Will U.S. Keep Its Grip On Olympic Basketball?

As we write, the United States is facing off with France in basketball, a sport in which the country has had a undeniable stronghold since the first time it was played as an Olympic sport in 1936.

Team U.S.A. has received a medal in all of the Olympics except Moscow, which the United States boycotted. And most of those medals have been gold: In 17 Olympics, the U.S. has struck gold in 13.

So it’s show time and as the AP writes in its preview of today’s game, France, led by Spurs star Tony Parker, could be just one of a tough schedule for the Americans. The AP reports:

“‘It’s a big test for us,’” U.S. forward Carmelo Anthony said, lacing up his sneakers Saturday before practice at East London University. “‘We’re going up against guys that we normally play on a night-to-night basis, and those countries have put them all together just like we have. And at the end of the day their main goal is to beat the United States.

“‘There’s going to be some good battles.’

“France will only be the first. This isn’t going to be some easy sightseeing stroll along the Thames for the American team before stepping onto the gold-medal stand. Spain, Argentina and Brazil are all talented enough to not only compete with the U.S., but potentially upset the world’s No. 1 team.”

Now, that’s they way the AP is setting up the game. If you ask LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, two giant NBA stars, what they think, you’ll likely get a less humble answer.

James and Bryant made waves on Friday when they arrived to their first press conference in London. Their grand statement: Team USA 2012 could beat the legendary Dream Team of 1992, which included Michael Jordan and 10 other Hall of Famers in its lineup.

“It would be a tough one, but I think we would pull it out. People who think we can’t beat that team for one game, they are crazy. To sit there and say we can’t, it’s ludicrous. We can beat them one time,” Bryant said according to USA Today.

Magic Johnson, who played on the ’92 Dream Team, told the Los Angeles Times, there’s no way this team could have beat them.

But, he admitted, if there was a time machine, Bryant and James would have definitely made the team.

“You have to say Kobe would definitely make it,” Johnson told the Times. “He’s unbelievable. We’re so lucky and so fortunate we get a chance to watch Kobe play every single night here in L.A. LeBron is the best all-around player in the game so he would definitely make our team. Kevin Durant would have a shot as well. You have two definitely in with Kobe and LeBron.”

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.