Getting a firsthand look at the 2012 U.S. Olympic basketball team at an exhibition game against Brazil, President Obama tonight praised the London-bound squad, but shot down claims that they are better than the 1992 Dream Team.
“This is a generational thing. I was around in ’92. I was a Bulls fan. So I have to go with the original Dream Team,” the basketball-fan-in-chief told ESPN at halftime.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant ruffled some feathers last week when he said the 2012 team could beat the 1992 Dream Team, which included superstars Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing. Among the players on the 2012 team are Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.
“This is a great team, unbelievable talent. Kobe is a competitor, so you expect him to do a little trash talking whenever the opportunity arises,” Obama quipped.
The president, however, is still confident this year’s team can go all the way.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t bring home the Gold. We just have to stay focused,” he said. “One thing I’m happy about is to see how hard everybody is playing. You really get a sense of how proud they are to represent the United States.”
The president, dressed in jeans, a white T-shirt, and a navy blue zip-up, entered the Verizon Center tonight to cheers and applause, taking a seat next to Vice President Joe Biden and former aide, and former Duke basketball captain, Reggie Love.
After the first quarter, the president was joined by his wife and family. The president and Michelle Obama were quickly featured on the “kiss cam.” Obama, who sat with his arm around his wife, appeared not to notice.
Michelle Obama is leading the U.S. Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London later this month.
The president also stopped by to congratulate the U.S. women’s basketball team after their win over Brazil earlier tonight.
“You are great representatives of the nation,” he told them, according to pool reports. “We could not be prouder.”
The president later told ESPN that the women’s team is going to be “as dominant, if not more dominant, I think in the Olympics,” calling them “great role models for my daughters.”
The president, an avid basketball fan, coaches his daughter’s team.
“Your hearts out there on the floor with them,” he told ESPN. “I get more excited than I ever got when I was actually playing watching Sasha or Malia play. They are really enjoying it and to see them improve and start playing as a team is always a great satisfaction.”
UPDATE: The kiss cam later focused on the Obamas again. This time, the president leaned in and smooched his wife on the lips as the crowd cheered them on.