As the US men’s basketball team heads to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, many have speculated about how this year’s team would match up with the 1992 Dream Team. There is no doubt that the 1992 team, with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird was the most talented team in Olympic history. Every player on the 1992 team, other than Christian Laettner, is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Dream Team was not the most dominant team in Olympic basketball history. The 1956 team, with Bill Russell and K.C. Jones (from the University of San Francisco) scored 773 points in eight games while allowing only 365 points. For each one point scored by their opponent, the US team scored 2.12 points, a record for Olympic games in which basketball was played indoors (since 1948). The 1992 Dream Team faced tougher competition and scored 1.6 points per point allowed, sixth best in modern Olympic basketball history. The most under-achieving US team in Olympic history is the 2004 team that won the Bronze medal but lost three games. The 2004 team only scored 1.05 points per point allowed.
The 1956 summer games were played in Melbourne in November and December. Bill Russell, the team’s captain and biggest star, delayed the beginning of his pro career with the Boston Celtics to play in the Olympics. Russell was one of the world’s top high jumpers and probably could have competed on the U.S. track team. He went on to win 11 NBA titles in his 13 year professional career and is considered the greatest defensive player in basketball history.