Kobe Bryant Names His All-Time Team USA Starting 5, Including Michael JordanMarch 18, 2019
Kobe Bryant has picked his all-time Team USA starting five, and he's keeping it old-school.
The future Hall of Famer named Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a conversation with FIBA.
Jordan, Johnson and Bird were each part of the Dream Team. Olajuwon was part of the United States' 1996 gold-medal team, while Abdul-Jabbar never appeared in a Summer Games because he boycotted the 1968 Games to protest racism against black Americans. He never got another chance to play in the Olympics because rules then barred professional athletes from competing.
Bryant was part of the gold medal-winning "Redeem Team" in 2008 and won a second gold in 2012 before stepping away from international competition. Kobe was the captain of the 2008 roster.
It's interesting that Bryant did not choose himself or any of his contemporaries for his all-time top five, particularly given Abdul-Jabbar's lack of Team USA involvement. Carmelo Anthony is the only three-time gold medalist in men's basketball and one of three four-time medalists overall.
Johnson and Bird were also at the tail end of their careers when they were part of the Dream Team. Johnson was retired at that point following his HIV diagnosis and played in only six of the team's eight games. Bird was 35 years old and struggling with back problems; he announced his retirement less than a month after winning the gold medal.
While few would bat an eye at the names included on the list, there have been a number of players more accomplished on the international stage than those greats. Anthony, David Robinson and LeBron James are the only three-time medalists in Team USA history, and Bryant himself was undefeated on the Olympics stage.
Never one to mince words, it's fair to wonder whether Kobe gave a "safe" answer here.