The New Dream Team?

I was 6 when the original Dream Team started their Olympic campaign in Barcelona, but I still remember having their poster on my wall. That team meant so much to American basketball, and it still does. That team asserted that the United States could assemble the best basketball talent in the world, and that no one else was even close.

Now, LeBron James and Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of USA basketball, say the 2012 Olympic team is going to measure up to the original Dream Team.

“They set the standard for USA Basketball in ’92 with all the great players they had,” James said. “But we have some great ones, as well. We have some Hall of Famers, some champions. So it’s going to be a great (team).”

While I will agree that the 2012 Olympic team may match up to the ’92 team in terms of talent, I’m going to stop the comparison right there. What LeBron doesn’t seem to understand is that talent only goes so far. The original Dream Team had a chemistry that was unbelievable. They were out there playing for America, not themselves.

We’ve seen just about all the players that will be on the 2012 team play internationally together, and the chemistry just doesn’t compare. You see too much selfish basketball from today’s players to even think that they can pull off what the original Dream Team did.

The original Dream Team had Jordan, Bird and Magic, the guys that everyone loved. The 2012 team will have LeBron and Kobe, the guys that everyone loves to hate. No team will ever get the support that the original Dream Team got.

Dwyane Wade went against what his Miami Heat teammate said and stuck with common sense.

“The Dream Team is a team — you don’t really want to touch that team,” said Wade. “An amazing team. But (2012 is) going to be a pretty good team. But I don’t want to touch the Dream Team. . . . It’s always kind of the bar (from which all other Olympic teams are compared). From that standpoint, I kind of want them to stay the bar.”

That’s right, they should stay the bar. They’re the bar that no other team will ever measure up to. They’re the original, the “founding fathers” of American basketball. Any comparison to them is almost unpatriotic. It’s like Mitt Romney starting off his 2012 campaign by saying he’s going to measure up to George Washington.

I’ll expect the 2012 Olympic team to win the gold medal. I’ll even expect them to win by an average of 30 points a game or more. But I’ll never expect them, or any other American basketball team, to measure up to the legend of the Dream Team.