A rare sunny day in Manchester and NBA legend Clyde Drexler took in the breathtaking view of the city from the 23rd floor of the Hilton Hotel west lounge.
“It’s wonderful and the sun is shining,” he said with an even brighter grin.
But the Olympic gold-medallist from the 1992 Dream Team was not in the north-west to talk about the weather.
Drexler, a former Houston Rockets forward and NBA Hall-of-Famer admits that the USA’s gap of dominance over the world, especially Europe in basketball is shrinking, with the five-year period of 2002-2007 being the prime example, as the Americans failed to win gold in the world championships and Olympics during that time.
“The gap is closing, but the American teams are always strong,” Drexler said. “In ’92, the closest game we had was a 36 point win. And they played really hard to get it to 36. But now, the gap is close and now those games would be a lot closer and they [USA] could even lose.”
The Houston native was in Manchester to promote the upcoming exhibition games between Great Britain and USA and Drexler hinted that the Great Britain team are ready to compete with the top sides in the world, having stated in February last year that the Olympic hosts should be given automatic entry into London 2012 – which the Brits were awarded with a month later.
“The key is [in America] there are a lot of competitive people who are better than you to help you with your game, and the best way to build this sport here is to play against people that are better than you are.
“I think Great Britain will be fine, they will go into these games and the Olympics with no fear, and will use this as a building block to the future. Basketball here in the UK I know is in good hands, it just needs time to grow.”
Drexler was speaking alongside Great Britain captain Andrew Sullivan and women’s guard Lauren Thomas-Johnson, both of whom will most likely play against the USA at the Manchester Evening News Arena on July 18th (women) and 19th (men).
Drexler believes that USA should go all the way at London 2012, but he warned the American superstars that one slip-up could lead to possible embarrassment.
“The world is much better now than it was in 1992, when I was playing. One mistake and it was taken care of. Now, the European and Asian teams can punish you,” Drexler admitted.
“Personally though, the likes of LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, they’re all polished stars, and importantly, they all know how to perform on the world stage. They should be fine.”
Are the 1992 Dream Team still ranked as the best basketball squad ever assembled, ahead of this year’s edition though?
“I’m not bias, but, maybe,” Drexler joked as he turned to the right to ask Andrew Sullivan the same question.
Put on the spot, Sullivan quietly responded: “I’m going with you  guys.”
No doubt the USA men’s and women’s teams will start as favourites at London 2012, which starts on July 28th (women) and 29th (men).