My Analysis of the Dream Team v. the Self-Esteem Team, by Kobe Bryant
In 1992, the Dream Team, made up of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, John Stockton and Christian Laettner, took on the world at the Olympics in Barcelona. Not only did the team win gold, it defeated opponents by an average of 44 points.
Twenty years later, Team USA (the “Self-Esteem Team”) includes Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, and me, Kobe Bryant.
A few weeks ago, I told reporters that this year’s team could beat the Dream Team because it consists of a “bunch of racehorses, players who are incredibly athletic, while the Dream Team consisted mainly of players at the tail end of their careers.” Dream Team members responded, in part, by stating, “LOLOLOLOLOL.”
Instead of dismissing my comments out of hand, allow me to explain the details I considered in arriving at my conclusion. First, I compared the two squads based on major college and NBA achievements, arriving at a preliminary score. Then, I added and deducted points based on conduct on and off the court. Turns out, it came down to a tie-breaker, with the overtime win going to the Self-Esteem Team. Here’s how it all played out:
Round 1: Major College and NBA Achievements
Stats aren’t always an accurate indication of a player’s worth. However, they at least help get this conversation started. The numbers listed for the Dream Team are those the players had compiled by the 1992 Olympic games. The numbers in the parentheticals demonstrate what the team members ultimately accomplished. (Some of the numbers may be off. But they should be pretty accurate.) Based on these figures, many of the players weren’t necessarily at the tail end of their careers in Barcelona. While it’s true that Bird and Johnson were finishing up, Jordan and others were just getting started.
Round 1 goes to the Dream Team.
Round 2: Conduct On and Off the Court
As stated above, Round 2 focuses on conduct by the players on and off the court. Though the Dream Team didn’t get credit for stats post-1992 in Round 1, in this round, post-1992 activities are fair game. (It’s my prerogative.)
Michael Jordan won four post-Dream Team titles (+3), was obviously carried to those titles by Paxson, Kerr, Wennington, Longley and Kukoc (-3), is rude to men when they try to talk to him about his underwear in public (-1), can’t keep his tongue in his mouth and dunk at the same time (-1), needed Gatorade to overcome the flu (-1), had a gambling problem (allegedly) (-1), tried minor league baseball (-1), saved the Looney Tune characters from indentured servitude on Moron Mountain in Space Jam (+1, I really liked that movie), introduced a generation of underage girls to R. Kelly via Space Jam (-2), didn’t make his high school basketball team (-1), had to push off against Bryon Russell to win his sixth NBA Championship (-1), drafted Kwame Brown #1 (-1), gave a Hall of Fame acceptance speech that made Kanye West seem gracious and humble (-1), and owns the NBA’s worst team, the Charlotte Bobcats (-1). Total: -11.
Larry Bird won NBA Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year (+1), lost to me in the 2000 NBA Finals (-1), didn’t go into the stands to defend my man Metta World Peace during the Malice in the Palace (-1), reportedly made no effort to have a relationship with his daughter from his first marriage after initially refusing paternity and refusing to pay $40/week in child support (-1), has an illegitimate daughter who hooked up with Cam Newton (allegedly) (-1), has bangs (-1) and styles them (-1). Total: -5.
Earvin Magic Johnson contracted HIV through unprotected sex (-1), but has somehow managed to avoid full-blown AIDS (+1). His late night talk show, the Magic Hour, lasted only two months (not as long as MJ’s baseball career) (-1). He bought the LA Dodgers (+1), and he’s very close friends with Arsenio Hall (-2). Total: -2.
Though my man Sir Charles Barkley is hilarious as an NBA commentator (+5), he had no rings to my five (-1), has a tendency to get into bar fights in which he breaks noses and throws patrons through glass windows (-1), is the worst golfer of all time (-1), spit on a young girl during a game (-1), let some silly cartoon monsters steal his basketball talent in Space Jam (-1), has a gambling problem (-1), got a DUI (-1) and blamed it on the fact that he was rushing to pick up a woman for a sex act (-1), has struggled with his weight (-1), was recently named a spokesperson for Weight Watchers (-1), and is from the State of Alabama, but has never worn Bama bangs (-1). Total: -6.
David Robinson was in the Navy, but wasn’t a Navy SEAL (-1). He was on the bronze medal team in 1988 (-1). Dave won two NBA championships (+2), but rode my man Timmy D’s back the whole way (-2). I must admit, he had one of the all-time great nicknames, The Admiral (+1). However, he talked A LOT too much like Carlton Banks in the recent Dream Team documentary (-1). Total: -2.
Patrick Ewing offered a kidney to Alonzo Mourning (+1), but wasn’t as good of a match as Alonzo’s cousin (-1). Like Charles, Patrick had his basketball talent stolen in Space Jam (-1). Like Charles, Patrick has no rings (-1). He was born in Jamaica, not the USA (-1), and is horrible at bobsledding (-1). Patrick had a flat top that was theoretically in style, but did not achieve a respectable height (-1). He engaged in inappropriate conduct with strippers at the Gold Club in Atlanta (+1), but got caught (-1). Total: -5.
