Give Kobe Bryant credit. The guy doesn’t lack confidence — and he and the rest of the U.S. men’s basketball team will carry plety of it to London for the Olympics.
Asked how the 2012 Olympic roster would match up with the original 1992 “Dream Team,” Bryant made a bold statement.
“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 told Yahoo Sports at Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas earlier this week. “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.”
Michael Jordan’s take on that? Dream on.
“I absolutely laughed,” Jordan told the Associated Press when asked how he responded to Bryant’s assertion.
“For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done.”
Of course, Jordan has never had a hubris deficiency either. And his response before a celebrity golf tournament in Charlotte shows he hasn’t lost anything in that department.
“Most of us were in the prime of our careers, at a point where athleticisim doesn’t really matter. You have to know how to play the game, ” said Jordan, who was quick to note he was 29 at the 1992 Olympics. At 33, Bryant is the oldest player on the 2012 team.
Charles Barkley echoed Jordan’s sentiments Thursday on “The Mike Missanelli Show” on Philadelphia’s 97.5 The Fantastic Philadelphia.
“How old is Kobe Bryant? He’s 34? And he’s calling us old?” Barkley said, as reported by ESPN.com. “At the time, we were only like 28, 29. Michael Jordan and me were the same age.... Other than Kobe, LeBron and Kevin Durant, I don’t think anybody else on that team makes our team.”
Despite a roster loaded with all-stars and elite talent, the guard-heavy 2012 team must overcome a deficiency in the paint, where the defense-first Tyson Chandler is their lone center.
Head coach Mike Krzyzweski said Monday that he hopes the team’s versatility on the perimeter will make up for its lack of size.
“It’s a more versatile team than 2008,” he said. “Now does that translate into being better? Although we don’t have the center, that team didn’t have Durant or (Russell) Westbrook. So it’s a different team and we’ll see if it becomes better, but it can be. It could be.”
The 2008 team won gold in Beijing, and the 2012 team is expected to do the same. Anything else would be a massive disappointment for a team that features 10 all-stars, including NBA MVP LeBron James and Durant, the league’s 2012 scoring champion.
But as far as Jordan is concerned, this team still has much to prove.
“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.”