Imagining a 2021 USA Basketball Dream Team
Every few Summer Olympics, Team USA Basketball gets complacent and puts together a substandard team/effort that doesn't win them the gold. Then in the next Olympics, they put together a "Dream Team" of superstars to remind everyone the United States is the basketball capital of the world.
It began after the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea when the U.S. failed to reach the gold medal game for the first time ever after losing to the Soviet Union, which would go on to win the gold. Not being able to handle an embarrassing defeat at the hands of their geopolitical rival, USA Basketball decided to allow professional players to participate going forward.
What resulted was arguably the greatest team in the history of competitive sports, the 1992 Dream Team, lead by an in-his-prime Michael Jordan and nine other NBA Hall of Famers (and Christian Laettner), dominated the Summer Games in Barcelona. Famously, most of their opponents were more interested in getting autographs after the game than actually trying to compete.
Team USA enjoyed a couple more easy gold medal finishes in 1996 and 2000. After slipping up and earning a paltry bronze medal in the 2004, the 2008 "Redeem Team" led by then-reigning MVP Kobe Bryant seized the gold in the Beijing games against a loaded Spanish national team. They have since won the gold in 2012 and 2016 with much of the same cast of players and notable heroics by Carmelo Anthony.
So far, however, 2021 is shaping up to be one of those disappointing showings with bad chemistry, players being unavailable due to COVID-19 and injury, and questionable alternate picks to replace those players.
But it got me thinking, if every American player was available, what would this year's version of the Dream Team be? Here is the squad that would have been the best team they could have put out for a dominant performance and a surefire gold medal finish:
Marcus Ferro's 2021 USA Basketball Dream Team