Bruce Jenner thinks Scottie Pippen’s nose job looks awesome (-1). Scottie called LeBron James the “greatest player of all time” (before recanting the statement) when we all know it’s me (-1). He won six NBA titles (+3), but, again, Paxson, Kerr, Wennington, Longley and Kukoc did all the work (-3). Though Scottie was named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players (+1), he’s currently playing in exhibition games in Manila with Dennis Rodman, Mitch Richmond and one of the Cliff Robinsons (I’m not sure which one) (-1). Total: -2.
Clyde “the Glide” Drexler won an NBA title (+1) thanks to my man Big Shot Rob Horry and MJ’s baseball dreams (-1). Clyde was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars after only four weeks (-1), and was eliminated as Head Coach of the Houston Cougars after going 19-39 over two years (-1). There’s also the fact that he rocked the pencil-thin mustache (-1). Total: -3.
Karl Malone was a prolific scorer, if scoring means making babies with lots of women, denying paternity, and reluctantly paying child support after paternity is proven (-1). A real high-point for Malone had to have been when he got a 13 year old pregnant when he was 20 (allegedly) (-1). Total: -2.
Chris Mullin wasn’t even a good enough executive to run the Warriors, and they’ll hire just about anybody to run that team (-1). Total: -1.
Jim Nantz once interviewed John Stockton in a hot tub (+2). Total: 2.
LeBron James helped the American garment industry and frame manufacturers by ordering record amounts of sweatband material and non-prescription glasses (+1), is trying to restore the relationship between his hairline and his forehead (+1), and is thoughtful enough to share his major decisions with the American viewing public (+1) and to take his time announcing them (+1). Bron let Italy and Argentina finish ahead of Team USA in 2004 so 2008 would be more exciting to watch (+1). He performs a cool talcum powder toss ritual before each game and lets other people clean it up for him (+1). Last, but not least, he is more than happy to share his mom with the league (+1). Total: 7.
I, Kobe Bryant, took Brandy Norwood to prom (+1) and was such a gentleman that I didn’t even video tape it (+1) (audio recordings don’t count). I was charged with sexual assault in Colorado (-1) but was acquitted (+1) after I sat out of the 2004 games to help my defense lawyers (+1). I buy my wife nice jewelry for no reason at all (+1). I gave myself the nickname The Black Mamba (+1), and I have the same name as a popular piece of meat (+1). Total: 6.
Carmelo Anthony thoughtfully punched a player in the face during the Knicks/Nuggets brawl so that opponents would have a better chance to win during his 15 game suspension (+1). He was recruited by Bernie Fine to Syracuse (-1), but did not accuse Bernie Fine of sexual misconduct (+1). And Carmelo frequently carries drugs for his friends (+1). Total: 2.
Kevin Durant wears #35 because his first coach died at age 35 (+1), has been in love if puppy love counts (+1), prefers Lil Wayne over Kanye West (+1), and is humble enough to admit that people would rather download Doodle Jump (don’t worry…I thought he said “doo doo jump,” too) than see him hit a game winning shot (+1). Total: 4.
Andre Iguodala. Gotta be honest, when they told me AI from Philly was going to be on the team, I thought we were getting the other guy #TheAnswer (-1). Total: -1.
Russell Westbrook’s Dad is somehow the same age as Russell (+1). Total: 1.
James Harden is growing his beard for locks of love (+1). Total: 1.
Chris Paul has managed to keep all of the ligaments in his knee in tact while playing for the Los Angeles Clippers (+1). He will also be competing in bowling at the Olympics (+1). Total: 2.
Kevin Love is related to a Beach Boy (+1) and has done for the chin-strap beard what Britney Spears did for the tramp-stamp (+1). Total: 2.
Tyson Chandler genuinely seems just really happy to be here and keeps calling Dwight Howard’s back doctor to thank him (+1). Total: 1.
Deron Williams finally put an end to the terrible career of Jerry Sloan (I can’t believe Utah didn’t get rid of that guy sooner) (+1) and showed what a team player he is by agreeing to stay and play with the Brooklyn Nets despite the fact that they only offered him $98 Million (+1). Total: 2.
The score is tied. Overtime.
Tie-Breaker: Christian Laettner v. Anthony Davis
In the end, it comes down to a comparison of the fresh-out-of-college phenoms: Anthony Davis v. Christian Laettner.
Anthony Davis took in spare teeth that otherwise would have been homeless (+1), formed a human headband that prevents sweat from dripping into his eyes (+1), is in the process of obtaining trademarks for “Fear the Brow” and “Raise the Brow” (+1), and got drafted by the Hornets, just like me, which means he’ll probably win many championships for the LA Lakers (+1). Total: 4.
Christian Laettner stepped on the chest of poor, unsuspecting Kentucky player Aminu Timberlake (no relation to Justin) (-1), currently owes $30 Million in unpaid loans (-1), was traded for Spud Webb in 1996 (-1), played in the NBA-D League in 2011 (-1) and once went around his Timberwolves locker room pointing at every one of his teammates and saying “Loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser” before pointing to himself and saying “Winner” (-25). Total: -29.
Game over. Self-Esteem Team wins.
The Self-Esteem Team’s path to Olympic glory started Sunday against France. (Don’t even get me started on Tony Parker.)