He may not have realized it at the time, but when Kobe Bryant decided it might be a good idea to go ahead and call out the greatest team in the history of sports last month, he was actually exposing a very rare omission in our analysis of the athletes we love so much: Closure.
Not that sports is completely devoid of closure, it should be noted, simply that when it appears, it’s usually in small doses. The question of who’s the fastest man in the history of the world, for example, definitely has an answer. Many others do not.
Sure, what Bryant literally said when a reporter dared to ask him who would win in a game between the 1992 “Dream Team” and this year’s USA Men’s Olympic basketball team was that although the contest would be tough, his team would be able to “pull it out.” But what the prolific 33-year-old must have meant to say is that because the universe we live in is so cruel it would never allow such a game to happen in the first place, the truth is we’ll never really know.
Or something like that.
Whatever he was thinking, Bryant’s comments are as intriguing as they are controversial and as we’ll see in the slides ahead, the annoying little “what if” scenarios they unknowingly referenced are in no way limited to Olympic athletes, either.
They’re a natural side effect of every sport in every era and until the world suddenly decides it’s not going to play these silly little games we’re all obsessed with anymore (see: Armageddon), they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Then again, for a talent like Bryant (or any other member of this year’s USA basketball squad, for that matter) whose career will forever be juxtaposed against the most revered legends in the history of his sport, this lack of closure may actually be a blessing in disguise.
Could the 2012 USA basketball team beat the ‘92 version? Sure they could!
How could anyone prove otherwise?