With no end in sight to the postponing or canceling of live sporting events due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we are relegated to debate what-ifs. So, why not.
A great argument surfacing on Twitter is which team would win if the best players from their respective era played an imaginary game or series against the best players from a different era.
The team of the ’80s/90’s looks unbeatable. A Backcourt of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan would be orgasmic for any hoops fan. Larry Bird and Hakeem Olajuwon at the Forward positions would certainly be intriguing. Don’t forget, Hakeem spent his first four years playing alongside 7’4″ Ralph Sampson.
The team of the last 20 years is also loaded.
This particular exercise has Dwyane Wade at point guard. I would replace D-Wade with Steph Curry. But, since I’m remaining disciplined, I will stick with the options given to me.
The modern Backcourt pairs up Wade with Kobe Bryant. It’s been slightly more than two months since Kobe, along with eight others, including his daughter, died in a helicopter crash. 2020 has sucked. We can all agree on that.
The modern Frontcourt would be LeBron James, Tim Duncan, and Shaquille O’Neal. No argument with that threesome.
— John Sapochetti (@johnsap25) April 6, 2020
Let’s tip it off.
At Point Guard “Magic” has a clear edge over Wade. The shooting guard matchup would be sexy. Jordan vs. Kobe would feel like a dad-son matchup. Kobe was essentially 92% of Michael Jordan. In this case, the original gets the nod over the replica.
Small Forward is as intriguing as shooting guard. Both Larry Bird and LeBron James were/are unstoppable scorers while also being the two greatest frontcourt passers in league history. LeBron’s peak has been twice as long as Bird’s. In addition, LeBron is a vastly superior defender. LeBron over Bird.
Power Forward matches up Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan. These two all-time greats are essentially the same player. Both were pure perfection. Like LeBron over Bird, Duncan’s peak was longer than Olajuwon’s. The Big Fundamental slightly over The Dream.
The ultimate contrast in styles occurs at center. Graceful, elegant and cerebral best describe Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Powerful and destructible are appropriate to characterize Shaquille O’Neal.
Kareem’s sky-hook is the most unstoppable shot in league history. Shaq’s drop step and dunk weren’t far behind. Kareem’s six league MVP’s and six Championships gives him the edge over Shaq’s single league MVP and four Titles.
So the ’80s/90’s team has the edge at point guard, shooting guard and center. The 21st-century team is better at the two forward positions.
A method I have used is to rank these players within my all-time top 30 list. Next to each player is where I rank them. Add the numbers and the team with the LOWER number wins.
The 80’s/90’s Team:
Total Points (32)
The 21st Century Team:
Total Points (55)
The ’80s/90’s team is the choice. We will never know how this mythical game or series would turn out. It is still worth dreaming about during this nightmarish time.
John Sapochetti is Co-Host
Of The “SAP & KAT SHOW”
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