Kobe: We're Better Than The Dream Team
The Olympics hold a special significance to every athlete in attendance.
The Summer Games offer a competitor the chance to prove that they are the strongest, the fastest or the most technically gifted in their respective event, not just in their nation but amongst the world’s best.
However, for the USA men’s basketball team, the London 2012 Olympics hold a very unique property.
This year’s edition of the Games marks the 20th anniversary of the US ‘Dream Team’ that took gold away from Barcelona in 1992 and stole the planet’s hearts in the process, helping to brand basketball as the global phenomenon that it is today.
No matter the importance of that occasion however, Kobe Bryant, a US stalwart and one of the leaders in the class of 2012, says that the USA’s current batch of stars are even better.
1992 saw greats such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson step onto the world-stage and prove that the US were a cut above the rest when it came to the sport.
Bryant is adamant that the new kids on the block will beat that legendary roster and believes that the names of Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are the new ones to remember.
The LA Laker veteran has been around the block, to say the least.
A five-time NBA champion, Bryant recently spoke on his opposition to the NBA’s plans to make basketball an Under-23 event at the Olympics.
Never one to shy away from the limelight, the 33-year-old is keen to break new ground in defending the Olympic gold medal won at Beijing 2008.
"It would be a tough one but I think we would pull it out. People who think we can't beat that team for one game, they are crazy. To sit there and say we can't, it's ludicrous. We can beat them one time,” Bryant said on the matter.
A big concern for the US team at this year’s Olympics has been the issue of height.
A series of 2012 injuries has left the roster without numerous ‘big-men’ but the Stars and Stripes proved that size isn’t everything earlier this week when they beat a taller Spain side 100-78 in their final warm-up game before the beginning of the Games.
One man with a very different view to Bryant is Dream Team star and NBA Hall of Famer, Michael Jordan.
Jordan, who was the supposed leader of the class of ’92, hit back at Bryant’s comments, saying: "I imagine he's saying it to legitimize his own Dream Team. To me it's not even a question which team is better. They learned from us. We didn't learn from them."