There are times I suffer from delusion. Many times, I try to pass that delusion off on my friends as reality.
Unfortunately, the fact that the very large majority of my social circle remains in the immediate area has not allowed me to be successful in my venture. When I try to tell folks that I averaged 20 a game in high school basketball, they know that unless I’m talking about seconds, I’m lying. The same presence of my peer group also has stopped me from embellishing my success with those of the opposite sex, and saying I was even remotely successful would be an embellishment.
I did, however, once play a video game for more than 11 hours on one quarter back in junior high. I was even ranked number three in the world by one video game magazine and only stopped when Mother Nature forced me to stop. The establishment even had a party for me and I was on live radio (AM) and …
For me to be delusional is no big deal. My friends expect it. My family has accepted it. My therapist is trying to figure it out. What we have figured out is that I’m a mess so being delusional may be a lifetime issue I and those around me have to deal with.
That said, when you’re net worth is likely well north of $100 million, you play professional basketball, have five world championships to your credit, 14 all-star game appearances and you are easily one of the best players of your generation, there’s really no need to be delusional. Yet, in recent days one Kobe Bean Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers showed not only that he’s delusional, he showed that mandatory daily drug testing may be required – and not because his middle name is actually Bean.
You see, when posed a question recently as to whether the 2012 Olympic men’s basketball team could upend the 1992 Olympic team, affectionately known as the Dream Team, Bryant said that they could. Now, for those believing Bryant was placed in the unenviable position of being asked a question about his current team and forcing him to answer as such, think again. Bryant said “yes” and, for anyone that has paid attention to Bryant or the NBA, they know he was 100 percent serious.
Here’s the legitimate answer as to whether or not this year’s team could be the 1992 version: No. Wait a second, here’s the revised answer: Hell no.
Bryant’s departure from reality may have been fueled by ego, confidence, arrogance, vanity or any other synonym that fits. Or, it could be as simple as the possibility he wanted to show the 2012 Olympic team that he is the team leader. Or perhaps, he’s just delusional to an infinite degree.
Take it from someone who was once so addicted to the NBA that his brother still has hundreds of videotaped games in storage for him and today wouldn’t tape a game if required by law, the 1992 team would beat this team into submission. And that’s putting it mildly.
It should be noted that immediately after making his grandiose statement, Bryant and his American cohorts went out and annihilated the Dominican Republic. They followed that up with a massive 11-point win against Brazil.
Eleven points? Are you kidding me? Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and John Stockton could have beaten that team four on five or by picking someone from the crowd by 30. And they could have done it playing on their knees.
Outside of having a better 12th man – my apologies to both of the Christian Laettner fans out there – where can someone find me a position matchup that favors 2012’s team? Better yet, can someone find me an area where it’s even close? You can’t.
Outside of James Harden having a better beard than anyone could grow on the 1992 team, when you rank the players 1-through-12 on both teams the result is so clear that it makes me wonder why Kobe didn’t just defer the question. No offense to a guy like Tyson Chandler, or Harden, or Andre Igoudala, or even Russell Westbrook – all very good players – but these guys wouldn’t have sniffed the roster unless they were filling in for Laettner.
Even a hobbled Larry Bird would have put away the back brace for a few nights to school these “youngsters.” When it came to cutthroat winning, the only person ever to pass Bird in that category would have been Jordan.
Quite simply, the 1992 team had the greatest player ever in Jordan, the greatest clutch shooter in Larry Bird, the most dominant small-big man of all time in Charles Barkley, the greatest pure point guard of all-time in John Stockton, the greatest big point guard of all time in Magic Johnson, the greatest defender of all time in Jordan and perhaps the second best in Scottie Pippen. While Patrick Ewing and David Robinson don’t clip the top three centers of all time, they’re closer to the top than Tyson Chandler is to them in the all-time pantheon.
The 1992 team was filet mignon. The 2012 team is flank steak. Anyone with taste in the game can easily tell the difference.
So let’s end the debate there as to the “Contest of the Century.” The fact of the matter is very simple. It would be no contest. That's not delusion. That's reality.