Matthew Lickona 2:43 p.m., June 19
The Impossible Dream Team
My father used to say: "the older you get, the better you were." Maybe this is a variation: "the better they were."
All this bruhaha about Dream Team 2012 (Kobe, Lebron) vs Dream Team 1992 (Magic, Bird) and who would win...
There was no Olympics in 1962, so they never played together. But I would dearly love to see how the all-stars from that season would have done against the alleged dream teams.
Small Forward: Lebron? Meet Elgin Baylor. Baylor averaged 38.3 points per in half a season for the Lakers (served in the National Guard) and 18.6 rebounds. Right before the opening tip, he'd lock arms with his opponent, grind his teeth, and ask, "how you wanna do this?"
Power Forward: Bob Pettit, St. Louis Hawks. He averaged 31.1 ppg on a team with three 20-point scorers. Also 18.7 rebounds. In a championship game against the Celtics he scored 50 with a broken wrist.
Point Guard: Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals. the greatest basketball player who ever walked the earth. In the '61-'62 season, he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists (and as Nick Canepa pointed out, unlike today, these were passes that led to a basket).
That's a triple-double every game. Go ahead, TRY THIS AT HOME!
Shooting Guard: Jerry West, 30.8 for the Lakers. Earned the nickname "Mr. Clutch" around this time.
Center: Got a problem here. Bill Russell (who has how many championship rings?): 18.9 and 23.6 and uncounted blocked shots.
Or Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged 50.4 and 25.7 for the season. And if Wilt could shoot free throws from the top of the key, I'd spot the other teams 10 pts. (for two summers, 1962 and 1963 I was the SF Warriors' "ball boy" for their fall practices at San Jose City College. One of my tasks: retrieve the Dipper's free throws after practice. He shot one-handed line drives that boinged everywhere. When frustrated, he'd take a few steps back and fling home at least eight of ten).
Worse comes to worse: put Wilt at power forward.
The bench? Haven't thought that through.
The '62 squad might be appalled at how well the 2012's shoot from deep (in those days, a jumper from over 20 feet made you a "gunner"). Also the athleticism of the current players, especially the taller ones.
Fifty years ago the game was slower. Offenses were set patterns designed to free up mid-range jumpshots. And it was much more lateral than vertical: Baylor went through, not over, you. So did Oscar, any time he wanted.
A final factor: the '62 players didn't act like entitled rock stars. They were all business, Sonny, not personal.