It’s easy to get sucked up into the debate. It’s compelling, right? The best team arguably ever assembled, but held up in spite of the vast differential in athleticism, conditioning, and speed of the game. The modern team held up as a contradictory juxtaposition, a contrarian’s dream, with Kobe, LeBron, and KD at the forefront.
The debate over who would win in a match of the Dream Team ’92 vs. “We Wish We Had A Name That Rhymed With Team” Team ’12 has broken out over the headlines, with even Michael Jordan himself stepping down from the heavens and taking a break from ruining the Bobcats to chime in on how his guys would destroy the pups, and Kobe Bryant going right back at him, a sign in and of itself of how Bryant considers himself in Jordan’s context.
(Think about that. Who else is going to go right back at Michael Jordan in the press? LeBron James isn’t doing it. Allen Iverson wasn’t doing it. Only Kobe Bryant would have the audacity to question the GOAT and sound reasonable doing it. That’s Kobe.)
But in reality, it’s a ridiculously dumb question. Forget all the impossibilities in trying to really evaluate two sets of players out of their own eras. Forget the injury questions and who gets who with what injury erased. (If today’s team gets Dwight Howard back, does the Dream Team get Larry Bird at full strength?) Forget the fact that this argument has no discernible conclusion and more importantly, absolutely no impact on anything real or imagined in this world.
It’s the Dream Team. You’re not fighting reality here. You’re fighting legend. It’s like trying to say “Yeah, Paul Bunyan could chop down a lot of trees, but check out this new forestry machinery we invented! You could actually be able to dwarf a 60-foot-tall man’s production, but guess what? He still has a giant blue ox and you still have a thresher. You’re not winning that fight in public discourse.
One member who understands the power of the reductionist argument? Deron Williams.
Deron Williams on the Dream Team vs 2012 talk: “im not even going to engage in it. That team was the best team ever…”
— Sean Sweeney (@SEANesweeney) July 14, 2012
And that’s it. “That team was the best ever.” Williams is as fierce a competitor as anyone. After all, he turned down more money to play in a smaller market… wait, no that’s not right. Just kidding. But Williams isn’t going to back down to anyone. And yet he knows that this isn’t a conversation you can win. It’s not about who the actual better team is. It’s just about that perception.
And in that realm, the Dream Team are undefeated.