When the NBA was good vs. the NBA now:
“Wade said after a whirlwind offseason that included six weeks with the U.S. national team that his legs feel like he’s already 60 games into the season.”
Now, I’m a big fan of Dwyane Wade, just like I’m a fan of Lebron James. But I’m amazed at how bitchy and moany these guys are. Exhausted at 24 and 22, respectively? That’s insane. I really don’t remember that being an issue for the original Dream Team. In fact, let’s look at some numbers from the 1992-93 season to see how they followed up their gold medal effort in the summer of ’92:
1. Charles Barkley: At the ripe old age of 30, Sir Charles averged 25/12/5 (shooting 52 percent from the field) , leading the Phoenix Suns to 62 wins and a trip to the NBA Finals. Did I mention he was the league MVP? Did I also mention he led the Dream Team in scoring and minutes per game? Did I mention he never once mentioned having tired legs?
2. Michael Jordan: Well, let’s see — 32 points (on 50 percent shooting), 6 rebounds, 5 assists. His team won 57 games, he was the runner up in MVP voting, and he won his 3rd straight NBA title and Finals MVP award. And at 30, he only missed three games…and one of those missed games was a suspension for punching Reggie Miller in the face.
3. Scottie Pippen: Produced 18/7/6 on a nightly basis, and was part of the previously mentioned Bulls threepeat. Still dreadfully ugly, but not exhausted.
4. Patrick Ewing: Scored 25 PPG on 50 percent shooting to go along with 12 RPG. His Knicks won 60 games, which was the second best record in the league that season. And if Charles Smith gets a well-deserved whistle in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they probably would have made it to the Finals. He may have looked like the missing link, but he finished third in MVP voting.5. Karl Malone: The 30-year-old Mailman scored 27 PPG on 55 percent shooting, ripped down 11 RPG, and even dished out 4 APG. The only thing that receded that season was his mighty hairline.
6. John Stockton: The little guy in the “Stockton to Malone!” combo racked up 15 points and 12 assists a game. Like Malone, he didn’t miss a game…despite being a year older than the Mailman and wearing short-shorts that cut off all circulation both above and below the waist.
7. David Robinson: The Admiral was 28 years old. He didn’t miss a single game, and he averaged 23/11/4, sinking many a battleship along the way. And the dude was ripped.
8. Clyde Drexler: Okay, maybe The Glide is a bad example. He played only 49 games. And while he scored 20 PPG and even managed 6 rebounds and 6 assists, his numbers all fell from the previous season. But this was probably due more to the fact that Jordan had destroyed him so badly in the 1992 NBA Finals, a beating from which Clyde never recovered.
9. Chris Mullin: This guy was 30 years old, slow, white, and on top of all that a recovering alcoholic. But he still threw in 26 a game on 51 percent shooting…all from the outside! He also grabbed 5 RPG and almost 4 APG.
10. Christian Laettner: The only rookie on the team, he was 23 years-old as a Dream Team member and turned 24 during the season. Despite playing for a crappy team, he scored 18 PPG and pulled down almost 9 RPG. These were his best numbers as a pro. And he only missed one game.
11: Larry Bird: Retired.
12: Magic Johnson: AIDS. Or alien abduction. Take your pick.
So there you have it. The original Dream Team spent their entire summer travelling all over the world and taking part in countless promotional ceremonies, and still managed to survive and thrive throughout the next season. And they weren’t pampered nearly as much today’s players. Hell, most teams didn’t even have private planes back then, let alone personal chefs, massage therapists, etc. As always, I’m just sayin’.