Kobe Bryant has reopened the Dream Team debate. After Kobe started a media fire by saying that the 2012 Dream Team could beat the 1992 one, Kobe has continued to support his previous statements.
While in Barcelona with the 2012 Dream Team, in addition to giving media a small history lesson on the importance of the city in basketball history, Kobe Bryant told reporters:
“People who think we can’t beat that team for one game, they’re crazy,” Bryant said. “To sit there and say we can’t, it’s ludicrous.”
When reporters asked Kobe if he would tell Michael Jordan that to his face, Bryant followed up by saying:
“He knows. They got beaten by a college select team once. Doesn’t mean we’re a better team than them, but s—, we can beat them one time.”
When Jordan was asked about the Kobe comments he said that there was “No comparison.”
But wait, earlier this year, Roman Lazenby, a writer of a Michael Jordan book said:
“Kobe’s ultimate competition is MJ. That’s why MJ watches him. MJ made people think what he was doing wasn’t human. Ditto the Kobester.”
“I never said Kobe was better than MJ. MJ just told me Kobe’s the only one to have done the work, to deserve comparison.”
MJ and Lazenby are right that Kobe deserves the comparison, even if MJ no longer wants to admit it.
MJ was the first, he was the perfect role model, he was flashier and he changed the culture of the game. This is where the biggest differences are between Kobe and MJ. Kobe isn’t the icon MJ is.
At some point Jordan is going to be dethroned. It might not be Kobe and it might not be LeBron but Jordan’s reign will one day end. Kobe has the right to try to be the one that takes MJ’s crown. That’s what this is all about.
Chris Paul said it best to ESPN:
“In all honestly, what’s he supposed to say if you guys ask him?” Team USA point guard Chris Paul offered. “Tell me what everybody would have said if Kobe said, ‘We can’t beat ’em.’
“We respect that team, believe me. I was 7 at the time. Even though I don’t remember all the games, I used to collect all the [basketball] cards. But let me tell you something: As long as you know me, as long as I’m playing this game, you’ll never hear me say that I think any man can beat me.”
For Kobe, it’s not about the team. It’s about a man.