Dream Team 1992 vs 2012 – Who would win?

Who would win – the 1992 USA Olympic Dream Team vs the 2012 Supreme Team? Ever since Kobe Bryant had the audacity to claim that the 2012 USA Olympic squad would take the 1992 team the basketball world has been debating this unanswerable question. The vast majority of pundits seem to have taken the view that the 1992 Dream Team would not only beat this year’s Olympic squad but would do so with ease. When TCC spoke with Magic Johnson just a few weeks ago he was asked about it and said that there was no doubt about it – the Dream team was the greatest team ever assembled.



In today’s media world it appears that sitting on the fence is the most heinous of crimes. I don’t see it as clear cut as messrs Smith and Parker above but taking an extreme position and shouting loudly about it seems to have replaced thoughtful and considered debate. Before I can declare my position on the issue at hand, I will try and break this imaginary match up down, but before I can even do that we must establish the parameters of this game. Most importantly teams are to have the players at the stage of their career entering the Olympics as opposed to in their prime. It is to be a one off game, under FIBA rules, which squad has a better chance of getting the win?

Firstly I’m discounting Davis, Iguodala, Laettner, Love, Bird and Mullin. In a 40 minute competitive game I don’t think they have any chance of court time. John Stockton was hurt and James Harden would also struggle to see the floor with both coaches pushing for the win. That leaves the following players going at it:



1992 Dream Team

2012 Supreme Team

Clyde Drexler

Chris Paul

Michael Jordan

Deron Williams

Scottie Pippen

Russell Westbrook

Magic Johnson

LeBron James

Charles Barkley

Carmelo Anthony

Karl Malone

Kevin Durant

David Robinson

Kobe Bryant

Patrick Ewing

Tyson Chandler

 Dream Team Matchups

The first thing that is obvious is the Dream Team’s strength and depth in the front court where they undoubtedly have a size advantage over the 2012 squad, but hold on a second, is this an advantage? We have just witnessed the Miami Heat win an NBA championship often playing without a true center. In today’s NBA speed and athleticism are more effective than size and power. Which of the Dream Team’s bigs would be comfortable, or capable, of guarding a four man like LeBron, Anthony or Durant? I’m not saying that the Dream Team still don’t have the advantage in the front court, clearly they do, but I’m pointing out it isn’t as clear cut as most would have you believe. The 2012 squad would give the Dream Team all sorts of matchup problems and it is usually matchups and styles that win basketball games when talent is evenly balanced.

In my opinion the 2012 squad have the better point guards, no question. Stockton hardly played for the dream team and Johnson was well past his prime. (All-Star MVP means nothing!) The Supreme team have Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook, whichever one of these three is on the floor, it’s a no contest.

So then we are left with the most interesting part of the matchups Jordan,Pippen, Drexler and Barkley versus Kobe, Lebron, Durant and Anthony. All of these players can score the ball but the 2012 supreme team definitely have a shooting advantage with the FIBA three point line favouring Kobe but especially Durant and Melo. In the 1992 Olympics Jordan and Drexler shot in the 20% range from three and although Barkley shot the ball well he only attempted about one three a game. Defensively there is no question in my mind that 1992 have the edge. LeBron and Kobe are all NBA defenders but Durant and Anthony can be lacking on that end and the intensity of Jordan, Pippen and Barkley on the defensive side of the ball gives them the edge.


There is no certain answer to who would win, despite what players on both sides and the media will say. With the likes Jordan, Barkley, Durant and Lebron on the court it could simply be down to whoever plays well on the day. In a sports world of definitive answers and emphatic claims of ‘x’ is definitely better than ‘y’ and ‘a’ would destroy ‘b’ maybe that is a boring conclusion to reach. But at the end of the day when players like that have a breakout game then no one is stopping them.

Either team is easily capable of winning a one off game, if they were to play 100 times I’d say that 1992 wins 60 of the games due to fact that they do have a considerable size advantage and if Chandler gets in foul trouble the 2012 team would have huge problems inside. So that’s it settled then, the 1992 are probably the better squad.

Dwight Howard would make a difference vs the Dream Team

Dwight Howard starring alongside Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice

Not quite, there is one thing that most people are forgetting. The 1992 Dream team invited 12 players and they were all available for the games. This year’s squad for the Olympic Games lost a few players due to injury, most notably Dwight Howard. Ok, so we have all lived through the Dwightmare of the last year of trade talk and yes he looks like the guy in the waiting room in Beetlejuice but despite the character flaws there is no denying that he is a force of nature on the court and a defensive machine. If he is playing for the 2012 squad it helps even up the front court battle and then I say this year’s squad crush the Dream Team, easy, book it, no doubt and it’s not even close!

Who do you think would win this epic matchup? Let u know in the comments!


TCC will be reporting live from the upcoming Team USA vs GB games in Manchester this week. If you are attending make sure to let us know on our Facebook or Twitter. We will be looking to speak with as many Irish Basketball fans as possible that are making the trip to see the ‘Supreme Team’ in action!



Niall is the Co-Founder of the Courtside Collective and www.BasketballDirect.com . He was one of the founding members of North Star in 2002. He has coached at a variety of levels from kids to senior men's teams. He is currently coach of the LYIT National League team and women's college team.

One Comment

  1. Calo

    / Reply

    Comparing players and teams from different eras is difficult.. That said i think 92 wins and is a better team even with Howard.. Reason is the overall level of training of players is better now.. Kobe and Lebron wouldn’t play like they do had they not followed magic and mj.. The level of training for the players of today is better and the pool of players is bigger because of the global effect of the only dream team. The game is more open now because no hand checking is allowed which wasn’t the case when magic and mj were playing.. Nobody could check mj then and nobody could now especially without the handcheck!. Its an insult to saw John Stockton wouldn’t get run and couldn’t play with the guys of today!. Total garbage.. I think all the great players of other eras would be great today with the available coaching, nutrition, strength training etc…..

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