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Old 07-26-2006, 10:38 AM   #178
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M. Salah

Interesting article comparing this new USA team to the 1992 Dream Team.

According to American standards, the 2004 version of the U.S. men’s basketball team was a disappointment. The U.S. team has a long history of Olympic basketball dominance, winning the gold medal in 12 of 14 Olympic competitions from 1936-2000. The 2004 team had a long history of sucking. There was no logical reason for that team to not win the gold or at least the silver. The roster featured a group of proven All-stars including Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson, and a group of budding superstars in LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Amare Stoudemire, yet they jelled as well as the Larry Brown coached New York Knicks. Was it a coincidence that Brown happened to be the head coach of that national team? Just something to ponder. Instead of dominating the competition, the U.S. brought home the bronze, finishing behind soccer powerhouses Argentina and Italy. Now that the 15 finalists for the 2006 U.S. national team’s roster were announced Tuesday, it looks like Team Director Jerry Colangelo is putting together a balanced team capable of demoralizing the competition as previous U.S. teams have become accustomed to. Instead of filling the squad with me-first players, guys with gigantic egos and a lack of anyone who could hit an open jump shot, this year’s team is filled with shooters, role-players, and team oriented players. The 2006 roster will still be cut down to 12 before Aug. 19, leaving 3 players hanging in the balance, but for the first time since the mid 90s our national team looks like an unstoppable force. The best team ever assembled in history was the 1992 Dream Team, which featured future Hall of Famers at every position. This team is a lot younger, and less experienced than the 1992 team, but the future Hall of Fame potential is still there. Here is a break down of which 2006 star is most likely to fill the role of their 1992 counterpart.

2006 Roster Finalists

Carmelo Anthony F (Denver Nuggets)
Gilbert Arenas G (Washington Wizards)
Shane Battier F (Houston Rockets)
Chris Bosh F (Toronto Raptors)
Bruce Bowen F (San Antonio Spurs)
Elton Brand F (Los Angeles Clippers)
Kirk Hinrich G (Chicago Bulls)
Dwight Howard F/C (Orlando Magic)
LeBron James F (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Antawn Jamison F (Washington Wizards)
Joe Johnson G/F (Atlanta Hawks)
Brad Miller C (Sacramento Kings)
Chris Paul G (New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets)
Amaré Stoudemire F (Phoenix Suns)
Dwayne Wade G (Miami Heat)

1992 Olympic Team Roster

Charles Barkley F (Phoenix Suns)
2006 clone: Dwight Howard

Barkley is considered to be one of the best, not to mention the nastiest, rebounders in history. If there is one thing that Howard knows how to do, it is rebounding. Only 20 years-old, Howard has already mastered the art of rebounding and is one of the best in the league at pulling down boards. If he keeps his current 11.3 rebounds/game average up, he will be right on par with Sir Charles. Look for him to keep opposing international foes from getting anywhere near the key.

Larry Bird F (Boston Celtics)
2006 clone: Carmelo Anthony

If clutch shooting was an official statistic, Anthony would be leading the league. He is quickly developing into one of the NBA’s most clutch players. Bird made a career out of making big shots. If there is one thing that the U.S. needs it is someone they can count on to make shots in a close game. While Anthony may not have the long-distant range that Bird possessed, his all-around scoring ability is extremely Bird like.

Clyde Drexler G (Portland Trail Blazers)
2006 clone: Gilbert Arenas

“Clyde the Glide” could practically float around the basketball court. He did a little bit of everything, including his signature high-flying dunks. Arenas has become the NBA’s triple-double king, plays great “D” and can soar to new heights like his counterpart Drexler. Much like Clyde, the U.S. team will count on Arenas to defend on the perimeter and break out on the fast-break.

Patrick Ewing C (New York Knicks)
2006 clone: Amaré Stoudemire

In his prime, Ewing was an absolute monster. There is no better way to describe Stoudemire. He is a freak of nature, whose basketball abilities are limitless. Much like Ewing, Stoudemire is a complete force in the paint and can throw done nasty dunks with the best of them. If he is completely healthy, Stoudemire will be a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the court.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson G (Los Angeles Lakers)
2006 clone: LeBron James

Magic was the most versatile player of his time. He could score at shooting guard, pass like a point guard, and rebound like a center. Sounds a lot like someone else I know: LeBron. In his short career, James has proven to be the best all-around player in the league. He has the tools to do all the things Magic did on the court, not to mention the same boyish smile. James and Wade have the potential to form the Magic-Jordan tandem of the next 15 years.

Michael Jordan G (Chicago Bulls)
2006 clone: Dwayne Wade

The easy choice here would be LeBron, considering the Jordan comparisons, but based on recent play Wade is a more accurate Jordan comparison. Consider that Wade plays seemingly effortless, has won a championship, become the leader of his team, and can take over games in a blink of an eye. Sounds a little bit like Michael, doesn’t it? Wade might not have the Jordan star appeal over-seas yet, but after international fans see him in China in 2008, that could very well change.

Christian Laettner F (Duke)
2006 clone: Brad Miller

(Insert “Tall, white guy joke” here). Besides skin color, Laettner and Miller don’t have much in common. While Laettner’s role on the team was strictly as a cheerleader, Miller is a legitimate center who will bring offense and great passing. He might not play much defense, but Miller’s big frame will do enough to clog up the opposition’s lane.

Karl Malone F (Utah Jazz)
2006 clone: Elton Brand

Possibly the most consistent forward ever, Malone could score around the basket and hit 15 footers with his eyes closed, not to mention rebound like an animal. Brand’s game mimics Malone’s in every way, right down to the sweet outside jumper. He goes about his game with a workman-like complex, ala Malone. Brand might never get the recognition that Malone did, but his constancy will be a huge asset to the U.S. team.

Chris Mullin F (Golden State Warriors)
2006 clone: Bruce Bowen

Mullin was the complementary glue that held the ’92 team together. While not a star, Mullin did the little things that helped his team win. He could shoot the three, guard on the perimeter, and pester opposing team’s players. Bowen does all of this and then some. He is a great outside shooter and the best defense player on the team. He will be counted on, like Mullin, to do the little things and receive little fanfare in the process.

Scottie Pippen G/F (Chicago Bulls)
2006 clone: Joe Johnson

At 6-7, Pippen was one of the most multitalented players around. At 6-7 Johnson is on his way to becoming a multitalented star himself. These two have more than height in common. Both can pass the ball exceptionally well for their size, score when needed, and are menacing on defense. Johnson might not have the impact that Pippen had on the Dream Team, but he will be a valuable asset off the bench with his well-rounded game.

David Robinson C (San Antonio Spurs)
2006 clone: Chris Bosh

A lanky, left-handed center, with a great inside-out game. Is it Robinson or Bosh- take your pick. Bosh/Robinson might be the closet thing to an exact clone of any of the other comparisons. In his career, Robinson won a scoring crown, a rebounding title and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First team three times. Bosh can already score, rebound, and is a top-notched shot-blocker like Robinson. He is the odds on favorite to lead the Olympic Games in blocked shots.

John Stockton G (Utah Jazz)
2006 clone: Chris Paul

Paul has the potential to lead the league in assists for years to come. He is the most un-selfish player since, well, Stockton. These two tiny guards will break down defenses faster than you can say “Alley-Oop.” Paul is just be a rookie, but he is the one guy who can and should lead this team to the gold medal.
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