President Obama weighed in Monday on the great national debate: Who is better — the 1992 “Dream Team” or the current U.S. men’s Olympic basketball squad?
“This is a generational thing. I was around in ‘92. I was a Bulls fan, so I’ve got to go with original Dream Team,” Obama said during an ESPN television interview at halftime of the U.S.-Brazil men’s exhibition game at Verizon Center.
Obama, who attended the men’s and women’s games with first lady Michelle Obama, said that although he favors the ‘92 team that featured Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, this year’s group, led by LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, has “unbelievable talent.”
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t bring home the gold,” Obama said. The Olympics start later this month in London. Bryant, he added, “is such a competitor, so we can expect him to do a little trash talking.”
The crowd did a bit of trash talking, too, booing the first couple after the first lady playfully rebuffed Obama’s advances when they were featured on the “Kiss Cam” on Verizon Center’s overhead scoreboard.
The Obamas did share a couple of public kisses in the second half, the first of which elicited some cheers and chants of “four more years!” (Notably, the White House press pool, which had been moved from the arena to vans before the second kiss, was led back into the arena in time to witness the smooch, according to a pool report.)
Obama, a bona fide hoops fan, attended an NCAA tournament game in March with British Prime Minister David Cameron in tow. He raised money at the Orlando home of NBA star Vince Carter and waxed philosophic about Jeremy Lin’s breakout season in New York.
As he did at the NCAA game, Obama talked about the thrill of coaching daughter Sasha’s youth team — the better to continue his appeal to women voters.
“I get more excited than I ever got when I was playing,” the president said. “To see them improve and start seeing them play as a team gives you great satisfaction.”
Obama noted that he spoke with the U.S. women’s team Monday and added that they will be “as dominant, if not more dominant” than the men.
Asked about the pickup game he had at the White House for his 49th birthday party two years ago, Obama said his team finished second in a round of games that featured three professional players and two amateurs on each team.
Next month, when he turns 51, Obama will shelve the basketball — at least for a day. Instead, he is scheduled to hold a campaign fundraiser in Chicago to celebrate.