On Sunday the US Men’s Olympic hoops team will begin their quest for global supremacy. With Team USA as the odds-on favorites the there isn’t nearly as much drama as a regular season NBA game. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything but pride at stake.
For Kobe Bryant this is his last chance to earn another gold medal. More importantly it’s his last opportunity to pull even with Michael Jordan in medal count.
His Airness has two gold medals hanging among the many collectibles he’s acquired during his storied hoops career. Bryant boasts of just one.
As we all know it was Kobe who dared to pull on Superman’s cape by boldly going after MJ from the moment he arrived in the NBA. Everything about Bryant’s game from his style of play on down to his competitive edge has been patterned after Jordan. While Kobe has gone about his business on his terms there’s no doubt he’s gunning for Jordan.
When the US Olympic team first gathered Bryant made waves by claiming his squad could beat MJ’s Dream Team that stole the show during the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Kobe has since clarified his statement. He knows the ’92 team is better but you’ll never hear Bryant acknowledge his team will be beaten by anyone no matter how many Hall of Famers comprise the opponents roster.
You’ll also never see Bryant in another Olympics. At this stage in his career every game is one step closer to his last. With his 34th birthday approaching KB24 is already contemplating his retirement which could be coming in the next two years.
With his career clock ticking louder by the minute Bryant knows there’s only so much sand left in the hourglass when it comes to catching Jordan. Bryant can only equal Jordan’s medal count. There’s just no way Bryant will be back in Red, White and Blue for the next Olympics four years from now.
However there is one area in which Bryant can surpass Jordan. That would be NBA titles. Of course that’s an entirely different topic. One we’ll be discussing plenty after the 2012 Games are behind us.