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


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.

Where could the NHL potentially finish the 2019-20 season?

Where could the NHL potentially finish the 2019-20 season?

Sunday night, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the NHL and NHLPA have begun tossing around ideas for where the league could finish potential regular season or playoff games, if the COVID-19 pause were lifted.

The NHL pause went into effect on March 12 due to concerns with the coronavirus pandemic.

Friedman reported one location discussed was North Dakota. 

"Several sites would be necessary, but Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., makes sense," he wrote. "Host of the 2005 World Junior Championships, the 2016 World Under-18s and the NCAA’s Fighting Hawks, it is an impressive facility that is definitely more suitable than many other available non-NHL options in the United States."

The NHL and NHLPA are expected to discuss other locations this week per Friedman. 

"The league and players must agree on any return-to-play scenarios," he added. "The players are very concerned about the potential of 35 per cent escrow on future paycheques, and whether or not the NHL will consider allowing that to be paid over multiple years. (CBA discussions are believed to be taking place.)"

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Bulls observations: How the Bulls' defense corralled Shaq and broke the Magic

Bulls observations: How the Bulls' defense corralled Shaq and broke the Magic

My word, the Magic are toast. The Bulls went up 3-0 in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals with a smothering 86-67 win in Orlando. Observations:

Some wonky free throw shooting

Considering the Bulls’ status as perhaps the greatest team of all time, and the Orlando Magic’s reputation as supremely talented and formidable in their own right, the putrid free throw shooting in this one was a bit difficult to wrap one’s head around.

The Bulls finished the night 18-for-31 from the charity stripe, the Magic 10-for-24 (though most of that can be chalked up to Shaquille O’Neal’s 1-for-9 outing). And on technical free throws, the two teams combined to go 0-for-5. 


At one point, Michael Jordan was captured on the Bulls’ bench attributing a missed technical to sweat in his eyes (come on, now). NBC color commentator Matt Goukas offered the arduous brand of defense played by both sides to their dead legs at the line.

Whatever the case, it was weird. Even Jordan wasn’t immune; he started the night 2-for-6 on free throws and finished 6-for-11. 

Corralling Shaq

The Bulls did an outrageous job on O’Neal tonight. In the first half, he logged just eight points on miserable 4-for-11 shooting. His line for the night: 17 points, 8-for-19 from the field and five turnovers.

The beauty is there isn’t one person to credit for the Bulls’ impressive handling of O’Neal — perhaps the single most physically imposing player in the league at the time. The rotating cast of bigs (Luc Longley and Dennis Rodman, specifically) were more than serviceable making him work in single coverage. And from a scheming perspective, the double-teams the Bulls did utilize were perfectly timed and deployed. They didn’t come every possession, and when they did, they didn’t always come from the same person, from the same direction or at the same time.

That was the beauty of this team: Virtually any player in the regular rotation — from Jordan to Pippen to Harper to Kukoc — could be trusted to time their attack deftly and bother O’Neal’s dribbling with active hands and physicality. The result was O’Neal frequently fumbling the rock while executing routine back-downs, bricking bunnies and generally appearing uncomfortable — at times, even frustrated.

When it was winning time, O’Neal and Penny Hardaway (who, it should be noted, has had some crazy smooth moments in this series) combined for five points. Greatest defense of all time. 

When the Bulls flip the switch…

In that vein… Man. When this Bulls team wants to break you, they break you.

The Magic hung around for a while in this one, and give them credit for that. In the third, they shaved a double-digit deficit to just three points, and appeared to be on pace to give the Bulls a real test in the first game of this series on Orlando’s home court. All amid pedestrian performances from their two stars — even through three, O’Neal and Hardaway had just 15 points each. 

Then, that fourth quarter happened. I mentioned O’Neal and Hardaway’s foibles in that period. As a team, the Magic mustered just 10 points in the final frame, 29 in the second half and 67 for the game. And even listing that 10-point fourth quarter belies the fact that five of those points came in the final two-and-a-half minutes of regulation, and they began the period shooting 1-for-13.

This Magic team had two of the most electrifying players in the league at the time and was fresh off a Finals berth. Yes, they were banged up (Horace Grant’s series ended in Game 1 and Nick Anderson limped off the floor in the fourth), but when the Bulls lock in, they just looked so helpless. Most teams did, I’m beginning to see.

This stat says it all:


The Magic entered the fourth trailing 63-57. They ended losers by a score of 86-67. 90s basketball, baby.

Some signature nights

Scottie Pippen’s night warrants extended mention and celebration. In the box score, he shot 11-for-14 (after starting 9-for-10) to lead the game in scoring with 27 points. He also — typically — added seven assists, six rebounds and two blocks for good measure.

One of those blocks came on a preposterous chasedown midway through the second quarter. Even more preposterous was Pippen, seemingly in one fluid motion, stripping the ball out of a Magic player’s arms as he descended from making the block in the first place. His jumper was on, his ballhandling and fastbreak work as fluid as ever. He’s awesome. 

And in addition to Rodman grinding down O’Neal, he had a signature night all-around, as well. He finished with nine points, 16 rebounds (moving his averages for the series to 12.3 points and 16.3 rebounds) and four fouls — one of them a technical in the first quarter and one a tone-setting personal on Shaq in the fourth.

These guys are beaten. The Bulls seal the sweep Monday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Jordan left this one early and banged up, but we have a feeling he’ll bounce back nicely.

Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.

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