Top 50 USA Basketball players of all time: Ranking Kevin Durant, Lisa Leslie, Michael Jordan


Let’s get this out of the way: On this list of the top 50 USA Basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan is ninth. Deal with it.

On Wednesday, USA Basketball formally announced its star-studded men’s team for the Paris Olympics, a roster that rivals the famous 1992 Dream Team. This year is also the 50th anniversary of USA Basketball as an organization. To commemorate that, along with the powerhouse teams the American men and women will send to Paris, I ranked the 50 players who did the most while wearing “USA” across his or her chest over the past five decades. And that’s why you won’t see Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson or Jerry West on this list. Olympic greats though they are, we’re ranking players in the USAB era.

One list, men and women in the same pool, measured by hardware, buckets and years of service to the Red, White and Blue.

So, to properly take in this list, put out of your mind every NBA Finals, regular-season scoring record, MVP speech, Gatorade commercial and shoe contract. Achievements with the Bulls or Cavaliers or Lakers or Celtics or Sparks or Aces don’t count. This roster has nothing — I repeat, nothing — to do with the NBA, or, for that matter, the WNBA.

This USA Top 50 was also determined by a committee of one — me. I have served as The Athletic’s beat writer for the United States men’s national team for the past five years (two FIBA World Cups and an Olympics so far, with another coming in July), and also covered the women at the Tokyo Olympics. I consulted multiple people with years or perhaps decades of experience inside the USA Basketball organization, but the decisions on who to include and in what order were mine.

I spent weeks poring through USA Basketball’s extensive records, with the most important metrics being medals won (either at the Olympics or FIBA World Cups) and individual statistics accumulated. Those things can be measured, and as you will see with No. 1, her stockpile is overwhelming.

Subjectively, I also considered a player’s impact on each USA team for which they played or a standout achievement in a single Olympics or World Cup. These are judgment calls and explain how Kobe Bryant is as high as he is on the list when there are players with more medals behind him, or why Kevin Garnett made it at all over players left off the list entirely despite having more hardware.

Another consideration was a player’s overall service to USA Basketball. How many years did he or she play for the national team, and in how many smaller tournaments? How many years were spent repping the USA at the junior level, and if so, did winning follow? What about 3×3 (hello, Kelsey Plum)?

Legends of the women’s game, pioneers such as Jennifer Azzi, Pat Summit and Ann Meyers, as well as a household name in Rebecca Lobo, are not on the list. Stephen Curry, John Stockton, Draymond Green — all have two golds with USAB (Olympic or World Cup) and need no introduction. Even they still couldn’t make the list. Tim Duncan and Vince Carter suffered the same fate.

Without further ado, the top 50 USAB players ever.

Loading

Try changing or resetting your filters to see more.

Not MJ, LeBron, nor Kobe. Not Taurasi, Swoopes, nor Miller. No one in the 50 years of USA Basketball was more dominant each time he or she put on that American jersey than Lisa Deshaun Leslie, which was the deciding factor in her ascension to No. 1 on our list.

Leslie, of Compton, Calif., was born just two years before USAB was incorporated, and four years prior to the first U.S. women’s team to compete in an Olympics. By the time she played her last Olympic game, on Aug. 17, 2008 in Beijing, she had scored more points (881), grabbed more rebounds (431), or blocked more shots (54) in Olympic and FIBA competition than any man or woman to suit up for the Red, White and Blue. Those records, and two dozen others, still stand.

Pouring in points at close range, corralling others’ missed shots, and swatting away would-be attempts to that degree is the epitome of dominance. No one did it quite like Leslie. Her 35 points in an Olympic game are the most in U.S. women’s history, just two short of Carmelo Anthony’s record on the men’s side, and the 156 points she scored at the ’96 Games in Atlanta were equaled only by Kevin Durant at the 2012 Games in London.

These are just some of the staggering numbers she has that transcend the women’s game, and her resume would be even more extensive if not for a family tragedy that caused her to miss the 2006 World Championships – not coincidentally the last Olympic or FIBA world tournament event in which the U.S. failed to win gold. Three times USA Basketball’s governing body named her the program’s Female Athlete of the Year.

  • Led U.S. women in scoring in 1996, 2000, 2004 Olympics
  • 2002 FIBA MVP
  • Second-most points in single Olympics, women (126, 2000)
  • Third-most rebounds in single Olympics, women (64, 2004)
  • Fourth-most rebounds in single Olympics, women (63, 2000)
  • Ninth in career Olympic assists, women (45)
  • Sixth in career Olympic steals, women (34)
  • Second-most points in single FIBA, women (155, 2002)
  • Third-most points in single FIBA (154, 1998)
  • Second-most rebounds in single FIBA (79, 1998)
  • Fifth-most rebounds in single FIBA (73, 2002)
  • 488 career Olympic points, women
  • 241 career Olympic rebounds, women
  • 37 career Olympic blocks, women
  • 35 points in Olympic game, women (7-31-96, Japan)
  • 16 field goals in Olympic game, women (7-31-96, Japan)
  • 156 points in single Olympics, women (1996)
  • 19.5 points averaged in single Olympics, women (1996)
  • 14 blocks in single Olympics, women (2004)
  • 393 career FIBA points, women
  • 190 career FIBA rebounds, women
  • 20 FGA in FIBA game, women (9-25-02, Russia)
  • 6-6 FTs in FIBA game, women (tied with multiple players) (5-26-98, Japan)
USAB Lisa Leslie scaled e1713376944256
loading

We can safely call Kevin Durant the greatest clutch player in USA Basketball history.

No one has delivered more, and more often, with a gold medal on the line than Durant. In four gold-medal contests, three at the Olympics and another at FIBA, Durant is averaging 29.2 points. Not only are the Americans 4-0 in those contests, but two of them were quite close; a five-point victory over France at the Tokyo Games in 2021 and a seven-point win over Spain at the 2012 Olympics come to mind.

Beyond that, Durant is the most prolific scorer in U.S. men’s history, with 640 points overall (Olympics and FIBA), the most points scored in a single Olympics and a single FIBA competition, the second-most points in a single Olympics, and the most points in a FIBA game. No player has enjoyed a FIBA competition quite like Durant’s 2010 World Championships, in which he led the Americans with a record (men or women) 22.8 points per game; none of his teammates averaged more than 10 points. No player, man or woman, has averaged more points per game in the Olympics over their career than Durant’s 19.8 ppg, nor has any American averaged more in an Olympic tournament than Durant’s 20.2 ppg in the Tokyo Games.

The Americans lost just one game on Durant’s watch – to France in the opening game in Tokyo. He, and they, avenged that loss in the gold-medal thriller. Like Leslie, he was a three-time USAB Athlete of the Year.

  • Led 2012, 2016, 2020 Olympic teams in scoring
  • MVP of 2010 FIBA
  • Made half of his career Olympic 3s (74-of-148)
  • Third-most career Olympic rebounds, men (118)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic assists, men (71)
  • Third-most career Olympic blocks, men (16)
  • Eighth-most career Olympic steals, men (27)
  • Second-most points in single Olympics, men (155, 2016)
  • Second-most points averaged in single Olympics, men (19.5, 2012)
  • Third-most points averaged in single Olympics, men (19.4, 2016)
  • Fourth-most points in Olympic game, men (30, 8-21-16, Serbia)
  • Second-most 3s in single Olympics, men (25, 2016)
  • Second-most career FIBA points, men (205)
  • Third-most 3s in single FIBA (26, 2010)
  • 435 career Olympic points, men
  • 146 career Olympic field goals, men
  • 74 career Olympic 3s
  • 69 career Olympic free throws, men
  • 156 points in single Olympics, men (2012)
  • 20.7 points averaged in single Olympics (2020)
  • 34 3-pointers in single Olympics, men (2012)
  • 205 points in single FIBA (2010)
  • 22.8 ppg average in single FIBA (2010)
  • 74 field goals in single World Cup (2010)
  • 38 points in FIBA game (9-11-10, Lithuania)
  • 14 field goals in FIBA game (9-11-10, Lithuania)
USAB Kevin Durant2 e1713377051389
loading

No basketball player has more medals – Olympic and FIBA – than Sue Bird. She is the epitome of U.S. women’s basketball, a prime example of the best players returning year after year, for Olympics or FIBA play, giving the program unmatched continuity and stretching its virtually uninterrupted era of dominance into a fourth decade. She and Diana Taurasi share the Olympic record for basketball gold medals (five), and no one has more FIBA golds than Bird’s four.

