Michael Jordan soars above teammate Magic Johnson at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
CHARLOTTE -- Michael Jordan said there's no way Kobe Bryant and this year's USA Olympic basketball team could've beaten the 1992 Dream Team.
Jordan said Thursday that he laughed -- "I absolutely laughed" -- when hearing Bryant's comments that the squad training in Las Vegas could take Jordan and company.
Jordan said there's "no comparison" which team is better.
"For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done," Jordan said prior to playing in a celebrity golf tournament in Charlotte.
Jordan said the 1992 team, which included 11 future Hall of Famers and won its six Olympic games by an average of more than 43 points en route to capturing the gold medal, was a better overall team largely because of the experience it put on the floor.
"I heard Kobe say we were not athletic," said a smiling Jordan as he sat in a golf cart puffing on his cigar while waiting to tee off. "But we were smart. He said we were too old, but I was 29 and in the prime of my career. Pip [Scottie Pippen] was 26 or 27, (Charles] Barkley was 29, Patrick [Ewing] was 29, and Chris Mullin was 29. Almost everybody was still in their twenties."
Jordan's response came after Bryant told reporters in Las Vegas that this year's team could pull out a win against the Dream Team if they faced each other in their primes.
Bryant said this year's team has a bunch of racehorses, players who are incredibly athletic while the Dream Team consisted mainly of players at the tail end of their careers. The comments received immediate rebuttal from some members of the Dream Team, including Barkley.
Jordan joined in on Thursday.
"Most of us were in the prime of our careers, at a point where athleticism doesn't really matter," said Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. "You have to know how to play the game."
Jordan shook his head when asked why he thinks Bryant made the comments.
"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."
Jordan said Bryant is certainly entitled to his opinion -- even though he said it's just plain wrong.
"For him to make that comparison, it's one of those things where it creates conversation," Jordan said. "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."
Griffin aggravates knee at training camp
LAS VEGAS -- Blake Griffin has returned to Los Angeles for evaluation of a left knee injury, opening the door for Anthony Davis to be in uniform Thursday for the U.S. Olympic basketball team against his college coach.
Griffin went through a full practice Wednesday before reporting discomfort in the same knee that bothered him in the playoffs, USA Basketball said. He left Thursday and missed the Americans' exhibition opener against the Dominican Republic.
The Clippers, who just signed Griffin to a five-year, $95 million extension, said the All-Star forward will undergo an MRI and be examined by the Clippers' medical staff upon his arrival. He also will be examined Sunday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic and his status will be updated after that.
Davis returned to Las Vegas and was added to the roster for Thursday's game by USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo. The Dominicans are led by John Calipari, Davis' coach at national champion Kentucky.
Davis, the national player of the year and No. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA draft, is a team alternate after failing to make the 12-man roster. He had sprained his ankle in a workout with the New Orleans Hornets and wasn't able to scrimmage in the first two days of camp before the Americans picked their roster.