Carmelo Anthony's record breaking performance against the Nigerian Olympic team may have ended the debate about whether the current Team USA could ever beat the coveted 1992 "Dream Team."
Anthony, forward coming off of the bench in place of Kevin Durant and Lebron James, led Team USA in scoring as he managed to make a U.S. Olympic basketball history record by scoring 37 points in 14 minutes. The team ended up routing Nigeria in an 83-point blowout Thursday night, beating the 1992 Olympic Dream Team's record of a 68-point lead in a victory against Angola.
After Team USA's 156-73 win over Nigeria on Thursday, some questioned if the team had officially proved that they could indeed be better than the 1992 Olympic squad. For weeks, fans, analysts and media professionals have been debating about Team USA's 1992 Dream Team roster that consisted of the likes of Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley.
Still, the 2012 team's power players featuring Anthony, James, Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler have been making believers of some basketball fans. Bryant, shooting guard for the 2012 men's Olympic team, said he thought his team could best the 1992 squad.
"Well, just from a basketball standpoint, they obviously have a lot more size than we do – you know, with [David] Robinson and [Patrick] Ewing and [Karl] Malone and those guys," Bryant said in a Yahoo Sports report. "But they were also – some of those wing players – were also a lot older, at kind of the end of their careers. We have just a bunch of young racehorses, guys that are eager to compete."
However Jordan, shooting guard from the Dream Team who is considered by many to be one of the best basketball players of all time, questioned Bryant's logic about the matter, saying there was "no comparison" between the two teams.
"For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done," Jordan said in a CBS News report last month.
Charles Barkley, a forward on the Dream Team, initially agreed with Jordan's sentiments.
"I just started laughing," Barkley told Philadelphia radio station 97.5. "How old is Kobe Bryant? He's 34? And he's calling us old? At the time, we were only like 28, 29. Michael Jordan and me were the same age. We were both 29. ... Other than Kobe, LeBron (James) and Kevin Durant, I don't think anybody else on that team makes our team."
However, Anthony's record-breaking performance on Thursday may have proved Barkley and other critics wrong.
Barkley admitted that the team had a chance at beating his old Olympic team after watching them break records Thursday.
"That's probably how many points they'd beat the '92 team by ... if we played today," Barkley told ESPN.com after the game.
Still, former Dream Team member and renowned retired point guard Magic Johnson admitted that the current team could be placed on the same level as his squad.
"I want to congratulate the guys on their continued dominance in London," Johnson said. "This is starting to look a lot like our 1992 Dream Team. I look forward to watching them continue to drive for that gold medal and bring it home for the USA."
However, Anthony made sure to emphasize that his team was not trying to compete with the old Olympic squad that is still being admired by fans 20 years later.
"When we're out there on the basketball court, we're not thinking about what the 1992 Dream Team did or anything like that," said Anthony who led his team with 10-for-12 three pointers. "We respect those guys and we understand what those guys did. We understand the standards that those guys set. But we're playing for ourselves right now, for our country, for this moment."
Instead of focusing on how to top the Dream Team, Anthony said his quad is putting their energies into creating their own legacy.
"We're not out there on the basketball court making plays and making shots and playing defense and saying, 'This is (like) the '92 Dream Team,'" Anthony told the press after his big game. "Those guys did what they did in 1992 and now we have the chance to do something special."