Bird was never the best player on any team, but scoring was never her role. She is the ultimate American distributor, as her 241 assists between Olympic and FIBA play are easily the most for any U.S. player, on either side. A U.S. flag bearer with teammate and best friend Taurasi for the Tokyo games, Bird’s 35 assists in that tournament were the third-most in U.S. Olympic women’s history and a testament to her grace and longevity.

  • Second-most career Olympic assists, women (124)
  • Second-most assists in single Olympics, women (36, 2012)
  • Third-most assists in single Olympics, women (35, 2021)
  • Second-most assists in Olympic game, women (13, 7-27-21, Nigeria)
  • Third-most career FIBA steals (38)
  • Second-most assists in single FIBA, women (41, 2006)
  • 107 career FIBA assists
  • 36 career FIBA games
USAB Sue Bird scaled e1713377000988
loading

It’s not fair to Diana Taurasi and her illustrious career to do this – to say she is “like” a famous male player. She is her own star, carved out her place in the sport, and should not need a comparison or introduction.

But if you are unfamiliar with the women’s game, Taurasi’s competitive spirit is on the level of a Kobe or an MJ. She is ruthless, desperate to cut your heart out with one hand and eat it, while dribbling by you and heading for a layup with the other. (As an aside, she is fluent in several languages, as Bryant was).

Taurasi is a complete player, a two-way star who is both a prolific scorer and tenacious defender and is not afraid to talk a little trash in the heat of the moment. She led two U.S. Olympic teams in scoring, all the more impressive given that America’s true strength over the rest of the world is the size and skill of its post players. Many U.S. women players have a streak like the following – only one loss in X amount of games (for Taurasi, it’s one loss in 68 Olympic and FIBA games, and 67 wins in a row), but it’s a more notable statistic for Taurasi than many of her peers because she was arguably the top player on several of those teams.

If this list were published a year from now, Taurasi, who is likely to play in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, would be ahead of Bird because she will have surpassed her in Olympic golds and tied her in total gold medals. For now, the designation as “most decorated basketball player ever” is what pushed Bird past Taurasi. Taurasi is one of two players to be named Athlete of the Year four times.

  • Led U.S. women in scoring in 2012 and 2016 Olympics
  • Led U.S. in scoring at 2010 FIBA
  • Second-most career Olympic points, women (414)
  • Third-most career Olympic assists, women (97)
  • Seventh-most career Olympic rebounds, women (112)
  • Fourth-highest career Olympic 3-point percentage, women (.448)
  • Third-most career FIBA points, women (363)
  • Third-most career FIBA assists, women (92)
  • 38 career Olympic games
  • .909 career Olympic free-throw percentage (*minimum 20 attempts)
  • 6 3-pointers in an Olympic game, women (8-10-16, Serbia)
  • Six 3-pointers in FIBA game (9-23-06, Brazil)
  • 19.3 ppg in single U19 FIBA (2001)
USAB Diana Taurasi scaled e1713377088255
loading

Because the most important factors in determining the top 50 USA players are the Olympics and FIBA championships, Teresa Edwards is fifth instead of No. 1. If we were to widen the scope just a little, to include the smaller tournaments in which the U.S. national teams participate, she would have a strong case for top billing.

When counting events like the AmeriCup, and the Pan-Am Games, which are basically tournaments for teams on this side of the globe, Edwards played on a total of 22 U.S. teams and scored 2,008 points. We could add the point totals for Leslie and Durant together and still not get that high. Edwards holds numerous U.S. records for points, assists and steals in Americup and Pan-Am play, was the leading scorer for the 1991 U.S. Pan-Am team that won the bronze, and was on the club four years earlier that captured gold.

Otherwise, Edwards is considered a pioneer of the modern era for U.S. women and is the first American hoopster to play in three Olympic tournaments. She shared the backcourt with another dominant force – Dawn Staley – and was a prolific scorer and distributor in Olympic and FIBA play. She finished second in scoring on the 1988 Olympic team with 16.6 ppg and led the team in assists. Two years later, she scored 32 points against Canada in a FIBA game (one of the highest totals for the U.S. women in FIBA play). Edwards, like Taurasi, has four Athlete of the Year awards.

  • All-FIBA tournament team, women (1994)
  • Fourth-most Olympic points, women (265)
  • Second-most Olympic assists averaged, women (4.5)
  • Third-most points averaged in single Olympics, women (16.6 ppg, 1988)
  • Fourth-most assists averaged in single Olympics, women (4.8 apg, 1992)
  • Third-most steals in single Olympics, women (23, 1988)
  • Second-most FIBA points (368)
  • Fifth-most assists in single FIBA, women (30, 1986)
  • Fourth-most steals averaged in single FIBA, women (2.9, 1990)
  • 143 career Olympic assists
  • 59 career Olympic steals
  • 64 assists in single Olympics (1996)
  • 15 assists in Olympic game (7-27-96, Australia)
  • 175 points in single FIBA, women (1990)
  • 21.9 points averaged in single FIBA, women (1990)
  • 12 assists in FIBA game (8-13-86, China)
USAB Teresa Edwards scaled e1713323628774
loading

Carmelo Anthony played more Olympic basketball games than any American male – for which he gets massive credit as a bona fide NBA star who could have done other things with most of his summers over the 12-year period in which he devoted his time to USA Basketball.

Anthony’s place on this list is not merely a participation trophy, though. He and Durant are tied for the most Olympic golds on the men’s side, and he was a critical piece on all of those teams. Anthony retired as the Americans’ all-time Olympic scorer and rebounder, and later surrendered his scoring crown to Durant. No one, man or woman, has scored more points or drained more 3s in an Olympic game than ’Melo, and only Durant put up more points than him in a FIBA game.

The Redeem Team of 2008 is the second-most important team in U.S. history, and Carmelo Anthony is the first entry on this list from that team. He was not the best U.S. player in 2008, but he was close, and his overall USAB career was better and longer than LeBron James’ tenure. Anthony was also the leading scorer during the 2007 AmeriCup tournament, which the Redeem Team needed to qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

  • Second-most career Olympic points, men (336)
  • Second-most career Olympic 3s, men (57)
  • Second-most career Olympic free throws (53)
  • Fourth-most career FIBA points (179)
  • Third-most points in single FIBA (179, 2006)
  • Second-most points in FIBA game (35, 8-23-06, Italy)
  • 31 career Olympic games, men
  • 125 Olympic rebounds, men
  • 37 points in an Olympic game (8-2-12, Nigeria)
  • 10 3-pointers in an Olympic game (8-2-12, Nigeria)
  • 13 free throws in an Olympic game (8-22-08, Argentina)
USAB Carmelo Anthony scaled e1713377127999
loading

Katrina McClain was the best player on the court at the 1988 Olympics, and in 1996 made the launch of Lisa Leslie’s reign in international play possible.

McClain, perhaps the first truly dominant post player in the Americans’ long line of them, averaged a double-double in the Seoul Games of ’88, leading the USA in scoring (17.6 ppg) and rebounding (10.4 rpg). In a win over the Chinese that sent the U.S. to the semifinals, she compiled a ridiculous 27 points and 13 boards. Eight years later, with the Americans looking to reclaim the gold medal they’d lost at the Barcelona Games, McClain demanded so much attention from opposing defenses that there was simply no one to help on Leslie, who feasted and was on her way to becoming, ahem, the greatest in USAB history.

To this day, McClain holds enough records to be considered the second-best post player in U.S. women’s history. Her 23-point, nine-rebound effort in the 1990 FIBA finals remains one of the best gold-medal performances ever. Her resume (she is a two-time Female Athlete of the Year honoree) is even stronger if her accomplishments in Pan-Am tournaments are considered. She led the 1987 Pan-Am gold medal team in scoring and ripped off a U.S.-record 30 points in the championship game. She also has more Pan-Am rebounds than any American, and the third-most points in that tournament.

