As the team physician for the Dream Team, Dr. David Fischer was up close with the most star-studded team ever assembled as they rolled through the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Nearly 25 years later, Fischer has decided to let other fans and collectors share that experience.
Fischer has put almost all of the memorabilia he acquired during that historic summer up for auction, providing a rare chance for people to get their hands on some unique pieces from the United States Olympic men's basketball team that helped the NBA reach into households the world over.
"This was such a unique team," Fischer told The Associated Press. "It was the greatest sports team ever put together. There are other basketball fans and collectors out there. It's just a good time to let other people enjoy them."
The team was assembled to reclaim the United States' place atop the basketball hierarchy after the Americans finished third in the Seoul Games in 1988. For the first time, NBA players were allowed to compete for the United States, and the result was a collection of talent unlike any other.
Michael Jordan just reaching the height of his powers. Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and David Robinson in the primes of their careers. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird nearing the end of theirs. The group inspired a young generation of players, captivated a global audience and had opponents asking to take pictures at center court before the game started.
"Every shoe that I handle, every basketball brings back a very vivid memory of the exact time and circumstances around that," Fischer said.
Fischer has made available for bid a pair of game-worn, autographed shoes from nearly the entire roster, the Dream Team Olympic championship ring he was awarded after they won the gold medal, a host of other memorabilia signed by the entire team, including basketballs and photographs and the gold medal from the Tournament of Americas qualifying event that took place prior to the Olympics.
Despite the crush of marketing surrounding the team at the time, Jordan, Bird, Magic and the rest of them were only together for a short summer run, which makes the most collectible items involving the team harder to come by.
"With players of this caliber, their stuff is not coming to market anytime soon," said Chris Ivy, the director of sports memorabilia auctions for Heritage Auctions, the auction house that is handling the process.
What makes Fischer's collection potentially more valuable, Ivy said, was what collectors call provenance. In an age of skyrocketing values for sports memorabilia, collectors and auction houses can sometimes have difficulty validating the authenticity of an item. But because Fischer was a member of the team and is the original owner of the items, the authenticity is unquestioned.
"There were a lot of people that were seeking material from the team at the time and I'm sure some of it made it out there," Ivy said. "But having it come from someone like this is great. I don't expect Barkley or Magic or Jordan or Bird or players of that caliber to be offering their personal material anytime soon. So this is a great opportunity."
The auction has already started online at www.ha.com and will continue until 10 p.m. on May 13, at which point anyone who has placed a bid on an item will be able to participate in an "extended bid" process. Once a bid has stood for 30 minutes, the item will be awarded to the winner.
Ivy estimated that the entire package of items could fetch between $150,000-200,000. The most sought after items, Ivy said, figure to be Jordan's game-worn shoes, Fischer's Olympic ring and a special basketball signed by the entire team that was only given to members of the team.
"I have to live with the reality they are going to belong to someone else," Fischer said. "Whatever the value is, that's determined by the people that want to buy them, not by me."