Hopefully, Kobe Bryant has finally cleared the air and fans can move on with watching the 2012 men’s Olympic basketball team just play basketball.

Bryant, a future Hall of Famer, sparked controversy shortly before the 2012 Summer Olympics began last week when he said the 2012 U.S. men’s basketball team could beat the 1992 Dream Team.

Members of the 1992 squad quickly scoffed at that idea, including Michael Jordan, one of the stars of the squad.

Jordan, who many fans consider to be the greatest basketball player of all time with six National Basketball Association titles, told Bryant through the media that the Dream Team was a much better team than this year’s squad and wouldn’t lose to this year’s team.

Jordan was probably right. After all, the 1992 team had 11 eventual Hall-of-Fame players including Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Chris Mullin, John Stockton and Karl Malone. That was arguably the greatest collection of basketball talent to play on one team, ever.

The Dream Team rolled to the gold medal, winning its games by an average of 43.8 points per game. It definitely seems that this year’s team of Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Anthony Davis and Tyson Chandler couldn’t beat that Dream Team. No team could.

But Bryant clarified his comments during the weekend, saying that he never said this year’s team was better than the 1992 squad. Bryant only said that this year’s squad could beat the 1992 team one time.

And we think he’s right. This year’s team is a great collection of talent and it probably would beat the 1992 team at least once. Bryant even admitted that the 2012 squad would lose to the Dream Team in a seven-game series.

People need to calm down and relax about the posturing, since the game would never happen. It’s a lot of fun for fans to pit one great team against another. It’s amusing to say this team was better than that team, or this player is better is better than that player, but the truth is, it’s all in good nature, and we will never know.

What’s important now is that the 2012 squad concentrates on playing basketball and winning another gold medal for the United States.

We hope that Bryant and James, who also said this year’s squad could beat the 1992 team, continue to have that pride. USA basketball is considered the best in the world, and the NBA players are the best players in the world.

It’s true that the international game is catching up to the Americans, and the competition is probably greater than it was in 1992 when teams were more interested in taking photos with the NBA stars than playing them.

Teams were in awe of that team, and they should’ve been. That awe doesn’t exist for this year’s team, especially since the recent American squads have proven they could be beaten ”“ and beaten often.

In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the U.S. team didn’t win the gold medal, finishing third with three losses. In 2002, the U.S. team finished sixth in the World Championships.

This year’s squad needs to use its confidence and swagger. It needs to bring back that feeling of superiority in order to win a gold medal. Gone are the days where USA basketball can just roll out a team of NBA talent and expect to win as it did in the 1996 and 2000 games. It needs its stars to play like stars.

So, the 2012 team probably couldn’t beat the 1992 squad in seven games, but as Bryant said, it could beat them at least once, and that’s all they need to know to shoot themselves toward gold this year.

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Today’s editorial was written by Sports Editor Al Edwards representing the majority opinion of the Journal Tribune Editorial Board. Questions? Comments? Contact Managing Editor Kristen Schulze Muszynski by calling 282-1535, Ext. 322, or via email at [email protected].