  • All-FIBA tournament team, women (1994)
  • Led the 1988 Olympic team in scoring and rebounds
  • Second-most career Olympic rebounds (166)
  • Third-most career Olympic steals, women (40)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic points averaged, women (14.3)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic blocks, women (13)
  • Fifth-most career Olympic points, women (258)
  • Second-most points averaged in single Olympics, women (17.6, 1988)
  • Third-most rebounds in single Olympics, women (66, 1996)
  • Second-highest field-goal percentage in single Olympics (.739, 1996)
  • Fourth-most career FIBA points (308)
  • Third-most rebounds in single FIBA, women (78, 1994)
  • Third-most blocks in single FIBA (11, 1990)
  • Fifth-most blocks in single FIBA (10, 1994)
  • 9.2 rebounds averaged over Olympic career
  • 16 rebounds in an Olympic game, women (1992 and 1996)
  • 10.4 rebounds averaged in single Olympics (1988)
  • 11.1 rebounds averaged in single FIBA, women (1994)
  • 13 field goals in FIBA game (6-11-94, Brazil)
  • 19 rebounds in FIBA game (6-11-94, Brazil)
USAB Katrina McClain scaled e1713323721503
loading

The NBA’s all-time scoring king has more assists for USA Basketball than any male player.

LeBron’s USA story starts there – he used his lengthy tenure with the Americans to show his true colors as an all-around talent who affects every aspect of the game. In addition to being the U.S. men’s all-time assists leader, he is in the top 10 in points, steals, and rebounds, as well as among the top 10 in Olympic 3s and blocks. All of this despite Larry Brown almost refusing to play him during the 2004 Olympics, an experience James disliked so much that he initially swore off ever playing for his country again.

We’re all glad he went back on his word. James was the co-heart and soul of the Redeem Team – he and Kobe Bryant – and dedicated his summers in 2006 and 2007 (his performance in the AmeriCup was exemplary, averaging 18.1 points and shooting .622 from 3-point range) to make sure the Americans got back to the Olympics so they could reclaim their spot as the world’s top basketball program. If, as expected, LeBron plays for the USA in Paris this summer, he would likely climb higher on this list. He is also a two-time USAB Male Athlete of the Year winner.

  • Only triple-double in U.S. Olympics history (11p, 14r, 12a, v. Australia, 2012)
  • Second-most career Olympic field goals, men (113)
  • Third-most career Olympic points, men (273)
  • Third-most career Olympic steals (36)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic rebounds, men (95)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic 3s, men (22)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic blocks, men (10)
  • Fourth-most assists in single Olympics, men (45, 2012)
  • Fifth-most steals in single Olympics, men (19, 2008)
  • Eighth-most blocks in single Olympics, men (8, 2008)
  • Seventh-most career FIBA assists, men (37)
  • Fifth-most assists in single FIBA, men (37, 2006)
  • 88-career Olympic assists, men
  • 12 assists in Olympic game, men (8-8-12, Australia)
USAB LeBron James scaled e1713378149824
loading

The Dream Team didn’t just change the trajectory of USA Basketball, it spread the game around the world and is credited for the proliferation of the sport that saw the rise of Dirk Nowitzki, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokc, Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid. Without Michael Jordan, already the most popular player on the planet, anchoring that roster, the “Dream Team” doesn’t have the same look, feel or global cultural impact. Never mind that Jordan’s on-court contributions in the summer of 1992 were mild-mannered (by his standards). Just him being on the floor was enough.

Jordan’s USA career extends back before the Dream Team Tour, however. He was the best player on the last U.S. Olympic men’s team to win gold without players from the NBA when he averaged 17.1 points in 1984. It has been said those ’84 Games were a launching pad for the global stardom he ultimately achieved. Jordan was similarly great in 1983 at the Pan-Am Games, in which he also led the Americans to a gold medal while pacing them in points. In 30 games with USAB, Jordan’s teams never lost, and he was USA Basketball’s top male athlete in 1983 and 1984.

Considering his relatively short USA career, Jordan’s place in the record books is commendable. His role as the face of the most popular international basketball team ever – legendary.

  • Fifth-most career Olympic points, men (256)
  • Fourth-highest career Olympic points averaged, men (16.0)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic field goals, men (111)
  • Fifth-most career Olympic blocks, men (11)
  • Eighth-most career Olympic free throws, men (30)
  • Ninth-most career Olympic assists, men (54)
  • Fifth-most points in single Olympics, men (137, 1984)
  • Third-most field goals in single Olympics, men (60, 1984)
  • Seventh-most field goals in single Olympics, men (51, 1992)
  • 49 career Olympic steals, men
  • 3.1 career Olympic steals per game, men
  • 12 assists in Olympic game, men (7-29-92, Germany)
  • 8 steals in Olympic game, men (twice in 1992)
  • 37 steals in single Olympics, men (1992)
USAB Michael Jordan scaled e1713323780668
loading

There are USA guards with more gold medals, and others with more individual entries into the record books, but perhaps no floor general commanded more respect or ran the USA offense with more control than Dawn Staley.
Staley, a 2004 flag bearer for the U.S. Olympic team, used to reward teammates for fine defensive play by calling plays for them after a great block or key steal. She played with admirable grace under pressure, once draining a shot that won all of her teammates $5,000 apiece in an international exhibition tournament in San Diego.

Her stats in FIBA play may be slightly more appealing than her numbers from her three Olympiads, but in either event, she did what a prototypical point guard was supposed to – distribute the ball and vigorously defend the perimeter.

Staley is also the first to win FIBA golds as a player, assistant coach, and head coach – having directed the Americans to the 2018 World Cup title in 2018. She also has Olympic golds as a player, coach and head coach, having steered the U.S. to a gold in Tokyo.

  • First to win gold medals as player, assistant coach, and head coach
  • Second-highest career Olympic free-throw percentage, minimum 20 attempts (.886)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic assists, women (80)
  • Ninth-most career Olympic steals (28)
  • Second-most career FIBA assists (103)
  • Fifth-most career FIBA steals, women (33)
  • Second-highest field-goal percentage in FIBA (.692, 1994)
  • Second-highest 3pt field-goal percentage in single FIBA (.538, 2002)
  • 52 assists in single FIBA (1998)
  • 12 assists in FIBA game (6-7-98, Russia)
USAB Dawn Staley scaled e1713378188129
loading

Of course, “The Admiral” is going to rank high on an all-USA Basketball list.

David Robinson, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, is the most accomplished male post player in USAB’s storied history. Between Olympic and FIBA play, no American man has grabbed more rebounds, and only Alonzo Mourning has blocked more shots (by one). Robinson was a dominant force within the program before NBA players were allowed, finishing second in scoring on the 1988 Olympic team that won silver and setting a record for his 19 blocks in those games. His 68 rebounds in the 1986 FIBA World Championships were the fourth-most by a man in any FIBA event, and it was for the last USA men’s team to win a world title without pros. His performance in the 1987 Pan-Am Games, in which the Americans finished third, was one of the greatest in U.S. history by a man.

Robinson was a member of the Dream Team and Dream Team II, and is in the top six all-time in rebounds, points, buckets, and steals among American Olympians. Robinson led the mighty 1996 Olympic team in scoring with 12.0 points per game.

  • Second-most career Olympic rebounds, men (124)
  • Third-most career Olympic free throws (50)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic points, men (270)
  • Fifth-most career Olympic field goals, men (101)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic steals (28)
  • Fifth-most rebounds in single Olympics. men (54, 1988)
  • Third-most free throws in single Olympics, men (28, 1996)
  • Fifth-most blocks in single Olympics, men (12, 1992)
  • Second-most career FIBA blocks, men (25)
  • Fifth-most career FIBA rebounds, men (68)
  • Second-most blocks in single FIBA (25, 1986)
  • Fourth-most rebounds in single FIBA, men (68, 1986)
  • 14 FTA in Olympic game (8-3-96, Yugoslavia)
  • 19 blocks in single Olympics (1988)
  • 2.4 blocks averaged in single Olympics (1988)
  • 34 Olympic blocks
USAB David Robinson scaled e1713323836372
loading

One of the biggest names in women’s basketball history, Sheryl Swoopes’ contributions to USA Basketball were perhaps limited in part by sharing the court with Lisa Leslie, and also by an injury.

