If you got in on this summer's bar argument over which U.S. Olympic basketball team was better, and were convinced that the Dream Team could beat anything that walked the earth, including a team of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, then NBA 2K13 has good news for you.
The United States' 1992 Olympic basketball team of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley prevailed over their 2012 counterparts, 133-126, in a simulation run on NBA 2K13, which releases on Tuesday. It was not a runaway victory, but the Dream Team held a lead for all but one brief instance in the second quarter.
This game was set for two computer-controlled teams to play each other, in full 12-minute quarters, on Hall-of-Fame difficulty (which governs computer-controlled players' behavior.)
2K Sports, at the urging of executive producer Jay-Z, reunited the entire 1992 Olympic team in a video game for the first time in 20 years, mostly to settle the argument Bryant started when he ventured that the 2012 Olympians would win.
Matchups, of course, are at the heart of this argument, and a really bad one in favor of the Dream Team made a huge difference. Chris Paul, paired off against Magic Johnson, just had no answer for a guy eight inches taller and a lot heavier. That's probably a big reason why Magic ended up as the player of the game, leading all scorers with 34 points on 15-of-17 shooting, while adding five rebounds and six assists.
I had some difficulty with video capture in the first quarter, which explains the dearth of highlights from it. Team USA 2012 took a 37-36 lead at 10:45 of the second quarter on a jumper by Russell Westbrook, which you can see above. It was the only lead Team USA 2012 had all game. Twice they got it to within 1 point, the latest with about 9 minutes to go in the third quarter, but the Dream Team had very little trouble scoring and forced Team USA 2012 to methodically attack the basket. They only got 14 points on the fast break. A 17-6 run in the fourth quarter still got Team USA 2012 no closer than 5.
Paul still distributed eight assists. Kevin Durant led the 2012 Olympians with 31 points, while James and Bryant each added 22. Carmelo Anthony had a respectable 16 points, six rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes of work, hitting all eight of his shots.
Jordan had 26 points on 12-for-22 shooting, with four assists, a steal and a block. Clyde Drexler picked up 16 points, 14 in the first half, before sitting most of the second. Larry Bird played more than he did when he was on this team in real life, as he suffered from back trouble for most of 1992 and was selected mostly in honor of his overall career. He logged 23 minutes in the game and hit all four of his shots, scoring nine points.
Barkley's 34 minutes were the second most of anyone on the Dream Team, and he came away with just six points and four rebounds, matched up against James for most of the evening. David Robinson had probably the game's best dunk, slipping off a screen through a completely vacated lane to throw down a thundering, two-handed, let-me-clear-my throat jam.
Jordan was right that the Dream Team's defense and shot blocking would likely prove the difference, but it wasn't by a wide margin. The Dream Team picked up five steals and four blocks, but Team USA 2012 still shot 62 percent and did a little bit better in rebounding, although having more misses gooses that stat. The teams attempted only seven three point shots combined.
One note: Neither team's lone collegian—Anthony Davis for 2012, Christian Laettner for the Dream Team—got into the game.
NBA 2K13 arrives in stores on Tuesday.