The NBA has a big problem. It’s stuck in the 90s. A big reason is The Dream Team. The Dream Team was without question an awesome team. They carved up the international competition. In fact, during the 1992 Olympics, The Dream Team won every game by a margin of over 30 points. The closest game was against Croatia, and that was a 33-point win. I mean The Dream Team was dominant.
But… Let’s not forget that the rest of the world wasn’t all that great. Less than 20 non-US born players were in the NBA in spring 1992. Some of those players were great (Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dominique Wilkins), but those names represent the entire rest of the world. Dominating the world in basketball just wasn’t as hard for the United States back in 1992, although you might argue that it’s still not that hard in 2012. Regardless, The Dream Team didn’t have very stiff competition.
Fast forward to today. The legend of The Dream Team grows with every year. Twenty years later, and those guys practically walk on water. Kobe said that this year’s Olympic Team could be beat The Dream Team, and he was treated as if he was being disrespectful. What? This year’s team was great. They certainly were able to win. In an NBA-style finals, they would almost certain win some games. Would it really be that crazy if they won a best-of-seven? I don’t think so.
This untouchable attitude toward The Dream Team is a problem. With The Dream Team, everything after 1992 is downhill for the NBA. By continually mystifying The Dream Team, the NBA has diminished everything that follows it. Kobe is arguably among the top 10 NBA players of all time. LeBron may someday be the best all-time player, and these guys aren’t allowed to question The Dream Team. It seems that the nostalgic NBA needs to get out of the way of today’s NBA. Today’s NBA, after all, is the NBA that pays the bills.