Swoopes, like Leslie, Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain, were all there in 1996 for the start of this nearly unprecedented run the U.S. women are currently on at the Olympics (seven consecutive golds, equaled only by the U.S. men from 1936 to 1968). She always seemed to fill in where the Americans needed her most, albeit as a scorer (second only to Leslie at the 2000 games), distributor (top five all-time, Olympics and FIBA), or on defense (top 3 in steals).

An ankle injury in her final FIBA tournament, at the 2006 World Championship, limited her playing time and statistical contributions.

  • Third-most career Olympic points, women (274)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic steals, women (39)
  • Fifth-most career Olympic assists, women (68)
  • Ninth-most career Olympic rebounds, women (97)
  • Fifth-most assists in single Olympics, women (31, 1996)
  • Third-most points in Olympic game, women (29, 9-16-00, South Korea)
  • Fourth-most career FIBA assists, women (41)
  • Third-most career FIBA steals, women (37)
  • Third-most steals in single FIBA, women (24, 2002)
  • Fourth-most points in single FIBA, women (152, 2002)
  • .636 3-point percentage in single FIBA, (1994)
USAB Sheryl Swoopes scaled e1713378230130
loading

If we were giving more weight to the USA junior program, Breanna Stewart would be, well, No. 1. She is, hands down, the greatest U.S. junior player ever, having been in the program since 2009 with an astonishing five golds, an MVP to her name during the 2013 U19 FIBA World Cup and a dizzying number of entries into the junior record books (like leading the U19 team in scoring as a 17-year old).

But Stewart has already dominated on the national-team level, picking up a 2018 FIBA World Cup MVP, when she led the Americans in scoring, as well as an All-FIBA tournament team selection in 2022. She came of age at the right time in basketball – when taller players learned to shoot 3s – and at 6-4 she can score from inside and out which the great tall players before her didn’t have.

Stewart is already second all-time in FIBA blocks and third all-time in Olympic blocks on the women’s side, and she is only 29. She could have three more Olympic runs in her, and she’s already been named Female Athlete of the Year three times.

  • FIBA-tournament MVP (2018)
  • All-FIBA tournament team (2022)
  • Third-most career Olympic blocks, women (14)
  • Second-most rebounds averaged in single Olympics, women (10.0, 2020)
  • Third-highest field-goal percentage in single Olympics, women (.733, 2016)
  • Fifth-most blocks in single Olympics, women (9, 2020)
  • Second-most career FIBA blocks, women (16)
  • Fifth-most career FIBA rebounds, women (102)
  • Fifth-most career FIBA assists, women (40)
  • Third-most blocks in single FIBA, women (11, 2022)
  • 7-7 free throws in FIBA game (9-30-14)
  • 152 points in single U19 FIBA (2013)
  • 30 points in U17 FIBA game, women (7-21-10, Japan)
USAB Breanna Stewart scaled e1713378416278
loading

The first “role player” to crack the list. Tamika Catchings was never the star on any of the six U.S. teams she played for that won gold at an Olympics or World Cup. But her impact on those wildly successful teams was too much to ignore, and she certainly did what she was asked as an ancillary player in a program always full of stars.

Catchings started every Olympic game in 2004 and 2012, and while her roles were much smaller in 2008 and 2016, she was selected as co-captain in ’16 in honor of her service. She was also a strong two-way player, compiling enough points and assists to rank among the top 10 of U.S. Olympic players, and in the top five in steals, rebounds, and blocks.

Catchings is also one of the first experienced, wildly successful players to graduate from USAB’s junior program to the national team, as a gold medalist on the U19 FIBA team in 1997, and before that, a bronze winner on the U18 team.

  • Co-captain of 2016 Olympic team
  • Started every Olympic game in 2004, 2012
  • Second-most career Olympic steals (56)
  • Fourth-most career Olympic rebounds (137)
  • Fourth-most Olympic blocks, women (13)
  • Ninth-most career Olympic points, women (184)
  • Tenth-most career Olympic assists, women (41)
  • Fourth-highest field-goal percentage in single Olympics, women (.724, 2008)
  • Fifth-most steals in single Olympics, women (22, 2004)
  • Second-most career FIBA rebounds (138)
USAB Tamika Catchings scaled e1713378454564
loading

The Dream Team clobbered everyone, its players were cultural icons and Michael Jordan was the face of the group that changed Olympic basketball, and by extension, the NBA, forever.

Thirty-two years later, people forget that Charles Barkley may have played the best among his star-studded peers in 1992. Barkley led the Dream Team in scoring (18.0 ppg) despite coming off the bench in four of the Americans’ eight games and also led the way in scoring that same summer at the AmeriCup. Sir Charles’ points and steals at the ’92 Games were top-five performances in U.S. history – impressive considering the company he kept on the court.

Considering Barkley only played in two Olympics (he returned for another go in 1996) his place in the top 10 in several statistical categories is impressive, and most historians say he should have been on the 1984 team with Jordan that won gold.

  • Fourth-most career Olympic free throws, men (42)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic points, men (231)
  • Fifth-highest career Olympic scoring average, men (15.4)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic rebounds, men (82)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic field goals, men (90)
  • Seventh-most career Olympic steals, men (27)
  • Fourth-most points in single Olympics, men (144, 1992)
  • Second-most field goals in single Olympics, men (59, 1992)
  • Third-most steals in single Olympics, men (21, 1992)
  • .875 3-point percentage in single Olympics (1992)
  • .816 field-goal percentage in single Olympics (1996)
USAB Charles Barkley scaled e1713378494587
loading

“Bean” wins our “Spirit of Olympics” award (which is a No. 16 ranking on this all-time list despite holding no records of consequence, having relatively few entries in the top 10 for statistical categories, and not playing all that much over the course of his career for USA Basketball).

Simply to set the tone for his American teammates, in a preliminary-round game against Spain in 2008, Kobe Bryant found his Lakers teammate, Pau Gasol, and ran right through him. That play, that single play, cemented him as a legend with Team USA.

Beyond that, Bryant shared leadership duties with LeBron on the Redeem Team. He took on the role of guarding the opposing team’s best player down the stretch and showed Olympic veterans (like LeBron) what it meant to put in work outside of practice.

Also, while Bryant was wearing Red, White and Blue, he stayed true to his own game. He was a gunner, hoisting a stunning number of shots and 3s. Only two players connected on more Olympic 3s than Bryant, even though he only competed in two Olympiads – both of which ended in gold.

  • Seventh-most career Olympic points, men (217)
  • Seventh-most career Olympic field goals, men (78)
  • Fifth-most career Olympic shots, men (174)
  • Third-most career Olympic 3s, men (34)
  • Third-most shots in single Olympics, men (104, 2008)
  • Fifth-most 3-pointers in single Olympics, men (17, 2008 and 2012)
USAB Kobe Bryant scaled e1713378536318
loading

Sylvia Fowles was a 36-year-old role player at the last Olympics, playing about 10 minutes a game while the next generation of U.S. stars took over. She’d been in their shoes – turning in one of the all-time great performances during the 2008 Games.

In her first Olympics, Fowles led the Americans in scoring (13.4 pg) and grabbed 67 rebounds – second-most of any U.S. women’s player at any Olympics – despite never starting a game. Her 26 points and 14 rebounds in a win over South Korea, again, coming off the bench, is one of the most productive games by any American bench player, woman or man, in history.

Fowles is one of six American women with four Olympic golds and, as an aside, was the top player on the 2019 summer team that won the AmeriCup.

  • MVP of Americup (2019)
  • Third-most career Olympic rebounds, women (156)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic points, women (240)
  • Second-most rebounds in single Olympics, women (67, 2008)
  • Ninth-most points in an Olympic game (26, 8-19-08, South Korea)
USAB Sylvia Fowles scaled e1713323890396
loading

Tina Charles’ entire U.S. career has overlapped with Sylvia Fowles, who plays the same position, and the emergence of Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and A’Ja Wilson over the last two Olympics limited some of Charles’ opportunities. But she is a winner, no doubt, with a total of nine golds when her AmeriCup, university and U.S. juniors stints are counted.

