South Shore, Lake Tahoe, Nev. – Shane Battier knows greatness when he sees it on the basketball court. He shared a lockerroom with LeBron James, one of the NBA’s premier players, on the way to earning the league title with the Miami Heat last month.
But, when it comes to comparing James’ 2012 USA Olympic team with the Dream Team of 1992, Battier, turned his favor to the team from 20 years ago.
“Every last one of those guys is in the Hall of Fame; first bout Hall-of-Famers” said Battier before he headed to a practice round at the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. “I don't think you'll ever see a collection of talent that's as deep and as good as 1992.
“If they played against each other it would be a heck of a game, but I’m partial to the ’92 team. For my money, it’s the greatest team ever assembled.”
Battier was only 14 in 1992, but he fell in love with watching Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and David Robinson. Jordan, in particular, carried a love-hate relationship in Battier’s basketball upbringing.
“I always respected what Michael could do, but I couldn’t love him,” said Battier. “I was all Detroit; “Bad Boys” all the way.”
Dream Team member Charles Barkley was even more certain about the outcome.
“I think we win by 15 or 20 points. We’re too big for them,” said Barkley during a practice round in Tahoe. “They’ve got a very small team and I think we could wear Kobe and LeBron down by putting a bunch of bodies on them. But, I think the main thing is that Patrick Ewing and David Robinson would just punish them inside.”
Former NBA standout and current announcer Steve Kerr agreed that old guard would win.
“You throw it in a simulator and see what comes out, but I’m partial to the ’92 team,” said Kerr, a five-time NBA champion who retired in 2010. He played with Jordan on three of those championship teams in Chicago. “I think it’s the greatest team ever assembled; the fire power on that team with Jordan, Pippen and Barkley. Pretty tough to beat.”
“Only Kobe and LeBron; those are the only two guys who would make our team,” concluded Barkley. “They are two of the 10 greatest players ever in the game.”
By Craig Smith, former director of media relations for the U.S. Golf Association.