While Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were busy eliciting yawns from the general public, Kobe Bryant caused something of a national crisis this week when he said that his 2012 USA Basketball Team could beat the infamous 1992 Dream Team. With one seemingly innocuous statement, he stirred up a debate that pitted generations, families and future NBA Hall of Famers against one another in a grueling battle of hoops knowledge.
To fully understand this argument, one has to start at the beginning. Here was the match that lit the fuse, from a few days ago:
"Well, just from a basketball standpoint, they obviously have a lot more size than we do — you know, with [David] Robinson and [Patrick] Ewing and [Karl] Malone and those guys," Bryant said. "But they were also — some of those wing players — were also a lot older, at kind of the end of their careers. We have just a bunch of young racehorses, guys that are eager to compete.
"So I don't know. It'd be a tough one, but I think we'd pull it out."
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Michael Jordan, the biggest star of that 1992 team (not really, Charles Barkley was the biggest star of that team, but still) didn't like those comments. His reply:
"I absolutely laughed,” he said.
"For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done. I heard Kobe say we were not athletic. But we were smart. He said we were too old, but I was 29 and in the prime of my career. Pip (Scottie Pippen) was 26 or 27, (Charles) Barkley was 29, Patrick (Ewing) was 29 and Chris Mullin was 29. Almost everybody was still in their twenties."
But of course Jordan didn’t stop there.
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"I imagine he's trying to say it to legitimize his own Dream Team," he continued. "But to me it's not even a question what team is better.
"For him to make that comparison, it's one of those things where it creates conversation. I guess we'll never know. I'd like to think that we had 11 Hall of Famers on that team and whenever they get 11 Hall of Famers you call and ask me who had the better Dream Team. Remember now, they learned from us. We didn't learn from them."
Well, on Thursday afternoon, after being openly mocked by M.J., Kobe offered this retort:
"So what? He knows I'm a bad mother[expletive]," Bryant said. "I'm not really tripping."
"The fact is, they have [Patrick] Ewing and [David] Robinson and those big guys, it's tough. If you're asking me, 'Can you beat them one game?' Hell yeah, we can beat them in one game. You didn't ask me if we could beat them in a 7-game series. In one game, we can beat them. No question about it."
If it sounds like Kobe is backing down there in the final few lines the quote, it’s only because that’s exactly what he’s doing.
The best analysis of this debate came, though? Well, that came from Larry Bird.
Larry Bird on whether current Olympic team could beat Dream Team: "They probably could. I haven't played in 20 years and we're all old now."
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) July 12, 2012