The Dream Team, greatest of all time, right … well, not at one position. Take a guess what college player didn’t belong.
If there is one blemish on the Dream Team roster — you know the greatest basketball team ever assembled — it was the college player selected. Christian Laettner, that was nice of USA basketball to bring him along for the ride, but it was obvious he didn’t belong.
Shaquille O’Neal should have been the college representative. When you compare professional careers it’s unfair. Who would have known that Shaq would have become one of the best players of all time while the other guy let the Minnesota Timberwolves suck until Kevin Garnett got there?
Actually, Laettner had decent numbers early in his career. He didn’t change his franchise into a contender nor did he take three different teams to the NBA Finals. And he’s not in the Hall of Fame as an individual player. To be fair, Shaq isn’t either. Then again, the Diesel barely retired at the end of the 2011 season.
Sure, Laettner was a stud at white collar Duke, in which he played in the Final Four every year he suited up. But that was college, not the Dream Team. Honestly, would Laettner make those other guys think he belonged just by stepping on the court? Was Charles Barkley and Karl Malone concerned that Laettner would get the best of them in practice?
The alternative, Shaq, averaged 24.1 points and 14 rebounds per game his junior year at LSU. He also had 157 blocks in 30 games (that’s more than five blocks per game). Shaq would command respect from David Robinson and Patrick Ewing.
In fact, this whole debate about the current Team USA against the original Dream Team has no merit. The 2012 squad doesn’t have the bigs to run with the ’92 team. Dream Team II did, in fact, based on the strength of Shaq and Hakeem Olajuwon, they would have a very good shot of beating Version 1.
Enjoy your “earned spot” on the Dream Team, Laettner. Your NBA career, although decent at times, proved that you didn’t belong on the ’92 roster.
Check out this highlight package of Shaq’s time at LSU (some highlights in which he straight up bodies Laettner). Christian Laettner was no Shaq, that’s for sure.