"For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done," Jordan, who also said he "absolutely laughed" when he heard Bryant's comments, said in published reports. "I heard Kobe say we were not athletic. But we were smart. He said we were too old, but I was 29 and in the prime of my career. … Almost everybody was still in their twenties.
"I imagine he's trying to say it to legitimize his own Dream Team," Jordan said. "But to me it's not even a question what team is better. For him to make that comparison, it's one of those things where it creates conversation. I guess we'll never know. I'd like to think that we had 11 Hall of Famers on that team, and whenever they get 11 Hall of Famers, you call and ask me who had the better Dream Team. Remember now, they learned from us. We didn't learn from them."
Not that I always enjoy everything that comes out of Jordan's mouth — his Hall of Fame acceptance speech smacked of "I'm still the greatest of all time" and was not the least bit gracious — but this time I've gotta say well said, MJ, well said.
Actually, the 2012 U.S. team isn't nearly as strong as it could be because it's missing some of the game's top players — Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin — who have been sidelined by injuries.
And to think that a squad featuring the likes of Paul, Williams, Chandler, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Andre Iguodola and Anthony Davis would be able to compete against Jordan, Pippen, Barkley, Malone, Robinson, Ewing, Mullin, Drexler and Co., all in their prime — even with Magic retired due to contracting the AIDS virus, Bird at the end of his career with a bad back and Stockton hobbled by a broken leg — is downright ludicrous.
Asked about it again later in the week, Bryant backed off a bit on his original comments.
"It's tough," he said. "If you're asking me, 'Can you beat them one game?' Hell, yeah, we can beat them one game.
"You didn't ask me if we could beat them in a seven-game series. In one game, we can beat them. No question about it." And, you know what? He's right. But only if you can follow the shrewd logic of none other than Bird.
"They probably could," he tweeted. "I haven't played in 20 years and we're all old now."
Yep, there you have it, the 2012 team would definitely beat the Dream Team if they played today — but only because the Hall of Fame members of that '92 squad are all now in their late-40s and early 50s. And just a little past their prime.
Otherwise, it's no contest.
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