better defender)
    Jordan vs. Kobe (Jordan – Jordan was at his peak even though Kobe had just won an MVP)
    Mullin vs. Redd (wash – Mullin a better pure shooter, but Redd had more versatility)
    Pippen vs. Lebron (Lebron – but only a slight edge, Lebron learned the chase down block from Pip)
    Barkley vs. Melo (Wash – respective scoring leaders, Barkley unstoppable in the post, but Melo can hurt you in so many different ways)
    Bird vs. Paul (not really a match-up, but the two odd men out, so I won’t make a call on this match-up. Can you imagine if they had left Mullin and brought Thomas instead? Thomas vs. Paul would have been ridiculous!)
    Malone vs. Boozer (Malone – not even close)
    Laettner vs. Prince (do we even care about this match-up?)
    Ewing vs. Howard (Howard – similarly limited offensive games but Howard is so dominant defensively)
    Robinson vs. Bosh (Robinson – advantage for being a better defender)

    Overall, Dream Team was a little bigger than the Redeem Team (see Bird vs. Paul, Magic vs. Kidd), but Redeem Team had the edge on quickness. This would have been a battle royale. By my count, Redeem Team has a slight edge on the individual match-ups. I give the edge to the Redeem Team just because of the age of Bird and Magic. The wild cards would be Malone (Boozer would get lit-up) and Paul (no one would be able to stay in front of him).

  9. card says:

    I don’t think the people leaving comments read the article. The 92 team had few players well beyond their prime at that time. Bird was 36 yrs old and retired from basketball a week after the Olympics due to back problems. Magic was in his mid 30’s had already been retired from the league for a year due to HIV. Those guys had great careers, but they were not great players in 1992. I think the 2008 team would have run those old guys out of the gym. In an up tempo game, any size advantage the dream team had would have been negligible.

  10. [...] me the1992 Dream Team is the greatest Olympic team ever assembled. Marv and I were working for NBC at the time and had the incredible opportunity to cover the Dream [...]

  11. retirecards51 says:

    1992 hands down. Best PG ever (Magic, w/ stocken as backup), Best Player ever (Jordan. with clyde the glide as backup) at SG, and arguably one of the best SF (Bird, with Pippen as a backup?!?), Best PF combo with barkley and malone, and 2 Great Centers in Ewing and Robinson.

  12. Gabriel C. says:

    This is Crazy Talk. The 2008 would WHOOP the 1996 squad but None of those team were better than the DREAM TEAM. The REDEEM TEAM would be a good game but nah they couldnt beat the 1992 squad.

  13. Joe Smith says:

    The 92′ team was the best ever hands-down. It had leadership in Magic, MJ, and Bird, it had the best ever in MJ, the best combo of centers in Ewing and the Admiral, the best PFs ever up to that time in Barkley and Malone, and the best, most versatile, 2nd option in Scottie Pippen.

  14. R4 says:

    I love to write hate mail but I myself say it the best team to ever exist on this planet. You can comparet it too any Brazil World Cup team, Canadian Hockey team and even The Jamaican Track team. No team on this planet had that much talent on it. The Dream Team is real and should be placed in the History books as a gift sent from God himself… Thanks you

  15. Cedric says:

    I was born in ’80 so I remember the ’92 Dream Team very well. These guys didnt practice for months and months to gel, they just kinda went out and did their own thing and still dominated the competittion. To me, that makes them the best.

  16. steve says:

    1992 dream team by FAR the best. 2008 , good team but not even close

  17. Miguel Bordalo says:

    It has Jordan? I’m going with it.

  18. think says:

    1992 is still the best team ever assembled… but i also have to give my respect to the Redeem Team… this is the only group that has to face contenders who truly believe they can beat a USA team.

    During the 1992 games, you could see the European players being mesmerized seeing how team USA go, and they just wait for the buzzer to sound so they can have pictures with them. Lithuania may have been a close call in 2000, but still its more of a celebration that at least they are able to challenge USA. During 2004, when Argetina beat USA (first team to beat the US), its mostly a surprise to everyone, including Argentina that a USA team can be beaten. That have boosted the confidence of the other teams that they have caught up with USA. True, team 2004 may have been the weakest line-up, but still, the rest of the world is also getting better. A good wake-up call for USA.

    Recently, even if the Redeem Team flags Kobe, Lebron, Wade and company, you could still feel the swagger from Spain, Argentina, Greece etc. that they can beat this team. It also happens that some of the NBA’s best players have come form these teams (Pau, Dirk). The level of the competition is much much higher because these teams are confident that team USA is beatable. Spain-USA finals was the best game yet because of the competition until the buzzer sounds.

    1992 may have the best talents ever, but team 2008 has faced the greatest challenge… yet.

    • Balance says:

      I guess we should try to weight the opponents of the Dream Team those years so that we can judge the strength of the US team. If we just recall who where the dominant country in basketball @ Olympic and how solid the other country was and how the Dream Team handle the challenge. In this way you will see if which Dream Team is the best.

  19. nomer says:

    1992 dream team the best team EVER no debate on that…but any team that will beat team USA mat be included in this discussion.

  20. lpasuncion says:

    Original Dream Team is by far the best compilation of players! I don’t know if others agree but 1992 DT shows heart and fun while playing the game. Not because they are popular or something.

  21. TC. says:

    Good question.

    96, ’08 (even ’00?) were good teams, alright. But The Greatest Team Ever Assembled: ’92. The talent, the strength, the mesmerizing effect they had on opponents (lol). Too great of a team.
    Barkley, Jordan, Bird, Johnson… you can’t beat that!

