USA basketball legend Clyde Drexler has insisted that the side that will represent the United States at this summer’s Olympic Games cannot rival their fabled predecessors of 1992.
The Dream Team squad which claimed gold in Barcelona was the first to incorporate professionals from the NBA and included such greats as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, plus Drexler himself.
Coached by the late Chuck Daly, it won its games by an average of over 43 points, a dominant run capped by a 116-48 defeat of Angola.
Modern maestros such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant will likely help to defend the USA’s Olympic title in London with the side starting as undoubted favourites. However Drexler, who also won a NBA title with the Houston Rockets, insists that the current roster – helmed by coach Mike Krzyzewski – is not the greatest ever.
“They’re going be very good,” Drexler said. “Jerry Colangelo and Coach K have done a great job with our Olympic team and they’ve made good things happen. Can they be better than the 1992 Olympic team? It’s highly unlikely but they should be very good.
“If they win, they’ll be just as good. But there’s only one true team that’s worthy enough to known as the Dream Team, and that’s 1992.”
Not that Drexler, now aged 49, has any bias. But he acknowledges that the team that will face Great Britain in a friendly in Manchester – and perhaps again in London – will have one advantage over the line-up of two decades ago: continuity,
Back then, the group’s only familiarity was either from being opponents or appearing together at the All Star Game.
The final American squad for London will largely be a mix of the two distinct sides which emerged victorious at the last world championships or the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Despite that, Drexler has no doubts about the potency of the original – and only – Dream Team.
“When you have great players together, you don’t need one practice and the chemistry is there,” he said.
“Everyone knows how to play. I still think we would do the same thing. Coach Daly did a lot of coaching, as did (his assistants) Lenny Wilkens, Coach K, PJ Carlesimo.
“That made it a phenomenal experience.”
Watch USA destroy Angola
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