NBA: Jordan scoffs at notion 2012 squad is better than Dream Team
By Steve Reed
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 told The Associated Press 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 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.
He wasn’t backing away from how he felt after the U.S. beat the Dominican Republic 113-59 on Thursday night in its exhibition opener, and wasn’t bothered by Jordan’s response.
“I’m not really tripping,” Bryant said. “The fact is they’ve got (Patrick) Ewing and (David) Robinson, those big guys. I mean it’s tough. But if you’re asking me if we can 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. One game, we could get them, no question about it.”
Bryant’s earlier comments received immediate and sharp 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.”
CHARLOTTE — The Bobcats announced Friday they’ve signed second-round draft pick Jeffrey Taylor.
The 6-foot-7 small forward from Vanderbilt was the 31st overall pick in this year’s NBA draft.
• DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks won the bidding Friday to obtain two-time All-Star forward Elton Brand off waivers, the latest in a series of moves to build their roster after a frustrating start in free agency.
Brand was available after the Philadelphia 76ers this week used the one-time amnesty provision in the new CBA to let him go and not have the $18.1 million he is owed in the final season of his five-year deal count against their salary cap.
Brand was the top overall pick out of Duke in the 1999 draft by Chicago and has played 860 career games with the Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia. He was an All-Star in 2002 and 2006.
His career averages are 18.3 points and 9.4 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field.
• PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract with former No. 1 overall draft pick Kwame Brown.
Brown will be reunited with Sixers coach Doug Collins. Collins was Brown’s first coach in Washington in 2001. Brown has averaged 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds over an 11-year career.
• HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets waived forward Luis Scola on Friday, clearing more salary space with a major move in mind.
A fan favorite in Houston, the 6-foot-9 Scola averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in five seasons with the Rockets. Scola grabbed 2,984 rebounds with the Rockets to rank ninth on the team’s career list.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers have re-signed free agents Roy Hibbert and George Hill, two key members of their rebuilding project.
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers have formally signed free agent power forward J.J. Hickson, British forward Joel Freeland and draft picks Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard.
Hickson, a former N.C. State star, played in 19 games for Portland, averaging 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds. He was signed to a 1-year deal.