Basketball: Barkley defends 'Dream Team'

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The Independent Online
Charles Barkley leapt to the defence of the "Dream Team" concept on Wednesday despite another uninspiring performance which raised more questions about its long-term appeal.

The United States ran out comfortable 104-82 winners over Lithuania in front of a subdued crowd in the Georgia Dome - which had witnessed scenes of hysteria the previous night as the Americans clinched the women's gymnastics team gold. The contrast was not lost on Barkley and his team-mates, who appear increasingly frustrated with the lack of support from those among the media who feel the current "Dream Team" do not compare with the 1992 version.

"College kids can't win the gold medal any more. The days when you could go out and beat teams by 40, 50 or 60 points are gone," said Barkley, who top-scored with 16 points. "In 1992 we were kind of like a freak show... everyone was out on the court with us. I reckon we're still 30 points better than most of these teams, but the other countries have improved."

Barkley even suggested it might be time to drop the "Dream Team" tag in favour of Team USA, but he remains convinced the crowds will continue to flock to see the NBA's top stars playing together.