Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sports Talk: Reminiscing The Dream Team

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published June 27.
It's finally happened: LeBron James has his NBA title seven years into his career and two years after his big move to the Miami Heat. It is hard for me to believe the guy is less than a year older than me and dominating this nation-wide loved sport.
As exciting as the Miami win is for the Heat fans and LeBron lovers and, of course, the players and franchise itself, the attention of basketball lovers from East to West is already shifting on to the next big thing.
What is the next big thing?
There’s always plenty in hoops nation. First off, tomorrow is the much-anticipated NBA draft where all will see their favorite amateurs officially go pro. Even if it can be assumed which jersey Anthony Davis will claim (New Orleans...??), we all want to see where are favorite college stars land and which up-and-coming talents our favorite pro teams land.
Second off, no matter where Davis goes, his and LeBron's title claiming for the year is not quite over. Davis and LeBron and even Oklahoma's Kevin Durante will be joining forces to wear the same uniform on the United States Olympic team in late July. Once again, those who were rivals just last week and over the past four years will come together as the best of the best to claim gold in London.
While keeping up with our favorite college teams or following the NBA season after season may be the highlight of your sports world, there will always be pride in America's Olympic team. 
Basketball has been held at every Summer Olympic event since 1936 and the U.S. team has made it on the medal stands all but one year, 1980. In fact, we have only not been at the top of the stands holding gold four times. Most recently, we took third in the 2004 Athens Olympics. 
Ah, yes, so much constant excitement in the basketball world at this very moment; however, even amid the draft, the Heat's title and the upcoming Olympic team, there is chatter of the past.
Last week was the release of the documentary "The Dream Team," featuring the 1992 Olympic championship team made up of the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Larry Byrd, and Charles Barkley--just to name a few. Twenty years later and even those not around to experience the Dream Team know who they are.
The revisit to the 1992 team has surfaced one question among many of today's fans: How would the Dream Team hold up to today's all-stars and future Hall of Famers in the NBA? 
I will not pretend to have the knowledge to weigh in on that debate. Here is what I do believe, though: It was a lot more than skill on the court that immortalized the Dream Team for ages to come.
Big personalities in addition to skills made up the '92 team, making them a full package deal when it comes to entertainment. Additionally, though, they were the heroes who won the Olympics after the U.S. had fallen to the Soviet Union in the semi-finals in 1988.
Even more, they made up the first United States Olympic team composed of professional basketball players rather than amateurs only. They stepped into the global arena and dominated with 40-point margin victories.
Witnessing these amazing athletes bring pride to our nation in such a brilliant way—Olympic gold—was a first. In 2010 the entire team was inducted to the basketball Hall of Fame (after ten of the guys had done it individually already). That goes to show what that team is and will always be in our nation’s eyes and hearts.
I have to believe that despite what talent comes through the NBA, another Dream Team will require more than just a bucket of talent. I do not doubt that LeBron will live on long after his career. I am sure a number of the Olympic players this year will eventually be in the Hall of Fame; but it will take something beyond individual talent coming together for moment’s time to claim a title to ever go down in history as a team.

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