Fourth-Place Medal

Larry Bird ends the Dream Team vs. 2012 Team USA debate once and for all

Larry Bird stands with the Dream Team, all of whom are old (Andrew D. Bernstein/ Getty).

This week, the basketball world has been torn in two by the debate over the best team in USA Basketball history. Most people argue for the 1992 Dream Team, what with its immeasurable impact on the history of the game and total dominance of all competition on its way to and in Barcelona. However, a younger generation reps for this year's Team USA, full of superstars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. While those players don't yet have the historic weight of the Dream Team's stars, their legends will only grow as they get older and pile up accomplishments.

The debate has extended to the participants. Kobe has claimed that this team would win, which made Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and other members of the Dream Team laugh and respond that the youngsters should respect their elders. It's a tough question, mostly because such a game is impossible and could only be played in some sort of virtual "Lawnmower Man"-type world (a movie that came out in 1992, incidentally).

[ Related: Blake Griffin injures left knee during Team USA scrimmage ]

Luckily, no less an authority than Dream Team member, Boston Celtics legend, and recently retired Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird has weighed in to end the argument forever. After the jump, check out his very logical decision, as tweeted by the Pacers' official account on Thursday:

Larry Bird is a realist (via Twitter).

Well, that certainly makes a lot of sense. Bird had a bad back even in '92, Magic Johnson weighs around 300 pounds, and Michael Jordan has probably smoked so many cigars by this point in his life to limit his lung capacity quite severely. Only John Stockton, who was born as a 35-year-old and has never aged, is still in playing shape. Plus, there's no way he could guard LeBron!

[ Photos: Slideshow: Team USA training camp ]

On the other hand, Bird's realistic approach calls into question other possible scenarios for this matchup. For instance, if the 2012 team were to travel back in time, they could probably handle the shift if only because they were all alive in 1992. But would the Dream Team be able to handle the prospect of facing men from the future? As Ethan Sherwood Strauss notes, MJ could deal with it fine, because he once traveled into a cartoon world and defeated monsters who had stolen the talents of his NBA colleagues. Yet not everyone would fare so well. Something tells me that Patrick Ewing would curl into the fetal position and not leave his hotel room for weeks.

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