Your Black World: Kobe Bryant vs. Magic Johnson

August 25, 2008



From the comfort of my couch I send a shout-out to Alex Wolff, my distinguished Sports Illustrated colleague who has been covering the Redeem Team. Alex’s assignment was easier than mine was in 2004 (when covering Team Bad Vibe in Athens was about as pleasurable as getting a root canal) but more difficult than the task in 1992, when chronicling the Dream Team consisted mainly of ferreting out Charles Barkley‘s post-midnight agenda on Barcelona’s famed Las Ramblas.

Like the veteran knuckleballer, I’ve been summoned from the bullpen to perform the obvious — compare the Redeem Team to the Dream Team. Not in terms of global popularity (no matter how many times you’ve seen Kobe Bryant mobbed by Chinese fans, it doesn’t compare to the Elvis-is-in-the-building treatment extended to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, et al.). And not in terms of public comportment during the Games (the ’08 team has earned points by showing up at some athletic events, unlike the Dreamers, who, Barkley excepted, mostly stayed in and bonded at their luxury hotel). We’re talking strictly basketball.


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