Apparently, there's some disagreement on just how competitive F.C. Barcelona, 92-88 winners over the Lakers Thursday in Spain, would be in the NBA. Writes ESPNLA's Dave McMenamin, across the pond covering L.A.'s European preseason jaunt:
Despite Barcelona's respectable showings against a team that has made it to the Finals three straight years and won two titles, Lakers coach Phil Jackson doesn't think the 2010 Euroleague champion could sustain that type of success in the NBA... When asked if FC Barcelona could be a competitive team over the course of an 82-game NBA season, Jackson replied flatly: "No."... "They played really well [Thursday], but they're not up to the competition that we face night in and night out," Jackson said. "But that's not taking anything away from them. The physicality of our game, the size of our players, those are things that night in and night out are very difficult to contest."... Kobe Bryant let out an exasperated sigh when told about his coach's opinion ("I don't know why he says these things some time," Bryant said) and then disagreed with Jackson.
"I think they execute extremely well, they know each other extremely well, they move the ball extremely well and that's what you're looking for," Bryant said. "In the NBA, teams that do that are few and far in between, teams that play together as a unit. You see a lot of isolation game; you see a lot of guys going one-on-one. They do a great job moving the ball, they do a great job helping each other defensively, so I disagree, but, what do I know?"
I'm with Phil, here. No disrespect intended, but F.C. Barcelona doesn't have the depth of talent to compete on the NBA level for 82 games, and certainly wouldn't challenge for an NBA title. Maybe if some of the guys with connections to the squad- Pau and Marc Gasol, for example- were actually on it... but they're not. Barcelona has plenty of guys who can, have, or will play at the NBA level, but none of the true star power required to be an elite team in the best league on the planet. Certainly Ricky Rubio isn't there yet, as his airballapallooza Thursday demonstrated.
Kobe, gracious guest and wildly popular global basketball icon, was being tactful, a surely genuine respect for F.C. Barcelona notwithstanding. I don't believe for a second Bryant believes they'd actually compete as an upper level playoff contender in the Association, rubbing elbows with the L.A.'s, Miami's, Orlandos, OKC's and so on of the NBA universe. It's certainly not a surprise to see Pau seem to dodge the question a touch while at the same time praising his fomer team.
Which leads to tonight's Q: Just how good do you think F.C. Barcelona is? Do you agree with P.J. or Kobe?
I doubt they'd be the worst team in the NBA. As Kobe notes, F.C. Barcelona, with a selection of NBA caliber players on the roster, work extremely well together as a unit, which is worth a lot. It's hardly unusual to for teams with less talent but more cohesion to flummox more powerful squads. It's why playing even a Yao-less Rockets squad is about as pleasant as pulling splinters out from underneath a fingernail. Minnesota, New Jersey, Indiana, Toronto. These are just a few examples of teams likely to win between 20 and 30 games this year, give or take a couple on the low end. Is F.C. Barcelona good enough to be in that range? Better? Worse?
All questions to kick around while enjoying this incredibly on-the-nose homemade video of the Three Dog Night classic, Never Been to Spain. (For the record, my favorite slide covers the lyric, "They tell me I was born there." Brilliant!)
UPDATE (9:30 am PT): As he notes in the comments section, our man "Graaaaaaady" only answers "questions in Poll form." So I've added a poll below the jump. No excuses now, Graaaaaaaady!