Nobody would ever question Kobe Bryant's amazing basketball ability, or his incredible competitive desire.
But as for his judgment and intelligence, well, let's just say there are times when it seems he's probably not the brightest crayon in the box.
Bryant ignited a verbal firestorm last week when he was asked how this year's U.S. Olympic men's basketball team might fare against that 1992 collection of stars affectionately known as the Dream Team.
And, Kobe being Kobe, he opened his mouth and stuck both feet in it by saying this year's squad could beat their '92 counterparts.
"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 a reporter in Las Vegas, where the 2012 team is busy working out in preparation for the London Summer Games which begin later this month.
"But they were also ... some of those wing players ... were also a lot older, at kind of the end of their careers," he continued. "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."
Sorry, but it seems that Kobe was, well ... dreaming.
Predictably, Bryant's comments brought some scoffing reaction from a couple of proud old pros, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan, who were members of that '92 squad that massacred its opponents by an average of almost 44 points a game — and never won by less than 32.
Barkley, always candid with his comments, told a Philadelphia radio show that the '92 Team would not only beat this year's squad, but that the Dream Teamers would win by double digits.
"Oh yeah, that's no disrespect," Barkley said. "I ain't got to badmouth them. But like I said, their point guards (Chris Paul and Deron Williams) weren't going to beat us. That's a no-brainer."
Indeed, the Dream Team's point guards were a couple of guys you've probably heard of, Magic Johnson and John Stockton, who was forced to miss most of the '92 Olympics after fracturing a bone in his leg earlier that year in the Tournament of the Americas leading up to the Summer Games.
But with guards like Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Clyde Drexler also on the roster, the Dream Team certainly found a way to distribute the ball without Stockton in its lineup.
Asked about Bryant's comments regarding some members of the Dream Team's age, Barkley rightfully blasted holes in Bryant's faulty math.
"I just started laughing," said Barkley, who was the Dream Team's leading scorer with an average of just 18 points per game, as this unprecedented assortment of superstars were content to spread the scoring around — something Bryant could take a lesson from.
"How old is Kobe Bryant? He's 34? And he's calling us old? At the time, we were only like 28, 29. Michael Jordan?and me were the same age. We were both 29."
Actually, only two members of the Dream Team — Magic (33) and Bird (35) — were more than 30 years old in 1992. Stockton and Drexler, both 30, were the next oldest, and Barkley, Jordan, Malone, Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing were all 29 that year. Robinson was 27 and Pippen just 26. Duke star Christian Laettner, the College Player of the Year, rounded out the '92 roster.
"Other than Kobe, LeBron (James) and Kevin Durant," Barkley said, "I don't think anybody else on that team makes our team."
Sir Charles is absolutely right. Those three current NBA stars are gonna get theirs against anybody. But really, with Tyson Chandler as your center, do you think this year's team would stand a chance against that '92 squad? I seriously doubt it.
As you might expect, so does Jordan.
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