LONDON Kobe Bryant recently said the current U.S. mens basketball team would beat the Dream Team from 1992.Maybe. Maybe not.But they left no doubt they are better than France, which touts six NBA players.The Americans did the expected, winning 98-71 in their opening game of the 2012 Olympics. They left little doubt they are here for a gold medal, which could mark the last Olympics with an American team loaded with NBA All-Stars. I think it was important for us to come out and make a statement for ourselves, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul said. Fortunately, we know and understand that were probably the most talented team here on paper, but nobodys ever won a game on paper. We have to go out there and compete, and we know that if we play the right way, well be tough to beat.NBA commissioner David Stern has floated the idea of restricting the Olympics to players no older than 23, with the exception of three overage players. It would follow Olympic soccer and lessen injury concerns raised by NBA owners.U.S. players, though, want to continue the Dream Team tradition started in 1992, with a team comprised of 14 future Hall of Famers.I dont agree with it, said Miami Heat forward LeBron James, before adding, because Im 27.A full house of 12,000 fans, which included First Lady Michelle Obama, likely would side with James after what they witnessed Sunday. The U.S. needed a quarter to fix its shooting and to figure out the FIBA officiating. But after the slow start they went 0-for-6 from beyond the 3-point line in the first quarter when they led only 22-21 the Americans seemed to enjoy themselves. Kevin Durant led the scoring with 22 points, while James had nine points, eight assists and five rebounds. Kevin Love added 14 points and Bryant 10. It was a team effort, which is what the Americans insist they are.We understand that every time we touch the floor that its not about the name on our back; its the name across our chest, James said. Were just trying to do it at a high level and in a respectful way.French star Tony Parker, who had only 10 points against the Americans, stated the obvious afterward. The U.S., he said, is going to be very, very tough to beat.The Americans get Tunisia and Nigeria in their next two games before facing a sterner test against Lithuania on Saturday. They insist, though, that they wont take anyone lightly.We always keep 2004 in the back of our minds when we go out there, New York Knicks forward Carmello Anthony said of the U.S. team that lost three games on its way to the bronze medal. I talk to KD [Durant] about it all the time and [Russell] Westbrook. They always ask me how it was in 2004. Im not the one to blow smoke on anyone, so I tell them how it was. It wasnt a great feeling in 2004. It was an embarrassment. It was a defeated moment. It was like somebody stuck a pin in the balloon, and it just bust. We dont want to have that feeling again. We dont want to experience that. While were going through this whole experience now, we keep that in the back of our minds.