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Dream Team vs. '12: How many can get to Hall of Fame status?

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Dream Team vs. '12: How many can get to Hall of Fame status?

The 2012 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team is already making headlines, but most of it has come from their talk off the court instead of their play on it.
Two weeks before the start of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, 2008 gold medal winner Kobe Bryant sparked a massive debate by comparing the current team to the 1992 Dream Team.

Bryant told reporters last week that the current Olympic team, which defeated the Dominican Republic 113-59 in their first pre-Olympic tune-up last night, could defeat the 1992 Dream Team, had the two teams been able to play in their prime.
That 1992 team, of course, consisted of 11 eventual Hall of Famers, headlined by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley.
David Robinson, Chris Mullin, John Stockton, Karl Malone and Larry Bird were also future Hall of Famers on the roster. Christian Laettner of Duke was the lone amateur on the team, which defeated their opponents by an average margin of more than 51 points.
Bryant's comments elicited a response from Jordan, who told Associated Press reporters Thursday that there was "no comparison" between the two teams, and that he would "like to think that we had 11 Hall of Famers on that team, and whenever they get 11 Hall of Famers you call and ask me who had the better Dream Team."
So if that's what Jordan needs to begin the discussion, that 11 players from the 2012 team one day be elected to the Hall of Fame, the question would then become: How close can the 2012 team get to 11 Hall of Famers?
At this point in their careers, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James can be considered surefire Hall of Famers. James could not retire today and be a lock for Springfield like Bryant could, but it's a safe assumption that James' career path eventually will lead him there.
And while Kevin Durant is just 23 years old, the three-time reigning scoring champion and three-time All-Star has already made one NBA Finals appearance and should make at least a few more. Should he remain healthy, the odds are with Durant on him being. Still, at 23 years old it's a near impossible projection.
The next players with a chance to make the Hall of Fame are Chris Paul,Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony.
Paul has established himself as one of the game's best all-around point guards, and is just entering the prime of his career at 27 years old. A five-time All-Star, Paul has averaged 18.8 points and 9.8 assists for his career, has led the league in steals four times and assists twice.
Like Durant, Westbrook is just 23 years old and is locked into a long-term deal with the Thunder. And like his teammate, Westbrook seems to just be tapping into his potential, and if he is able to team up with Durant and win multiple championships, Westbrook could be Hall-bound.
Anthony has established himself as one of the game's best scorers, but it's unknown if he will ever possess the leadership ability to take over games and get past the hump and into the NBA Finals. Anthony has a post-season record of 16-38, including 0-8 with the Knicks. Still, a five-time All-Star and All-NBA selection, the 28-year-old Anthony has plenty of time to improve his resume to potential Hall status.
Kevin Love and Deron Williams each have outside chances, with the former having the better shot at just 23 years old. It wouldn't be fair to project 19-year-old Anthony Davis' career path, although this year's No. 1 overall pick's future looks bright.
The rest of the 2012 team (Andre Iguodala, James Harden, Tyson Chandler) do not have any real shot at the Hall of Fame, meaning an absolute best-case scenario would give the 2012 Olympic team nine Hall of Famers, two short of the dream team.
Some argue a truer comparison would be if the 2012 team would have had injured stars Derrick Rose (ACL), Dwight Howard (back) and Dwyane Wade (knee) on its roster, but as Comcast SportsNet's Stacey King points out, the 1992 Dream Team did not have Shaquille O'Neal or Isaiah Thomas, either.
But more so than anything, it's worth noting that nine players on this year's team couldpotentially make the Basketball Hall of Fame. Eleven from the 1992 team didmake it.
If the above players enjoy the same successes they have thus far in their careers for the next 10 seasons, only then will they enter the discussion to one day enter the Hall of Fame. For all but one player on the 1992 Dream Team, there is no discussion. They are cemented as 11 of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game.
And while the number of Hall of Famers a team possesses may not be the difference between winning and losing a single game -- as Jordan argues -- between two entirely different eras of athletes, the argument the Dream Team being more dominant in their respective era is hard to argue.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."