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Lessons We Can Learn From the Dream Team

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The way I see it, fantasy basketball is like a giant cookie.

Excuse me for ripping off NBC's Community, but I'm a huge fan of the show. In one episode, Troy Barnes (played by Donald Glover) starts eating an enormous cookie and begins to feel sick.

"How can something that's delicious make me sick?" he asked.

"Unless ... too much of a good thing is actually a bad thing?"

You got it Troy.

If there's one thing I've learned about sports culture in the United States in my 22 years of existence it's that more is always better.

But what do we do when we have too much?

We get sick.

The 1992 Dream Team is a perfect example of that.

Wednesday night, an interesting documentary airing on NBATV will explore the most unbeatable basketball team ever assembled.

You want to talk stacked? D-Wade, Kobe, LeBron, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant don't hold a candle to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen.

Oh yeah, and they had David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Karl Malone too.

You'd probably assume that with this kind of All-World roster, these guys could probably shoot the lights out in fantasy.

Yes, the U.S. scored over 100 points in each of their eight games at the 1992 summer games and won all of their games by at least 32 points.

Individually, however, nobody stood out the way you'd expect them to. No players came close to the 30 ppg or 15 rpg we routinely see amongst NBA league leaders.

The team's leading scorer, Charles Barkley, averaged a mere 18 ppg in Barcelona while Ewing and Malone shared the team lead in rebounding at 5.3 boards per game. Both Ewing and Malone averaged over 11 rpg for their respective NBA squads that season. Barkley's 18 ppg was well below his 1991-92 regular season average of 23.1 pgg for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Jordan's stats took an even bigger hit than Barkley's did. He tallied an excellent 30.1 ppg for the Chicago Bulls during the 1991-92 NBA season but in the Olympics, he only managed 14.9 ppg on 45.1 percent shooting. From the three-point line, he shot a miserable 21.1 percent and his free throw shooting (68.4 percent) was also subpar.

Pippen carried the team with a team-best 5.9 assists per game which was close but still not as impressive as the seven assists per game he tallied alongside Jordan with the Bulls in 1991-92.

Of course Magic Johnson was dealing with the HIV virus during the Olympics so he wasn't 100 percent but his assist numbers (5.5 apg) were way down from where they were in his final full season with the Lakers in 1990-91 (12.5 apg).

So what gives? If they were the "Dream Team" how come everyone posted such pedestrian stat-lines?

Well for one, Olympic games (40 minutes) are eight minutes shorter than NBA games.

But aside from that, the Dream Team was ridiculously deep, meaning that nobody received anywhere near the amount of playing time they would as the best player on a typical NBA squad. Drexler started all 76 games he played in with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1991-92. He started just four of the Dream Team's eight games in the Olympics.

When you're not in the game as often, it's tougher to find your rhythm, which is probably why Jordan shot so poorly during the Dream's Team eight-game stretch in Spain.

Decreased playing time wasn't the only obstacle members of the Dream Team faced in Barcelona.

Team chemistry was a big issue for this group. Bird, Malone, Jordan and Barkley were a few of the cockiest and most outspoken players in the league. These were guys who were used to doing things their own way.

In a preview for the documentary, Magic Johnson said practices with the Dream Team "were like war." It couldn't have been easy for Coach Daly to keep all those massive egos in check.

If you think about it, this team was the definition of "too much of a good thing."

That's not to say they weren't still completely amazing. The 1992 Dream Team is as essential to American culture as the Star-Spangled banner and the Rocky movies.

But from a fantasy perspective, it just doesn't work.

Say the Miami Heat lose to Oklahoma City in the Finals and enter this upcoming offseason looking to retool with high profile players like Steve Nash and Ray Allen. Can you imagine what kind of circus that would be?

Erik Spoelstra and company have had a tough enough time trying to find team chemistry with the roster they have now. Adding another pair of superstars will make shots even harder to come by and if things aren't going well, somebody's head might explode.

Even if a revamped roster can produce winning results for the Heat like it did for the Dream Team, I'd stay as far away as I could from them when drafting my fantasy team.

We saw this happen in Boston at the beginning of the Big Three Era.

Paul Pierce, Allen and Kevin Garnett all sacrificed their statistics for the sake of winning during their time together in Boston. Pierce averaged 25 ppg the season before Garnett and Allen joined the Celtics. Since then, his best ppg total is just 20.5 set in 2008-09 while Garnett missed most of the second half of the season with a knee injury.

Going back to the Heat, Wade's stats are already slipping: his 22.1 ppg this past season was his lowest total since his rookie season. Could Wade's stats survive if he has to share the ball with another superstar teammate next season? I'm leaning towards no.

Maybe the Heat won't have to go that route but in the future we're sure to see many more teams across all the major sports try to develop their own incarnation of the Dream Team.

Is it worth it?

Not if you own a fantasy team. Call me crazy but if Nash and Allen come to Miami, I'm not picking LeBron first in my draft next year, especially with Dwight Howard and Kevin Love available.

You can keep your giant cookie, Miami.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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