BARRETT: Better than the Dream Team?

LeBron James.

What was once domination – Kobe throwing no-look passes to LeBron; Bird tapping the ball out of mid-air to Magic – is now mediocrity.

That basically sums it up right now. The USA basketball team allowed 127 points and lost to lowly Canada in Sunday’s third-place FIBA World Cup game.

Guys, really?

Despite stars Anthony Edwards and Jalen Brunson present and accounted for, this roster wasn’t the best.

But, hey, that wasn’t the problem.

Unlike the 1992 “Dream Team” or 2008 “Redeem Team,” this group had no spirit, no swag, and no energy.

Call me old-fashioned. I don’t care if it’s The Olympics or a rec basketball game where you’re wearing red, white, and blue, you’ve got to give it your all in these games.

Again, unlike a guy like Bird, no one dove on the floor. And now, Germany hoists the trophy.

But what if I told you: there’s room for redemption.

Next year, Team USA is set to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games. The rumored roster is, well, reminiscent of ’92.

According to The Athletic, LeBron James is “ready to commit.” Apparently, he’s recruiting some friends, too.

Rumored additions: Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, Bam Adebayo.

Holy cow.

Now, look, when it comes to the best Olympic team of all time, I’ve debated ’98 (Jordan, Bird, Magic, Barkley, Malone, Stockton) and ’08 (Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Howard, Carmelo, Paul) before. It’s a lot closer than people think.

What, are you going to count out one of those teams?

But for the sake of argument – since they paved the way – let’s compare the Dream Team and that rumored 2024 roster.

In my opinion, there are three things this match-made-in-heaven matchup would come down to: starpower, playstyles, and leadership.

First, starpower. Yes, I know everyone’s a star – that’s why they’re playing.

Digging a little deeper, who’s in their prime? One side has prime Jordan, Barkley, Robinson, Ewing, Pippen, Malone, Stockton, and Mullins.

Bird, Magic, and Clyde were not in their primes.

The other side sees prime Curry, Kyrie, Tatum, and Embiid, but out-of-prime LeBron (so they say), Durant (maybe), Draymond, and Davis.

Starpower goes to ’92.

Next, playstyles.

Granted, the ’92 team is pretty complete, but I have to give this one to our fantasy team, video game, not-yet-confirmed 2024 squad.

You have limitless shooters in Curry, Booker, and Kyrie. You have do-it-all big men in Embiid, Davis, and old-school Adebayo. As for creating your own shot, Tatum, Durant, and Lillard are three of the best of all time.

Oh, and orchestrating all of this is LeBron James – arguably the greatest playmaker in history.

The ’92 team has its athleticism and flare, but this one goes to ’24.

Lastly, leadership.

Let’s pick the obvious representatives: LeBron and Jordan.

Despite being criticized for his hard-nosed persona, leadership comes in other ways, too. Jordan took over a game like no one in the NBA today, and would hit the last shot more times than not.

As for LeBron – love him or hate him – he can put a locker room together like no one else. From Mo Williams and Anderson Varejão to J.R. Smith and Kevin Love, people smile when they play with him.

It depends on which type of leader you want.

That’s enough for me. In a ’92 vs. ’24 matchup, who wins? Email your answer to [email protected]

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