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Imagining a World Where Olympic Golds Trump NBA Rings

What if DeAndre Jordan were right?

Getty Images
Getty Images

On Wednesday, DeAndre Jordan professed his belief that an Olympic gold medal is a greater accomplishment than an NBA championship. To clarify, he was referring to medaling in the sport of basketball.

“I feel like this is more special. You’re not just playing teams in the U.S. You’re playing teams from all over the world,” the Team USA center told ESPN. “And this is even more special because there’s an NBA champion crowned every year, but this is every four years.”

DeAndre’s logic is bulletproof: A lion beating up on a succession of zebras is definitely more impressive than a lion conquering a bunch of other lions. Assuming this is true, and Olympic basketball really is more important than the NBA, what else should change about our perception of the sport? Here are five conclusions:

1. Carmelo Anthony would be the GOAT.

It won’t shock you to learn that Melo subscribes to DeAndre’s view. If Team USA wins gold in Rio, he’d become the first basketball player in Olympic history to earn three gold medals. “Most athletes don’t have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals,” Melo told ESPN last week. “I can look back on it when my career is over — if I don’t have an NBA championship ring — and say I had a great career.”

In addition to potentially becoming the most decorated Olympic hooper in history, Melo recently supplanted LeBron James as Team USA’s all-time leading scorer. If DeAndre is to be believed, then, it’s easy to make the case that Melo isn’t just a good businessman — he’s also the greatest basketball player the world has ever seen. Think about it: Both his stats and his championship pedigree would be unmatched (three gold medals converts to 12 NBA titles, obviously). Winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy would just be Melo’s fun little side project.

2. Fabricio Oberto would be a household name.

In fact, he might even become more famous than the brand of beef jerky that shares his name. In DeAndre’s universe, that’s the sort of notoriety that comes with dispatching a dynasty.

3. Christian Laettner’s post-collegiate basketball career would be considered great.

As a member of the famed Dream Team, Laettner has more gold medals than Tim Freaking Duncan, whose only Olympic experience came in 2004 (see entry no. 2). You know what they say about Duncan: Dude just couldn’t win the big one.

4. Nothing significant would’ve happened in the NBA before 1992.

Before that year, professional basketball players weren’t allowed to partake in the Olympics. This means that pre-’92 NBA players were forced to compete for a lesser title than their amateur counterparts. Does anyone care about minor league championships? Of course not.

5. Vince Carter would have the most legendary basketball play of all time.

Well … that one’s actually true.