Charles has had moments of brilliance, beginning with her team-high 14 points in her first Olympic game in 2012. She started every game in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, and two years prior was the Americans’ top rebounder at the FIBA World Cup.

Charles was a top player for the U.S. Women at the World University Games (for college players) in 2009, and as a result was named the U.S. women’s basketball athlete of the year.

  • Sixth-most career Olympic rebounds, women (114)
  • Third-most career FIBA rebounds (137)
  • Eighth-most career FIBA points, women (222)
  • Tenth-most career FIBA assists, women (30)
USAB Tina Charles2 e1713378584708
loading

Brittney Griner is one the most impactful players in U.S. women’s history because of her sheer size and force. She commands the paint and can also run the floor, dunk, play help defense and roll to the rim off picks with that combination of size and speed that can’t be taught.

Griner is easily the greatest shot-blocker the U.S. women’s team has ever had, but she does so much more. Her 30 points in the U.S. gold medal game at the Tokyo Olympics was a record, and they came in what happened to be her last game for the Americans to date. She missed the 2022 FIBA World Cup while imprisoned in Russia on drug charges, and is back working with the U.S. program, having attended the women’s last two pre-Olympic training camps.

  • All-FIBA tournament team (2014)
  • Second-most career Olympic blocks, women (20)
  • Fourth-highest career Olympic field-goal percentage (.690)
  • Second-most blocks in single Olympics, women (11, 2016)
  • Second-most points in Olympic game, women (30, 8-8-21, Japan)
  • Fourth-most points averaged in single Olympics, women (16.5, 2020)
  • Fifth-most blocks in single Olympics, women (9, 2020)
  • Second-most blocks in single FIBA, women (12, 2014)
  • Third-most blocks averaged in single FIBA, women (1.5 bpg, 2018)
  • Fifth-highest field–goal percentage in single World Cup, women (.667, 2014)
  • 1.4 career Olympic blocks averaged
  • 18 career FIBA blocks
  • 2.0 blocks averaged in single FIBA, women (2014)
USAB Brittney Griner2 e1713378626798
loading

Alonzo Mourning is the most prolific shot blocker in U.S. history and, at least statistically speaking, the best American male FIBA Worlds player ever. He has more points, rebounds and, of course, blocks than anyone in FIBA play. His first of two World Championship appearances was in 1990 when he was still in college, and yet he posted an all-time tournament with the record for blocks and fifth-most rebounds of any American in a FIBA championship.

Mourning missed two games during the 2000 Olympics because he flew home from Sydney for the birth of his child, and then flew back to finish the Games – vital because the U.S. needed each of his 16 points in a two-point semifinal win over Lithuania.

  • Fourth-most career Olympic blocks, men (14)
  • Fourth-most blocks in single Olympics, men (14, 2000)
  • Fifth-most rebounds in single FIBA, men (61, 1990)
  • Fourth-highest field-goal percentage in single FIBA, men (.685, 1994)
  • Sixth-most free throws in single FIBA (33, 1990)
  • Six blocks in Olympic game (9-19-00, Italy)
  • 215 career FIBA points, men
  • 102 career FIBA rebounds, men
  • 46 career FIBA blocks
  • 37 blocks in single FIBA (1990)
  • 8 blocks in FIBA game (8-18-90, Puerto Rico)
  • 11 free throws in FIBA game, men (8-13-90, Argentina)
USAB Alonzo Mourning scaled e1713326202807
loading

The Americans weren’t even sure Dwyane Wade would be able to play for the Redeem Team because of a serious shoulder injury. Not only did he play, but he led the gold-medal winners in scoring (16.0 ppg) despite coming off the bench and went off for 27 points in the title game against Spain.

Wade, along with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, was introduced to the program at a low point – the 2004 Athens Games – because so many of the older stars skipped out because of injury or security concerns. Unlike LeBron and Anthony, Wade saw playing time in 2004 and re-committed to bring the program back to prominence. Wade was the second-best scorer (19.3 ppg) on the Americans’ 2006 FIBA team that also finished third, despite starting just one game.

To this day, U.S. coaches cite Wade as an example for any NBA player who is asked to come off the bench for the Americans and may be hesitant to do so.

  • Fourth-most career Olympic free throws, men (42)
  • Fifth-most career Olympic steals, men (35)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic steals averaged, men (2.2)
  • Ninth-most career Olympic points, men (186)
  • Tenth-most career Olympic field goals, men (68)
  • Ninth-most points in single Olympics, men (28, 2008)
  • Sixth-most steals in single Olympics, men (18, 2008)
  • Seventh-most free throws in single Olympics, men (26, 2008)
  • Ninth-most steals in single Olympics, men (17, 2004)
  • Eighth-most career FIBA points, men (154)
  • Seventh-most points at single FIBA, men (154, 2006)
  • Eighth-most field goals at single FIBA, men (57, 2006)
  • Fourth-most free throws at single FIBA, men (35, 2006)
  • Seventh-most points in FIBA game, men (32, 9-2-06, Argentina)
USAB Dwyane Wade scaled e1713326277254
loading

Katie Smith is considered both the best utility player in U.S. women’s history and, possibly, the best athlete. She was a high-school state champion in the 100-meter and 400-meter events and a star in field events, too.

Smith took charge toward the end of the 1998 FIBA World Championship gold-medal game against Russia. It was a close play, and had she been called for the foul, the Americans likely would have lost the game. But she had the guts – and quick feet – to get to her spot and hold it and draw the foul.

Smith suffered a torn ACL in the 2004 Olympics, started every game in 2008, and was a starter for both the 1998 and 2002 FIBA championships. Counting the Americup and U19 FIBA championship, Smith won nine golds for the Americans, again, doing a little bit of everything.

  • Sixth-best career Olympic 3-point percentage, women (.421, 16-38)
  • Seventh-most career FIBA steals, women (23)
  • Ninth-most career FIBA assists, women (31)
  • Tenth-most career FIBA rebounds, women (66)
  • .600 3pt percentage in single Olympics, at least 10 attempts, women (12-20 3pt FG, 2000)
USAB Katie Smith scaled e1713326357942
loading

A’Ja Wilson is the only player who, with Breanna Stewart, could be considered for billing as the top U.S. junior player. Her start to her national team career is remarkable.

Her 2020 Olympics (in 2021, of course) began with 19 points and 13 rebounds in her first game, and, by the time it was over, she had averaged more blocks than any player over a single Olympic games. Her 16.5 points per game as an Olympic rookie were among the highest scoring averages in any Olympics and her 11 blocks were prolific. Wilson only followed up those Tokyo Games by being named MVP of the 2022 FIBA World Cup. It’s her third MVP with USA Basketball, counting two such honors garnered in junior competitions.

Stewart’s best argument over Wilson is longevity. If the conversation turns to dominance at the junior level, it’s a close race. Wilson was the leading scorer and rebounder on two different gold-medal junior teams.

  • MVP of 2022 World Cup
  • Second-most blocks in a single Olympics, women (11, 2020)
  • Fourth-most points averaged in single Olympics, women (16.5, 2020)
  • Third-most career FIBA blocks, women (14)
  • Fifth-most points averaged in single FIBA, women (17.2)
  • Second -highest free-throw percentage in single FIBA, women (.954, 2022)
  • 5 blocks in Olympic game, women (8-7-21, Japan)
  • 1.8 blocks averaged in single Olympics (2020)
  • 11 field goals in u19 FIBA game (7-26-15, Russia)
  • 19.0 ppg in single U18 Americas, women (2014)
  • .765 FG percentage in single U18 Americas, women (2014)
USAB Aja Wilson scaled e1713378685830
loading

Perhaps the first “closer” in U.S. women’s history, Cheryl Miller scored 16 points with 11 boards in the Americans’ first Olympic gold win in 1984. The winning margin in that game against South Korea was 30 points. Two years later, in a U.S.-Soviet finale at the FIBA World Championships, Miller was brilliant with 24 points and 15 rebounds.

Miller, a college star at USC and two-time USAB Athlete of the Year, led the U.S. in scoring for the one Olympics, two FIBA championships and Pan-Am Games in which she played. The only time those teams didn’t win gold was in 1983, when the Soviets beat the U.S. by two points. Of course, Miller scored a team-best 23 points; her “closing” skills would kick in the following summer.

