Team USA’s Earvin “Magic” Johnson whips the flag in ecstasy during the gold medal ceremony during the 1992 Summer Games. Crunch the numbers and the Dream Team would beat this year’s squad. Photo: Susan Ragan/AP
Kobe’s Hoop Dreaming When He Says His Team Could Beat Jordan’s
When Kobe Bryant said his 2012 U.S. Olympic basketball team could beat the Dream Team of 1992, responses spanned from the raised eyebrows of polite fans to the outright derision offered by several members of the ’92 squad.
“For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done,” Michael Jordan told the Associated Press.
Scottie Pippen, Jordan’s teammate both in Barcelona and Chicago, posited that the Dream Team would win a showdown by 25 points. And Charles Barkley? You know he didn’t hold back.
“Other than Kobe, LeBron and Kevin Durant, I don’t think anybody else on that team makes our team,” Sir Charles told a Philadelphia radio station.
The great thing about this kind of matchup is that it’s purely hypothetical, the sort of stuff that fuels bar arguments into the wee hours. Jordan or LeBron? Magic or Chris Paul? Sadly, there is no answer as to which team is truly better. Or is there?
“When I heard what Kobe said, and then saw the backlash from the Dream Team, it struck me that there’s an empirical way to figure this out,” said David Berri, a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. “We can use the numbers to get into what would probably have happened had these two teams met. This is not purely a matter of opinion.”