Thursday, May 31, 2012

not a dream, just losing sleep

I was younger and probably slightly more impressionable back in 1992 when the Dream Team ran rampant at the Barcelona games. We are happening upon this entry because through my Spurs enjoyment I’m also subjected to commercials touting a lame, 20-year anniversary/celebration documentary of the Dream Team. I need to get a few things out the way before I rant: the serendipity of having Jordan, Bird, and Magic playing in the same NBA era was fortuitous. Without those three, who are undoubtedly three of the most strong willed and talent players ever to grace the NBA, the whole experiment wouldn’t have been quite so ‘amazing’. Since 1992, we’ve seen U.S. team after U.S team struggle as the world has gotten better and the vast NBA talent pool of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s has disappeared. There certainly were some greats around those three, but honestly, we could have thrown in Shaq (a rookie), Larry Johnson, Dennis Rodman, and/or Reggie Miller and been just fine. Aside from the big three the only NBA title(s) on the roster came from Pippen (playing with Jordon, whether you like it or not); one from Drexler later in his career, post Olympics – courtesy of Hakeem; and David Robinson with two, also post-Olympics. I count that as three: MJ, Magic, and Bird finished with 14. That’s my introduction.
Here’s the hammer : the Dream Team wasn’t that impressive. If we took the best NFL players right now, a 2012 all-pro team, and trotted them out there for a new Olympic football competition they’d destroy everyone else. We could throw the Lions out there and destroy anyone else. In fact, in 1992 the Chicago Bulls would have annihilated the Olympic field. When the most dominant professional league is hosted in the U.S. – and in 1992 it was a hundred times more talented than the next – putting an all-star team on the court vs. Venezuela isn’t really impressive. Wow! They won by 47! None of it was really impressive back then, and it’s less impressive now. We used to hate the Soviet team that won the hockey gold every Olympics because they were simply a professional team rolled out every four years to destroy everyone else. What happened in the 1980 Olympics, within an athletic competition framework, was far, far more impressive than the Dream Team. If you aren’t old enough to remember the entirety of the situation, bear in the mind the gnashing of teeth between those players, their “professional” sponsors, and the uniform. All of the Nike-owned players covered the Reebok logo on their uniforms during the medal presentation ceremony – left shoulder with a flag. They couldn’t even be bothered to simply let that go. Maybe it’s an unfair critique, but it simply added fuel to my fire because the 60- and 79-point wins over Panama and Cuba weren’t distasteful enough. I certainly don’t need to sit around and watch a documentary full of these players talking about how “there’ll never be anything like this again.” Yes, Larry there will be – when the US fields a rugby team against the All Blacks Dream Team in some Olympic games.  Also remember that all of this came about after the U.S. only won the bronze medal in 1988 – a team that was 5-0 in pool play (with a winning margin that averaged  35 per game) but lost by six point in the semi-finals. We might call this dream thing a bit of an overreaction.
The last thing I want to sit through are a bunch of Dream Teamers and journalists harkening back to the day when the USA was number 1 – in a field of amateurs.
That’s all. At least I can watch the Spurs again tonight.

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