MIAMI — Jerry Colangelo believes the 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team will compare favorably to the 1992 Dream Team. LeBron James has seconded the motion.
“We can stack up with those guys,” the Miami Heat forward said.
Colangelo, chairman of USA Basketball, told FOX Sports Florida last week the 2012 team in London “will be a fair comparison with the Dream Team.” So FOX Sports Florida asked three expected 2012 Olympic stalwarts — James and Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — if they agree.
“I agree,” James said. “They set the standard for USA Basketball in ’92 with all the great players they had. 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).”
The Dream Team marked the first time NBA players participated in the Olympics. The team featured 11 future Hall of Famers, most notably Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The US rolled to the gold medal in Barcelona while outscoring foes by an average of 43.8 points per game.
“The Dream Team is a team — you don’t really want to touch that team,” said Wade, not wanting to say that 2012 will be see similar dominance. “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.”
The 2012 team, which mostly will be a combination of the 2008 Olympic gold medal and 2010 World Championships gold medal winners, also is expected to include Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose.
The 2008 team outscored foes by an average of 27.9 points per game. But Colangelo said he believes the 2012 unit “will be much stronger than we had in 2008” because it will be “more mature, more experienced and (have) more talent.”
“I would like to think that,” Bosh said of Colangelo anticipating the 2012 team will stack up to 1992. “The Dream Team, they were so unique because they had all those guys who had done so much already. That was the greatest team ever assembled at that time. I don’t think that will ever be replicated again. But I think we can come pretty close. We can’t make that team again. But we can make the best team of this era. That was a whole ‘nother day and age.”
Colangelo expects USA Basketball to announce 18 to 20 Olympic finalists in late January, with the final roster of 12 due June 20. So why might Colangelo, whose Americans will play an exhibition game in Barcelona in July shortly before going to London, already be saying the 2012 outfit could be in the Dream Team’s class?
“That’s pressure,” Wade said. “He’s putting the pressure on us.”