The 2012 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team is already making headlines, but most of it has come from their talk off the court instead of their play on it.
Two weeks before the start of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, 2008 gold medal winner Kobe Bryant sparked a massive debate by comparing the current team to the 1992 Dream Team.
Bryant told reporters last week that the current Olympic team, which defeated the Dominican Republic 113-59 in their first pre-Olympic tune-up last night, could defeat the 1992 Dream Team, had the two teams been able to play in their prime.
That 1992 team, of course, consisted of 11 eventual Hall of Famers, headlined by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley.
David Robinson, Chris Mullin, John Stockton, Karl Malone and Larry Bird were also future Hall of Famers on the roster. Christian Laettner of Duke was the lone amateur on the team, which defeated their opponents by an average margin of more than 51 points.
Bryant's comments elicited a response from Jordan, who told Associated Press reporters Thursday that there was "no comparison" between the two teams, and that he would "like to think that we had 11 Hall of Famers on that team, and whenever they get 11 Hall of Famers you call and ask me who had the better Dream Team."
So if that's what Jordan needs to begin the discussion, that 11 players from the 2012 team one day be elected to the Hall of Fame, the question would then become: How close can the 2012 team get to 11 Hall of Famers?
At this point in their careers, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James can be considered surefire Hall of Famers. James could not retire today and be a lock for Springfield like Bryant could, but it's a safe assumption that James' career path eventually will lead him there.
And while Kevin Durant is just 23 years old, the three-time reigning scoring champion and three-time All-Star has already made one NBA Finals appearance and should make at least a few more. Should he remain healthy, the odds are with Durant on him being. Still, at 23 years old it's a near impossible projection.
The next players with a chance to make the Hall of Fame are Chris Paul,Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony.
Paul has established himself as one of the game's best all-around point guards, and is just entering the prime of his career at 27 years old. A five-time All-Star, Paul has averaged 18.8 points and 9.8 assists for his career, has led the league in steals four times and assists twice.
Like Durant, Westbrook is just 23 years old and is locked into a long-term deal with the Thunder. And like his teammate, Westbrook seems to just be tapping into his potential, and if he is able to team up with Durant and win multiple championships, Westbrook could be Hall-bound.
Anthony has established himself as one of the game's best scorers, but it's unknown if he will ever possess the leadership ability to take over games and get past the hump and into the NBA Finals. Anthony has a post-season record of 16-38, including 0-8 with the Knicks. Still, a five-time All-Star and All-NBA selection, the 28-year-old Anthony has plenty of time to improve his resume to potential Hall status.
Kevin Love and Deron Williams each have outside chances, with the former having the better shot at just 23 years old. It wouldn't be fair to project 19-year-old Anthony Davis' career path, although this year's No. 1 overall pick's future looks bright.
The rest of the 2012 team (Andre Iguodala, James Harden, Tyson Chandler) do not have any real shot at the Hall of Fame, meaning an absolute best-case scenario would give the 2012 Olympic team nine Hall of Famers, two short of the dream team.
Some argue a truer comparison would be if the 2012 team would have had injured stars Derrick Rose (ACL), Dwight Howard (back) and Dwyane Wade (knee) on its roster, but as Comcast SportsNet's Stacey King points out, the 1992 Dream Team did not have Shaquille O'Neal or Isaiah Thomas, either.
But more so than anything, it's worth noting that nine players on this year's team couldpotentially make the Basketball Hall of Fame. Eleven from the 1992 team didmake it.
If the above players enjoy the same successes they have thus far in their careers for the next 10 seasons, only then will they enter the discussion to one day enter the Hall of Fame. For all but one player on the 1992 Dream Team, there is no discussion. They are cemented as 11 of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game.
And while the number of Hall of Famers a team possesses may not be the difference between winning and losing a single game -- as Jordan argues -- between two entirely different eras of athletes, the argument the Dream Team being more dominant in their respective era is hard to argue.