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Sharief Easterling

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Dream vs Reality USA Basketball 2012

Posted: 07/30/2012 6:51 am

Evolution is inevitable. It's human nature to increase efficiency as time progresses. A computer or automobile from 1992 can't compete with a 2012 model, and neither can an athlete. This is as it should be. Without steady improvement in all fields how else could society advance? People were outraged when Kobe Bryant said his 2012 roster could beat 1992's Dream Team but quite frankly he's right! With the theory of evolution and advances made in sports science and nutrition over the past twenty years why wouldn't the current team be better?

People get too caught up in the mystique and historical significance of the players that were on the Dream Team. Magic, Jordan, Bird, Pippen, Barkley represent the start of the "pro sports renaissance" that created the hundred-million dollar contract, endorsement driven market of today. To most fans these athletes symbolize the "golden era" of the sport, and this feeling manifests itself into the unrealistic belief that they're unbeatable. Of course they won every game by forty points, the opposition was sub par! Remember, we only used professional players in 1992 because we didn't win gold in 1988 when America was represented by college athletes. Nine out of ten times prior to that American amateurs won the gold. Somewhere along the line the rest of the world gradually narrowed the gap to a point where they could actually compete with the American pros.

The current international influence on the NBA is undeniable. In the past decade we've seen foreign born players like Tony Parker and Dirk Nowitzki win the NBA finals MVP. Some of the best players in the league are now actually from over seas, which drastically raises the level of talent for their respective countries. Players like Marc, and Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Luis Scola, Jose Calderon, Loul Deng and the recently retired Yao Ming all played Olympic Basketball for a country other than the United States. While Team USA is still superior its obvious why some of the games in 2012 are more competitive then those of 1992.

No disrespect to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird but they were certainly past their prime by the time the Dream Team was assembled. I find it hard to believe they'd be able to keep up with Kevin Durant, Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony at this point in their career. John Stockton would look like a sacrificial lamb in front a point guard like Deron Williams or Russell Westbrook. The evolution of the sport has resulted in a league of "hybrid players". A league where the guards are much larger and more athletic, and the big men faster and more multidimensional. Think of it as "Athletic Darwinism"; future generations naturally improve upon the talent level established by their predecessors. The same theory can be applied to the NFL with players like Cam Newton, Michael Vick, and Robert Griffin III who are athletically superior to the quarterbacks of the past. In order for them to be successful in today's league they have to be! Freakishly gifted defensive players like DeMarcus Ware, and Julius Peppers make the immobile statuesque quarterbacks of yesteryear obsolete. (See Drew Bledsoe)

Even if you're skeptical about the "Athletic Darwinism" theory and you still believe the 92 team was better you have to admit the Twenty Twelve-ers are more than capable of wining a hypothetical one game elimination scenario. If it were somehow possible for the two teams to meet in a gold medal game who's to say Kobe doesn't go off for eighty points? Or Lebron doesn't have one of his forty point, seventeen rebound, thirteen assist performances? Truth is, they don't need a legendary performance to win but anytime players of that caliber take the floor such a performance is a possibility. Kobe, Lebron, Durant are the evolved forms of Jordan, Magic, Bird. The talent level of the NBA will continue to increase as the game and its players continue to evolve, its human nature. And if the best players from the U.S. are chosen in 2032 they'll most certainly be better than the 2012 team. Its okay to revere the players of the past but its ridiculous to think they set an unreachable precedent, that the last twenty years have been spent in regression rather than progression.
 

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