  • Fourth-most points averaged in single Olympics, women (16.5, 1984)
  • Fifth-most career FIBA points, women (264)
  • Second-most steals in single FIBA, women (30, 1983)
  • Third-most steals averaged in single FIBA, women (3.3, 1986)
  • Third-most points averaged in single FIBA, women (18.0, 1986)
  • Fourth-most points averaged in single FIBA, women (17.6, 1983)
  • 17 free-throws in FIBA game (8-6-83, USSR)
  • 7 steals in FIBA game, women (8-10-86, Hungary)
  • 19.8ppg in single PanAm, women (1983)
  • 30 points in Pan-Am game (8-23-83, Cuba)
USAB Cheryl Miller scaled e1713326410864
loading

The Redeem Team, and the team after that, had two main distributors – LeBron and Chris Paul.

Paul, who of course is eight inches shorter than James, quietly became one of the most accomplished American Olympic players on the men’s side by taking some of the responsibility to initiate the U.S. offense off of LeBron’s shoulders. Paul was a reserve in 2008, the starting point guard in 2012 and in both roles made a profound impact on winning.

This was especially true at the 2012 Games in London, when Paul rattled off five consecutive points in the fourth quarter of the Americans’ close win over Spain in the gold-medal game. His overall output for assists and steals in London stands as one of the better performances by an American male in a single Olympics, ever, and, when taking into account the astounding 44 assists he produced at the 2006 FIBA World Championships, only LeBron has more assists than Paul in program history.

  • Second-most career Olympic assists, men (74)
  • Second-most career Olympic steals, men (38)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic 3s, men (17)
  • Fourth-most steals in single Olympics, men (20s, 2012)
  • Fifth-most assists in single Olympics, men (41, 2012)
  • Seventh-most steals in single Olympics, men (18, 2008)
  • Third-most career FIBA assists (44)
  • Second-most assists in single FIBA, men (44, 2006)
  • Seventh-most steals in single FIBA, men (17, 2006)
USAB Chris Paul scaled e1713378740845
loading

Among the many U.S. women icons on this list, Maya Moore didn’t play in as many Olympics and FIBA championships as her peers, but she was a dominant force in the tournaments she played.

Never was that more obvious than the 2014 FIBA World Cup, when she led the U.S. in scoring with 15.3 points per game and shot better than 50 percent from 3 (14-of-27). The last two games of that tournament were relatively close, and Moore ensured the Americans captured gold with a team-best 18 points. She was also the second-leading scorer for the U.S. two years later at the Rio Olympics, and she came to the U.S. national team after an excellent run on the American junior circuit, which included two golds and her leading the U19 team in scoring at the 2007 FIBA championship.

  • MVP FIBA tournament (2014)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic assists, women (55)
  • Ninth-most career Olympic steals, women (28)
  • Tenth-most career Olympic rebounds, women (90)
  • Third-most assists single Olympics, women (34, 2016)
  • Fifth-most career FIBA assists (40)
  • Tenth-most career FIBA rebounds, women (66)
USAB Maya Moore scaled e1713378773618
loading

In 1984, the Americans probably don’t win Olympic gold without Patrick Ewing, then a standout center at Georgetown. He was the team’s best big man and second-best player overall behind Michael Jordan, posting the second-most blocks in U.S. history and making 27 free throws throughout the tournament.

Ewing was a vital component of the last U.S. team of non-pros to win Olympic gold as his effort at the ’84 Games makes him the third Dream Teamer on this list. You could take any player off of the 1992 team and the Americans still easily win gold. But Ewing used his time on the Dream Team to become one of the highest-ranking rebounders and shot blockers in U.S. history.

  • Second-most career Olympic blocks, men (33)
  • Fifth-most career Olympic rebounds, men (87)
  • Sixth-most career Olympic free throws, men (36)
  • Second-most blocks single Olympics (18, 1984)
  • Third-most blocks single Olympics (15b, 1992)
  • Seventh-most free throws in single Olympics, men (27, 1984)
  • Six blocks in Olympic game (8-8-84, Canada)
USAB Patrick Ewing scaled e1713326493457
loading

To the extent that dirty work had to be done on the Dream Team, Scottie Pippen was willing and able to do it. Yes, the competition in the summer of 1992 was outrageously overmatched, but Pippen nevertheless stuck to his roots as the ultimate role player (which, of course, made him a star in the NBA) by leading the U.S. in assists and was second in steals.

Pippen returned to the program in 1996 (whereas Michael Jordan did not) and took on a bit more of a scorer’s role, averaging 11 points. USAB recognized him as its Male Athlete of the Year for 1996.

  • Third-most career Olympic assists, men (73)
  • Third-most career Olympic steals, men (36)
  • Second-most steals in single Olympics, men (23, 1992)
  • Third-most assists in single Olympics, men (47, 1992)
USAB Scottie Pippen scaled e1713326560629
loading

Long before there was Brittney Griner, there was Anne Donovan.

Donovan was 6-8, the second-tallest player in U.S. women’s history behind Griner. The 1980s were a much different era and Donovan’s athleticism and overall skillset maybe shouldn’t be compared to all that Griner can do, but when the Americans won their first gold in women’s basketball, Donovan was in the middle of the lane blocking and changing shots. She was the first prolific shot blocker in the U.S. women’s program, a legacy that extended to two Pan-Am games and a FIBA World Championship.

Donovan had a little more room to score on the 1986 FIBA team and averaged 10.9 points – behind three players you may have heard of: Cheryl Miller, Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain.

Also, when the Americans won gold at the 2008 Olympics, Donovan was the head coach.

  • Fifth-most career Olympic blocks, women (13)
  • Fifth-most blocks in single Olympics, women (9, 1984)
  • Second-most rebounds averaged in single FIBA, women (9.9, 1986)
  • Second-most career Pan-Am blocks, women (13)
  • Sixth-most career Pan-Am rebounds, women (45)
  • 1.2 career Olympic blocks averaged
  • 14-14 FTs in single FIBA, women (1986)
  • 13 blocks in single Pan-Am, women (1987)
  • 6 blocks in Pan-Am game, women (8-19-87, Cuba)
USAB Anne Donovan e1713326666309
loading

In an era where the U.S. men were restating, emphatically, that they were the most dominant basketball force on the planet, Shaquille O’Neal picked up where the Dream Team left off.

In his lone FIBA appearance, O’Neal bullied his way to 18.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in a second consecutive tournament where the American squad simply was not challenged. His sheer destruction of the FIBA championships is why he is ranked so high on this list.

O’Neal had more company on the 1996 Olympic team – his only Olympics – where he only started three games and averaged a modest 9.3 points and 5.3 boards on a group that frankly would have been just as fine without him. But he still blocked eight shots in the Atlanta Games.

  • MVP FIBA tournament (1994)
  • Tenth-most career Olympic blocks, men (8)
  • Eighth-most blocks in single Olympics, men (8)
  • Fifth-most career FIBA rebounds, men (68)
  • Fifth-most career FIBA blocks, men (15)
  • Fourth-most rebounds in single FIBA, men (68, 1994)
  • Fourth-most field goals in single FIBA, men (62, 1994)
  • Fourth-most blocks in single FIBA, men (15, 1994)
  • .713 field-goal percentage in single FIBA, men (62-87, 1994)
USAB Shaquille ONeal scaled e1713326830759
loading

As you can see by now, dating to 1996, every U.S. women’s team had multiple transcendent stars with years of Olympic/FIBA experience. This is why Tina Thompson’s short stint (by comparison) on Team USA is impressive.

She was a walking bucket.

Thompson was the Americans’ second-leading scorer at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics – once behind Lisa Leslie and the other time behind Sylvia Fowles. When Leslie missed the 2006 FIBA championship, it was Thompson who stepped forward and averaged a team-best 14.4 points, and at the 2007 AmeriCup, she and Candace Parker were co-leaders when it came to putting the ball through the hoop.

