Kobe Bryant confident he’d win in all-US showdown
LONDON—Not only does Kobe Bryant think the US Olympic team of NBA stars could beat the 1992 Dream Team, but he says the 2008 gold medal squad he played upon would defeat the 2010 US world champions.
With five members of both the 2008 and 2010 squads on the American squad at London, that’s a challenge for Olympic bragging rights just waiting to happen.
“We have very competitive practices,” he said. “We’re ready to go.”
But, Bryant says, the members of the 2008 and 2010 teams have not pitted themselves against each other to see who would win.
“We would,” Bryan said.
It would be a great matchup — Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Deron Williams from the 2008 Olympics against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love and Andre Igoudala.
Toss in newcomer James Harden alongside NBA Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Durant and Westbrook and put 2012 NBA Draft top pick Anthony Davis with the old guard and such a US Olympic ‘civil war’ could probably make quite a show.
Bryant asked James if they would beat the 2010 players.
“What?” a startled James replied, stunned anyone could doubt the outcome.
“Right,” Bryant said. “That is the silliest question I have been asked.”
Don’t look for such an ego-driven showdown anytime soon, however.
“The players have been superb and get along great,” US coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They do have big egos because they are good but it doesn’t supersede the team ego.”
Durant says the camaraderie and bonding make bragging rights no big deal.
“In 2010 we had a lot of young guys who hadn’t played international basketball before and every game was different because we were learning all the time,” Durant said.
“But here everybody has been through it and we are just enjoying each other’s company.”
Bryan also dismissed the notion of who might win between the 2008 and 2012 US Olympic lineups, featuring younger Bryant and James against older versions.
“Nah, we can’t play against ourselves,” he said. “I’m older now and smarter, but (LeBron) is in his prime now and so is Carmelo.”
James could collect an NBA Most Valuable Player Award, his first NBA title with the Miami Heat and Olympic gold within a span of about three months.
“The opportunity to win both, it would be a great year,” James said. “It would have a really special meaning for me.”
Bryant and James also play down the idea of this year’s US Olympians being able to beat the 1992 original Dream Team.
“We’re here for the gold medal and to try to inspire other athletes like the Dream Team did with us,” Bryant said.
“It’s tough to compare. We like who we are. Those guys are living legends. We just hope that when our careers are done we will have quite a few Hall of Famers too.”
James says the notion was not a swipe at icons Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and the rest as much as it was an expression of confidence.
“As a competitor I would never say that we would lose to the ’92 Dream Team because I feel like we have a great team as well,” James said. “I would never not pick our team against any other team.
“People always make comparisons but it’s never going to happen. It’s impossible. Father Time doesn’t stop for any athlete.”
And, James, notes, no team is unbeatable, not even his.
“Any team can be beat,” he said. “If we don’t prepare the right way, if we don’t respect our opponents or try to cheat and cut corners, then we can lose.”