  22. Christoph says:

    Well,
    when it is about a competition of teams I think the 92 squad has the best chance – as mentioned 10 of 12 are Hall of Famers, doesn’t need more expression. Though, I think the Redeem Team was a very descent team too, and I sxpect several of those in the Hall in a dozen of years. Similar for the 96 team with 5 players same to 92…(well compared Bunbury). I think both would have made the same impact in 92 as all other teams weren’t that good at that time. But thinking in terms of Greatness I think Steve Ashburner made a good point regarding the 1960 team – inducted along the Dream Team, BTW. Surely, todays standard of athletics and strength is I think a different level, and I am too young to have seen them, but reading through their stories, it makes me think: Wow, these were really great! The greatest? I don’t know. Each one has its own time and its own greatness.

  23. curt says:

    I forgot Boozer, but you know, he wasn’t even mentioned in the column, so I guess we’re ignoring him.

    Barkley, Pippen, Malone, Stockton and Robinson were all in both teams, which actually are the same version.
    96 version:
    Better Barkley, Better Pippen, Better Malone, Slightly worse Stockton and Robinson.

    Still can’t decide, 96 looks good though, looks better than I initially thought.

  24. curt says:

    Can’t decide who’s better, it’s a wash between ’92, ’96 and to a lesser extent ’08. With Howard and Bosh as the only “centers/true bigmen”, they will have a hard time.

  25. 3kings says:

    I agree with ace. With Jordan (5-time MVP), Magic (3-time MVP), Bird (3-time MVP), you have the greatest BIG 3 assembled EVER in any team in the world ALL TIME. Plus, if you count the number of MVPs combined, team 92 wins. They’re also a team that needed not even a single timeout from the coach for the whole tournament. beat that!

  26. inthecouch says:

    cool!!i think this team will not be lost..errrr

  27. ace says:

    no more arguments needed. with MJ, MAGIC and BIRD. Lights out my friend.

  28. ECG says:

    MJ era – Ball hog started, the greatest ball hog of all time!!!!So many open teammates wherein he disregard passing. Unlike Bird and Magic in which the ball is moving and spotting for open teammates in return making them a better player. During the 90’s or shall i say Jordan’s prime illegal defense was still in effect, so one on one basketball was his strong motivation but if he plays nowadays wherein illegal defense was abolished he will be playing 1 against 5 if he will be doing one on one!I’m not against MJ but the truth is he is really a ball hog and that is the truth, just compare the assist stats between him and Magic and Larry.

    • ace says:

      @ECG, did you see how the pistons guard MJ? They almost group hugging MJ. Can anyone nowadays handle that? Nah. Even Kobe or LeBron will crying under their momma’s skirt with that kind of defense.

  29. GSPRING says:

    To state the greatest of all time would be the 92 Dream Team, the whole team is in the HALL OF FAME. This is to BUNBURY, you made a good statement trying to compare the position, like the PG position i do think that Penny and Peyton would have given Magic and Stockton fits but in the end the OG’s would come out on top because of experience. Now SHAQ and Olajuwon are a nice center tandem, but Olajuwon would be the only one to stand his own against to of the great CENTER PAT AND DA ADMIRAL. We not going to get into the shoot gaurd position we already now who has that, yeah Mich was a good player and Miller could shoot but sorry just not going to touch that area hand off. Now at the small foward position, Mullin, Pippen, Bird NEED I SAY MORE… Power Foward Position Mail Man, and Barkely who gaurding the BEASTLY positon, no one that right. Honestly all the player mention are great but i think that the 92 Drean Team could and may well be the greatest of ALL TIMES.

  30. matheous says:

    Yes:) The GOAT bald cat makes the difference.

  31. Charles says:

    The 1992 dream team had enough combination of experience and overwheleming talent to beat the 2008 squad if there was a rematch where we could go back in time. The only real weak link on the 1992 squad is Lattner, the 2008 squad has Michael Redd and Tashaun Prince, who are good players but not great players. With the exception of Lattner on the ’92 squad, everyone was great, including Chris Mullen.

    The 96 Squad wins the Center position though, swithcing out Ewing for O’Neal and Olajuwon is no comparison. Ewing is great but one great over 2 greats? 2 greats wins. Unless that one great is Wilt Chamberlain maybe.

  32. NASH13KOBE24 says:

    1992 is by far the best basketball team ever assembled, but the next best would have to be 2008 with Kobe, Wade, CP3 and LeBron. Next would be 1996, then 2000 (we won’t even mention 2004).

  33. Nom Nom says:

    Can’t compare to the Dream Team.

  34. Bunbury says:

    Who’s better between 92 & 96 depends on this: who’s better between Magic & Stockton VS Penny & Payton; Ewing & Laettner VS Shaq & Olajuwon; Jordan & Drexler VS Miller & Richmond; Mullin & Bird VS Grant Hill. It’s pretty close. 92 has the advantage on the SG’s but 96 on the centers. Magic and Bird were late on their careers in 92 while Penny and Hill were probably at their best in 96. You can argubly say that 96 was better than 92.

  35. BASKETBALL MJ LBJ DR.J says:

    all those teams are close but not really 2000 i dont think
    1992 is the best i can think of

    • craig says:

      The way that the players from the great teams in the 80’s moved the ball will never be duplicated!
      True team play is hard to beat. Look at how good Lebron is and how he cant win in a big series.
      You gotta have it upstairs. This is why Laetner made the team. The 92 team had some old guys on it but all the players had complete respect for each others ability.
      Tough for the new teams because international play since 92 has closed the gap. however we have come back to the field a bit as well.
      Bird knows who the greatest team ever is!