Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers' five-time NBA champion, discombobulated the sports world this week when he declared that his Olympic basketball squad could beat 1992's Dream Team, the gold-medal-winning squad which many fans consider the most singularly talented group of athletes ever assembled. "We have just a bunch of young race horses, you know, guys that are eager to compete," said Bryant, whose Team USA teammates include Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and LeBron James. "It would be a tough one, but I think we'd pull it out." Original Dream Teamers dismissed the idea: Charles Barkley called it preposterous, while Michael Jordan said he "absolutely laughed." Could this year's team outplay Jordan's mighty '92 squad?
Absolutely not: Kobe's comments are ridiculous "braggadocio," says Ben Golliver at CBS Sports. Only three players on this year's team could even make the '92 roster: Bryant, Durant, and James. Kobe's squad "might have been able to give the Dream Team a real game" at full strength, but several stars — Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, and Derrick Rose — are injured and not even on the team. The remaining crew simply couldn't cut it against Jordan, Barkley, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Scottie Pippen. You're right to laugh, MJ.
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Kobe's right. Today's team is talented enough to win: "Give me the 2012 team," says Greg Cote at the Miami Herald. Magic had "lost most of his mojo" by '92, and Bird was beset by back problems that would soon end his career. Sure, the Dream Team was taller than the 2012 squad, and had the best player on either team in Jordan. But the 2012 lineup is "younger, faster, more athletic, and has at least three players — LeBron, Kobe, and Durant — who are better than anyone but Jordan was in '92." Plus, today's freakishly gifted athletes are just "generally better" than pros were 20 years ago. They would prevail.
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Either way, it would be close: In truth, these squads are pretty "evenly matched," says Adi Joseph at USA Today. The Dream Team had more star power, but the 2012 version is "built more like a team." Plus, Paul would run circles around Magic (who, lest we forget, wasn't that great a defender), Bryant and Jordan would battle it out somewhat evenly, and none of the old guys would be able to guard LeBron or Durant. The Dream Team would "lay it all on the line" in a single game, and would probably win. But in a best-of-seven series? "We might have to give the advantage to the younger team."
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