  • Seventh-most career Olympic points, women (215)
  • Eighth-highest career Olympic 3-point percentage, women (.375)
  • Fifth-most points in a single Olympics, women (113, 2004)
  • Sixth-most points in an Olympic game, women (27, 8-11-08, China)
  • Fifth-most points in single FIBA, women (130, 2006)
  • 4-of-4 3-pointers in FIBA game, women (9-14-06, Russia)
USAB Tina Thompson scaled e1713369490465
loading

Kyrie Irving’s 2014 World Cup team was ridiculously good, slaughtered every opponent and was the last of its kind to be loaded, truly, with young NBA stars.

Irving was the MVP of that tournament after posting a game-high 26 points in a gold-medal romp over Serbia. He was the team’s assists and steals leader, but each game was so lopsided that Irving could have vacationed in the Bahamas instead and the World Cup still would have gone to the U.S. James Harden, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan and Derrick Rose were among Irving’s teammates that summer.

Irving was the top guard for the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics, but Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony were on that team. Throw in Irving’s run to a U18 Americas gold in 2010 before his freshman year at Duke and Irving never lost a game for USA.

  • MVP of FIBA tournament (2014)
  • Seventh-most assists averaged in single Olympics, men (4.9, 2016)
  • Seventh-most steals in single World Cup (17, 2014)
  • 12 assists in Olympic game, men (8-14-16, France)
  • .609 3-point percentage in single FIBA (14-23, .609)
  • 6-of-6 3-pointers in FIBA game (9-14-14, Serbia)
USAB Kyrie Irving e1713327388426
loading

Kevin Garnett was so dominant in his only Olympics that there are only seven Americans with more career Olympic rebounds than him. That’s how much damage he did at the 2000 games.

Garnett, known for his intensity, brought that with him to Team USA and he gets an honorable mention for the “Spirit of the Games” award we gave to Kobe earlier. But yeah, he owned the paint at the Sydney games with those 73 rebounds in eight games and was also the Americans’ second-leading scorer at 10.8 points per game. He played admirably the summer before in USA’s Olympic tune-up at the AmeriCup, too.

  • Eighth-most career Olympic rebounds, men (73)
  • Third-most blocks in single AmeriCup, men (2.2 bpg, 1999)
  • 73 rebounds in single Olympics (2000)
  • 6 blocks in AmeriCup game, men (7-25-99, Canada)
USAB Kevin Garnett scaled e1713327422676
loading

Candace Parker picked her spots to shine on U.S. teams crowded with stars. Yes, the Americans destroyed France in the 2012 Olympic gold game, but it was Parker who led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Earlier in that same tournament, she set a women’s U.S. Olympic record for blocks in a game.

At the 2007 AmeriCup, a tuneup for the 2008 Games, she shared scoring duties with Tina Thompson to the tune of 13.8 ppg; and with Lisa Leslie out for the 2006 FIBA championships, Parker set a program record with 14 blocks in that tournament.

Parker also had the single best scoring game of any U.S. woman to play for the U18 division of the American juniors program.

  • Fourth-most career Olympic blocks, women (14)
  • Seventh-most career Olympic rebounds, women (98)
  • Fifth-most blocks in single Olympics, women (10, 2012)
  • Second–most blocks averaged in single FIBA, women (1.6, 2006)
  • 4 blocks in Olympic game, women (7-30-12, Angola)
  • 14 blocks in single FIBA, women (2006)
  • 29 points in U18 Americas game, women (8-8-04, Puerto Rico)
  • 12 FGs in U18 Americas game, women (8-8-04, Puerto Rico)
USAB Candace Parker scaled e1713327504678
loading

A two-time Olympic gold winner whose USA career aligns with Michael Jordan’s, Chris Mullin was the second-leading scorer on the ’84 team, behind only Jordan. Mullin, who averaged 11.6 points in those Los Angeles games, paced the Americans with 20 points in a semifinal win over Canada.

Mullin rejoined the American team in 1992 as a Dream Teamer and even led with 21 points in a romp over Puerto Rico. He shot nearly 54 percent from 3-point range for the tournament, a top-10 all-time performance from deep. A starter for just three of his 16 Olympic Games, Mullin’s place among the top in points, steals, baskets and assists is commendable.

  • Sixth-most career Olympic steals, men (28)
  • Eighth-most career Olympic points, men (196)
  • Eighth-most career Olympic field goals, men (77)
  • Tenth-most career Olympic assists, men (53)
  • Seventh 3-point percentage in single Olympics, men (.538, 1992)
USAB Chris Mullin scaled e1713438648125
loading

A starter for just one of her 24 Olympic Games over three campaigns, Seimone Augustus is this high on the list because she was on teams that won four golds between the Olympics and FIBA. She averaged a little under 8.0 points per game as an Olympian but was fourth for the American 2014 FIBA World Cup team at 9.6 ppg despite never starting any of those six games that summer.

Considering the star power the U.S. had from 2008-16, Augustus’ ability to make all those teams, and find ways to contribute as a bench player, led to her placement in the top 10 all-time in assists and points.

  • Eighth-most career Olympic assists, women (48)
  • Tenth-most career Olympic points, women (179)
USAB Seimone Augustus e1713378993752
loading

Karl Malone was the third-leading scorer on the Dream Team, behind Chuck and MJ, and shared top-rebounding honors that summer with Patrick Ewing. Indicative of the degree to which the Americans bullied every opponent they faced in 1992, Malone was one of four players to shoot at least 60 percent from the field in that tournament.

Malone returned for more in 1996 but played a smaller role than he held four years prior. To be in the top 10 all-time in as many statistical categories as he is for Americans at the Olympics, with only two tours, on those two particular teams, with starts in just eight of the 16 games he played, Malone’s production is easily enough to land him on this list.

  • Seventh-most career Olympic rebounds, men (78)
  • Seventh-most career Olympic foul shots, men (33)
  • Ninth-most career Olympic field goals, men (69)
  • Tenth-most career Olympic points, men (171)
  • Tenth-most career Olympic steals, men (20)
USAB Karl Malone scaled e1713327684637
loading

DeLisha Milton-Jones’ largest individual contribution to the U.S. Women’s program, at least as a player, came during the 2006 FIBA World Championships, with Lisa Leslie not on the team. Milton-Jones started every game and averaged 7.5 ppg for the bronze medalists. She was a solid bench contributor on the 1998 FIBA team that won gold (7.1 points, 4.5 rebounds), and otherwise played smaller roles on the two Olympic gold-medal teams she made.

Milton-Jones, now the head coach at Old Dominion, spent the last two summers as an assistant coach in the U.S. juniors program, counseling players that won golds at the U18 and U19 levels.

  • Fourth-most career FIBA rebounds, women (113)
  • Sixth-most career FIBA steals, women (29)
USAB DeLisha Milton Jones scaled e1713379161719
loading

While Shaq was terrorizing the paint at the 1994 FIBA championship, Reggie Miller rained down 3s like the all-world shooter that he was. The 30 treys he splashed were bested only by Paul Pierce’s 33 at the 2002 World Championships. Miller was on that team, actually, and sprained his ankle in the sixth game. Not coincidentally the U.S. lost three of its last four.

Miller also put his stamp on his only Olympics in 1996 as the 17 3s he made stands as the sixth-most in U.S. Olympic history – for a career. He did it in eight games en route to another gold.

  • All-FIBA tournament team, 1994
  • Sixth-most career Olympic 3s, men (17)
  • Fifth-most 3s in single Olympics, men (17, 1996)
  • Second-highest career FIBA free-throw percentage (.958, 23-24)
  • Seventh-highest career FIBA 3-point percentage, men (.500, 40-80)
  • Second-most 3s in a single FIBA, men (30, 1994)
  • Sixth-highest 3-point percentage at single FIBA, men (.526, 1994)
  • Fourth-highest free-throw percentage at single FIBA, men (.950, 1994)
  • Ninth-most points in a FIBA game, men (31, 08-09-94, Australia)
  • 8 3-pointers in a FIBA game (8-10-94, Puerto Rico)
  • 8-for-8 free throws in a FIBA game (08-09-94, Australia)
USAB Reggie Miller scaled e1713379249583
loading

There are numerous players listed above Ruthie Bolton-Holifield who have AmeriCup records that are not mentioned in their bios, in large part because they have Olympic or FIBA records.

