(Credit: 2K Sports)Kobe Bryant stirred the pot a few weeks back when he declared that this year's U.S. Men's National Basketball squad would have beaten the legendary 1992 Dream Team. Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Larry Bird laughed it off, but the debate took on a life of its own as media pundits went wild trying to sort out which team would actually win.
Gamers, however, will have a chance to figure it out for themselves in the upcoming NBA 2K13. The basketball sim will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the '92 team by bringing them — and the gold-wining 2012 squad — into the game.
Most of them, at least. Despite appearing in the last two NBA 2K games as a member of classic Bulls teams, Scottie Pippen won't appear in the new game due to some sort of licensing disagreement. Bad news for gamers, but great news for fans of Dream Team benchwarmer Christian Laettner, who will finally have a shot at some decent playing time.
"The fantasy matchup between the legendary 1992 'Dream Team' and the 2012 USA Men's national team has become one of the greatest sports debates of our time," said NBA 2K13 executive producer Jay-Z (yes, THAT Jay-Z). "Like everybody, I can't wait to see how our squad stacks up against the 1992 team in NBA 2K13."
The 1992 team is considered by many to be the single greatest sports team ever assembled, boasting 11 future Hall of Famers (no offense, Laettner) and enough sheer roundball firepower to blow out opponents by an average of 44 points en route to the gold medal at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. By comparison, the 2012 squad beat the competition by an average of 32 points and was taken to the brink by a solid Spanish team in the gold medal round.
But the stiffer challenge the 2012 team faced was largely a result of the globalization of basketball left in the wake of the star-studded 1992 squad. Seven NBA players were on Spain's roster for the London Olympics, compared to only two NBA players on silver medalist Croatia's 1992 team.
Still, at least one Dream Team member believes the difference between the two teams isn't what they can do with the ball, but what they can do without it.
"One thing 2012 lacked was size," Michael Jordan told USA Today. ""We were much more solid defensively. They only had one shot blocker."
So will the video game version settle anything? No way, says His Airness.
"I think it's going to start more arguments than it ends," he went on to tell reporters. "I don't think it's ever going to end because we'll never know."
At least we'll have fun trying, though. NBA 2K13 bounces to the Xbox 360 and PS3 on October 2.