I’m sure several of you heard that Kobe Bryant got himself into a little hot water during an interview yesterday. Bryant was practicing for a Team USA exhibition game when somehow the Dream Team came up in conversation. Kobe, who is my age, speculated as to what it might be like if his 2012 Olympic squad were pitted up against the 1992 Dream Team. Bryant envisioned a strategy in which he would cover Michael Jordan and LeBron James would defend Magic Johnson. Then, Kobe crossed an inexcusable line by stating that this year’s Olympic team would have a chance to beat the Dream Team.
Although Kobe and I are the same age, Big Ern’s memory is apparently superior. While Bryant imagined a scheme to disrupt the offensive chemistry of Jordan and Magic, he seems to have forgotten the other all-time NBA weapons from that Barcelona team. When Kobe reads this post, I urge him to reflect upon the picture above. Who is going to stop John Stockton and Karl Malone? What about Patrick Ewing and David Robinson under the basket? In truth, Kobe, I do think that Kevin Durant could give Scottie Pippen some headaches on both sides of the floor. However, Charles Barkley (a Dream Teamer who I haven’t even mentioned yet) said yesterday that he thinks that Durant, LeBron, and Kobe himself would be the only members of this year’s Olympic team to even MAKE a roster spot on the Dream Team! With Dwayne Wade sidelined due to a minor injury and therefore not included in this discussion, I tend to agree with Sir Charles.
Other Dream Teamers that haven’t been mentioned yet include Larry “Legend” Bird, Clyde “The Glide” Drexler (one of the best players on that team), and Chris Mullin (one of the greatest college basketball players in history from former Big East power St. John’s). Speaking of college players, Michael Jordan recently discussed the role of Dream Teamer, Christian Laettner in NBA TV’s 90-minute special, The Dream Team (airing all summer randomly on NBA TV and highly recommended by Big Ern). Jordan explained that practices leading up to the Barcelona Games were so competitive that Laettner often was not invited to participate in the pick-up games by their two captains (Jordan himself and Magic) for fear that the 1992 NCAA Player of the Year from Duke might cost the team a scrimmage win! Laettner, is the ONLY member of the Dream Team that is not in the NBA Hall of Fame.
Just to use more than numbers (20 years) to illustrate just how long ago the Dream Team stormed the Olympic courts in Barcelona, I give you two images from the perspective of another sport – baseball:
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper (both rookie All-Stars) are two of the best players in baseball right now. Trout leads the AL in not only batting average (over .340), but also in stolen bases with 26. On Tuesday night, Harper became the youngest player EVER to start an All-Star Game. Trout and Harper (at 20 and 19 years-old, respectively) were not yet born when the Dream Team won the Gold back in 1992. I know, Kobe, it’s fun to conjure up dream matchups in your head between the present and past, but as another LA Lakers 5-time NBA Champion, Magic Johnson succinctly reminds us all: “There’s only one Dream Team, baby!”