Bolton-Holified does not, but she is a three-time gold medalist between Olympic and FIBA competitions, started all eight games in the 1996 Olympics and averaged 12.8 points per contest, and retired from the national team in the top 10 all-time in steals – enough for her to get on this list.

But, wow, she had one heck of an AmeriCup in 1993. She was second on the team in points (14.3 ppg), first in steals (3.0 per contest) and 3-point shooting (.452) en route to a silver medal, setting the records you see and ranking in the top five in a bunch of AmeriCup statistical categories.

  • Seventh-most career Olympic steals, women (31)
  • Third-most steals in single Olympics, women (23, 1996)
  • Fourth-highest 3-point percentage in single FIBA, women (.519, 14-27, 1994)
  • 3.0 steals averaged in single Americup, women (1993)
  • 6 steals in Americup game (6-28-93, Mexico)
USAB Ruthie Bolton scaled e1713379285907
loading

Jayson Tatum played brilliantly in a supporting role at the Tokyo Games, averaging 15.2 points (second-most on the team) and pouring in 19 in the gold-medal game against France. It was a game the Americans won by five. If Kevin Durant was the hero of the game and tournament, Tatum wasn’t far behind. His 17 3s and seven blocks in the tournament were top 10 all-time performances.

Tatum is one of the most decorated U.S. junior players on the boys’ side, with three golds, and the injury he suffered early in the men’s FIBA World Cup in 2019 was a major factor in the Americans stumbling to seventh.

  • Sixth-most career Olympic 3s, men (17)
  • Fifth-most 3s in single Olympics, men (17, 2021)
  • Tenth-most blocks in single Olympics, men (7, 2021)
USAB Jayson Tatum scaled e1713379321895
loading

Lindsay Whalen never started a game for USA Basketball (Olympics or FIBA), and you could understand why. The entirety of her career with the national team coincided with the star-studded careers of Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi.

While Whalen was always going to be relegated to a supporting role, she proved steady in her minutes, ranking in the top 10 all-time in U.S. women’s history for assists, with those four golds to boot.

  • Seventh-most career Olympic assists, women (54)
  • Tenth-most career FIBA assists, women (30)
USAB Lindsey Whalen scaled e1713327734689
loading

There aren’t that many two-time Olympic gold medalists on the men’s side – two I can think of — who didn’t make this list. Little of what Gary Payton did personally during his two Olympics run stands out, but in the end, he is fifth all-time in assists and also devoted his summer in 1987 to a U.S. juniors tournament.

Payton also appeared in two AmeriCups and was the leading scorer (16.0 ppg) that won gold in 1999. He was the 1999 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year because of it.

  • Fifth-most career Olympic assists, men (63)
USAB Gary Payton scaled e1713379432706
loading

As the game has gotten faster, and the U.S. players have gotten taller, it’s hard to believe that no U.S. Olympian has gotten to the foul line more times in a game than the 5-10 Cynthia Cooper did against the Soviets back in 1988.

September 27, 1988 was a fateful day for the American program and for Cooper. It marked the first time the U.S. women had beaten the Soviets in Olympic play as Cooper went off for 27 points – the fifth-most points scored in a U.S. women’s Olympic game to date.

  • Fifth-most points in Olympic game, women (27, 9-27-88, USSR)
  • Tenth-highest career Olympic free-throw percentage, women (.861)
  • Fifth-highest career Olympic steals averaged, women (2.6)
  • 3-of-3 3-pointers in Olympic game, women (9-2-88, Yugoslavia)
  • 13 attempted free throws in Olympic game, women (9-27-88, USSR)
USAB Cynthia Cooper scaled e1713327785303
loading

Deron Williams is the first U.S. men’s player on this list who never started a game for the national team, and in 2008 and 2012 was on the roster with LeBron James and Chris Paul. Using the minutes available to him, Williams left the program with two golds and in the top 10 for 3s and assists in Olympic play.

Williams was also the lead guard on the American U19 team that finished in fifth at the FIBA junior championships – a placing that’s slightly misleading. The U.S. lost just once in that tournament – to Australia – but the loss was poorly timed (quarterfinals). Williams led that team with 38 assists.

  • Fourth-most career Olympic 3s, men (22)
  • Seventh-most career Olympic assists, men (59)
  • Ninth-most assists averaged single Olympics, men (4.6, 2012)
USAB Deron Williams scaled e1713379467932
loading

Lynette Woodard was the second-leading scorer (behind Cheryl Miller) on the first U.S. women’s team to win gold, averaging 10.5 points at the ’84 Games. Her first love was defense, and her steals records set in FIBA play have stood for, depending on the record, 34 to 40 years.

Woodard was also an excellent Pan-Am player, competing in two of them for the U.S. and winning gold in 1983 when she was again behind Miller in scoring at 19.0 ppg.

  • Second-most career FIBA steals (48)
  • 33 steals in single FIBA, women (1983)
  • 4.1 steals averaged in single FIBA (1983)
USAB Lynette Woodard scaled e1713327852827
loading

Jason Kidd’s American teams went 46-0, between his two Olympics and three AmeriCups. He was never a statistical juggernaut in Olympic play, but he returned to the program to help the Redeem Team and started all eight games in that historic tournament.

Kidd is one of the great AmeriCup performers in U.S. history, posting staggering amounts of assists and steals on his three tours. Speaking of those, he played in the 2003 AmeriCup as a tune-up for the 2004 Olympics, and then couldn’t play in the Athens Games because of injury. His presence may have made the difference between the bronze the U.S. took and the gold it sought.

  • Tenth-most assists averaged in single Olympics (4.4, 2000)
  • 27 career AmeriCup steals, men
  • 14 assists in AmeriCup game, men (7-15-99, Uruguay)
  • 5 steals in Americup game, men (7-18-99, Cuba)
USAB Jason Kidd scaled e1713379514413
loading

Kelsey Plum is a pioneer of sorts, crossing over and leading the first-ever U.S. 3×3 Olympic team to Olympic gold in Tokyo. The games are by 1s and 2s to 21 or 10 minutes on the game clock – whichever comes first – so point totals don’t quite translate. But let the record show that Plum is, as of now, the all-time leading scorer in U.S. 3×3 Olympic history.

Plum is of course a star in the regulation women’s game – not only in the WNBA but with USAB too. She was the second-leading scorer (15.8 ppg) on the 2022 FIBA World Cup team that won gold in Australia.

  • Leading scorer on 3×3 Olympic team (2020)
  • Won first Olympic gold in 3×3 history
USAB Kelsey Plum scaled e1713327938132
loading

There was one time when the Dream Team did lose….to a U.S. team made up of rising college stars. Grant Hill was on that team.

Four years later, Hill led Dream Team II in steals en route to his only Olympic gold (in his only appearance). Previously, Hill starred in the American juniors program as a top player on the U18 Americas team that won gold in 1990, and, this summer, has a chance to bring another gold back to the U.S. as managing director for the star-studded team that will compete in the 2024 Olympics.

We know injuries derailed a lot of what Hill could have accomplished in the NBA, and likely on the court for USA Basketball as well, but the totality of his resume still suffices.

  • Second-most steals averaged in single Olympics (3.0, 1996)
  • 25 steals in single u18 Americas, boys (1990)
  • 14 free throws in U18 Americas game, boys (7-15-90, Panama)
  • Four steals in Pan-Am game, men (8-15-91, Puerto Rico)
USAB Grant Hill scaled e1713327984426
loading

Lusia Harris was the best player on the first U.S. women’s Olympic team. The ultimate trailblazer, she averaged 15.2 points and 7.0 rebounds en route to a silver medal in 1976 — including scoring the first basket in U.S. Olympic history on the women’s side. Because the Americans did not compete in 1980, she didn’t get a second chance at Olympic gold, or an opportunity to add to her statistics, but, she led a team that was inducted – in its entirety – into the Naismith Hall of Fame.

  • Won 1975 PanAm Gold
  • Led 1975 FIBA team in scoring
USAB Luisa Harris scaled e1713328046941
loading

(Top illustration: Eamonn Dalton / The Athletic; Photos: Christian Petersen, Andrew D. Bernstein / NBAE,  Tim Clayton/ Corbis via Getty Images)





Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top