Olympic Viewing: Men’s basketball finale

  • Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2012 12:01 a.m.

You’ll be happy to know this, Magic, Michael and Larry. Doug Collins is on your side.

Collins, finishing up his fourth year as NBC’s Olympic basketball analyst, said he believes the U.S. Dream Team from the 1992 Barcelona Games would beat the current United States team in a hypothetical matchup. The 1992 team’s front line is too imposing, he said.

The more important matter at hand for the U.S. team is Sunday’s gold-medal game against Spain. Spain has a solid front line, too, but will succeed or fail on the strength of its guard play, Collins said.

The Americans are “close to where they want to be, but all of the pressure is on them to win the gold medal,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s going to be a failure for them. They know that. It’s gold or bust for them.”

Collins is happy for a day off between games because his day job keeps him pretty busy. The current Philadelphia 76ers head coach has watched from London as the 76ers participated in a four-team megadeal that landed Andrew Bynum from the L.A. Lakers while sending Andre Iguodala to Denver.

Michael Jordan once said that participating on the Dream Team helped him learn some weaknesses of his All-Star teammates, things that he could exploit in later games. Collins said he knows the current players pretty well. The advantage to his analyst’s job comes in getting to know some of the international players, and evaluate whether they could play in the NBA.

Being a current coach also brings him fresh material for his analyst’s role.

“A big part of the Olympics is being able to story tell and to make it personal,” he said, “so you know these guys by more than just their numbers.”

The strength of the U.S. team this year is its versatility, with so many players able to operate all over the court. The team has proven to be explosive offensively when the 3-point shots are falling. Collins said he always believed the team’s supposed weakness in the front court was overstated since the U.S. has steadily outrebounded foes.

London is also providing some family time for Collins, whose son Chris is an assistant with the U.S. team and helps scout opponents and run practice drills.

WALKING TALL: One of the joys of the Olympics — and of NBC Sports’ daytime coverage — is getting absorbed in an exotic sport you would have no other reason to watch. Saturday’s unexpected pleasure was the women’s 20-kilometer race walk, and seeing if Russian Olga Kaniskina could keep a big lead against younger countrywoman Elena Lashmanova. She couldn’t, and her small body was filled with mental and physical pain at the end.

UNHAPPY SILVER: Tough to remember a group of people looking so miserable receiving flowers as Brazil’s silver-medal soccer team, following the surprising loss to Mexico. The players made American gymnast McKayla Maroney look happy.

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