The USA Basketball Federation began fielding a national team comprised of professional players in 1992, the original and one true "Dream Team."
Since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics team, USA Basketball has had it's ups and downs, never repeating the true brilliance of the original Dream Team.
With the 2012 London Games two weeks away, the 2012 edition of the Dream Team has been making some noise about challenging the original Dream Team, sparking a debate that has turned into an all out wild fire.
The 2012 team and the 1992 team could indeed be the most dominate teams ever. But what about the 08' team? 1996? The not so infamous 04' squad? Time to find out how much bragging rights each Dream Team has. We count down 5 to 1, "worst" to first, in our Dream Team rankings.
5. "The Nightmare Team" - 2004 Olympics - Bronze Medalists - Roster - Coach Larry Brown
USA Basketball teams have been dubbed Dream Teams since 1992, but the worst edition of the six Olympic teams since then has been forever deemed "The Nightmare Team." Lets establish this right off the bat: Being the worst Dream Team is still pretty damn good, and talent wise this was still an imposing team. But they flat out embarrassed themselves at the Greek 04' Olympics. Allen Iverson led the team in scoring while shooting 37% from the field!!! On a USA Olympic team!! Guys routinely shoot in the 60-70% range because of the easy buckets, but Iverson's ball-hoggery is just one of the many telling stats from this team. The Nightmare Team also sported such superstars as Stephon Marbury (42% from the field), Richard Jefferson (32% from the field), and Emeka Okafor (0%). Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony were on this team, but all were young and struggled. The team finished with a 5-3 record in the Olympic games. This is by far the worst and most embarrassing professional Olympic team ever fielded by the U.S. They are the only team to not win the gold medal.
4. "The Vince Carter Dunk-n-Scream Team" - 2000 Olympics - Gold Medalists - Roster - Coach Rudy Tomjanovich
The only proper way to start the discussion of the 2000 Olympic team is with a video of The Best Dunk Ever, In Basketball History:
Ok everyone take a break from reading and show this to co-worker, go dunk on the 7 foot goal in the driveway, etc. Ok, back to reading? Never gets old. On that one play alone, the 2000 team lived up to "Dream Team" status. If you don't already know, this is Vince Carter jumping over France's 7 foot tall center.
Besides The Dunk, this team was pretty average. They were undefeated in the Olympics, a perfect 8-0, but won several games that were closer than they should have been. Playing Lithuania in the semi-finals, the U.S. held on for a two point victory, 85-83. Lithuania had a shot to win at the buzzer. While this team did enough to win, they didn't have the 4o something victory margin most Dream Teams should have. Besides Carter, this team was led by Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Jason Kidd.
Now we have 3 very good teams left... It starts to get interesting..
3. "The Redeem Team" - 2008 Olympics - Gold Medalists - Roster - Coach K
The battle for the 3rd spot is really tight between the 08' squad and the 96' team, but I've got the 08' squad coming up a bit short. The 96' team didn't really play any close games, continuing the dominance from 92'. However in the 08' gold medal game, an impressive Spain team took the U.S. right down to the wire. To be fair, the Spain team the U.S. faced was stacked with solid NBA talent. The talent difference between 1996 and 2008 was massive - the game of basketball had clearly spread around the world.
The main goal of this team was clear: to Redeem USA Basketball and make up for the awful 04' showing.
The Redeem Team did that, and once again established world dominance in the sport of basketball. The most impressive and exciting part of the 08' team was that the best of the best once again wanted to play for USA Basketball. Coach K and Jerry Colangelo brought together the most talented players in the world and created the best team on the planet. This team was led by Dwayne Wade, LeBron, Kobe and Carmelo. Dwight Howard was the strength in the middle, something that the 2012 team lacks. Veteran Jason Kidd also played a role as a veteran guide. The Redeem Team went 8-0 on their way to the gold, beating teams by an average of 28.
2. "The Dream Team II" - 1996 Olympics - Gold Medalists - Roster - Coach Lenny Wilkins
The Dream Team II had a tough act to follow, but they did so admirably. The second edition of the greatest show on earth had some carryovers from the original squad, but also brought in some youth. Balance and size were the calling cards of this overpowering team. 9 of 10 players averaged 5 or more points per game, and 7 averaged 8 points or more. In the post, this team was flat out stacked, one of the main reasons they would have an advantage on the 08' team. There were three players standing seven feet tall (David Robinson, Shaq and Hakeem Olajuwon). 92' carryovers Karl Malone and Charles Barkley also gave the 96' team some strength in the post. Not only were these guys country strong, but they were crazy skilled. Hakeem and The Admiral were two of the most talented 7 footers to play in the league, and they easily manhandled the awestruck opponents.
The 96' team wasn't just big in the post, but they had long, athletic wings as well. Grant Hill was coming into his hay-day and playing a big scoring wing. Scottie Pippen was still one of the best and most athletic small forwards in the league. Penny Hardaway was also an exciting young athlete who got up and down the court for the 96' squad. Reggie Miller provided a dead eye shooter, something recent 08' and 2012 teams have lacked.
The 96' team didn't have the mega-super-stars that the original Dream Team had in Jordan, Bird and Magic, but the second version was younger and still a dominant team. They outscored their opponents by an average of 32.
1. "The Dream Team" - 1992 Olympics - Gold Medalists - Roster - Coach Chuck Daly
The 1992 Olympics is the true, original, one and only Dream Team. They were rock stars and then some at the Barcelona games. Jordan, Bird and Magic, the golden era of the NBA, all together on one team.
The 2012 team can talk all they want, but they have nothing on the original. You can see our complete breakdown of 2012 vs. 1992 here, but here is the abridged version of why 1992 would win:
The 1992 team would dominate the paint, the 1992 team had Michael Jordan, and the 1992 team had the it factor.
They will always be the true Dream Team, even if Christian Laettner was on it.Back to the Olympics Newsfeed