As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports world was put on hold, forcing seasons to be placed on hold or cancelled altogether. The Olympics arguably felt the impact of the pandemic most as an event that is generally held every four years was forced to be held off for a full year.
Now that the year has passed, the time has come to make up for the Olympics that was put on hold. Festivities have gotten off to a good start as the Olympic Trials have built great anticipation for what is to come in Tokyo.
One sport that the United States has always had great success with in the Olympics is basketball. While most will look to the men’s basketball team as an example of dominance, the women’s team have been just as great.
The women’s basketball team has won gold in each Olympic games since 1996 and has taken gold in all but one Olympics since 1984 (1992). Should the women win this year’s Olympics, it will be their seventh straight gold medal, outdoing the men who are in pursuit of their third straight (took bronze in 2004 Olympics).
The roster for the Olympic women’s basketball team that will compete in Tokyo has officially been announced. The team is a great mix of experienced Olympians and players participating in their first ever Olympic games.
U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball team
Ariel Atkins, Washington Mystics
Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins has been in the WNBA for four years, averaging 12.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals for her career. She helped lead the Mystics to back-to-back WNBA Finals in 2018 and 2019 winning the championship in the latter year. She is the only player on this roster to not have been selected as a WNBA All-Star. Atkins will be participating in her first career Olympic Games. She previously played for Team USA in the 2014 FIBA Under-18 Championship games winning gold.
Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird is a 20-year WNBA veteran. She is the WNBA’s career leader in assists and is fourth in career assists. She has won four WNBA championships with the Seattle Storm including a win in the 2020 WNBA Finals. Bird will be participating in her fifth Olympic Games winning gold medals in each of her prior four appearances in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 respectively.
Tina Charles, Washington Mystics
Washington Mystics forward Tina Charles is a 10-year WNBA veteran. She is the WNBA’s leading scorer this season averaging 24.5 points in her first season with the Mystics. She is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and a former WNBA MVP winning it in the 2012 season. Charles is participating in her third Olympic Games winning gold medals in her prior two appearances in 2012 and 2016.
Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier is the least experienced player on the roster in just her third WNBA season. In her short career so far, she has won the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year, named to the 2019 All-Star team, an All-WNBA second team, and an All-Defensive second team. Although this will be Collier’s first Olympic games, she has extensive experience playing with Team USA. She previously won gold medals playing with Team USA in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and FIBA Americas U18 Championships, the 2015 FIBA U19 World Cup, and the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup.
Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith is one of three members of the Mercury on Team USA’s roster. She has been in the WNBA for eight seasons appearing in four All-Star games, four All-WNBA teams and the 2014 WNBA Most Improved Player award. This will be Diggins-Smith’s first Olympic games, however like Collier, she also has Team USA experience. She previously won gold medals in the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship, 2011 World University Games and the 2012 FIBA 3×3 World Championship.
Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles is a 14-year WNBA veteran. She has appeared on six WNBA All-Star teams, nine All-Defensive teams and six All-WNBA teams. She has also won two WNBA championships winning Finals MVP in each series, the 2017 WNBA MVP and three Defensive Player of the Year awards. This will be Fowles’ fourth Olympic games winning gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas Aces
Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray has been in the WNBA for seven seasons. She has been selected to two All-Star teams, two All-WNBA teams and won a championship with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2016. She is not only making her Olympic debut, this is her first time playing with Team USA in any competition. She has, however, previously participated in training camps with Team USA.
Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner is a nine-year WNBA veteran. She is a six-time WNBA All-Star, has been named to five All-WNBA teams and six All-Defensive teams. She won a WNBA title with the Phoenix Mercury in 2014 and has been Defensive Player of the Year twice. In addition, Griner has led the WNBA in total blocks five times and blocks per game seven times (both including this season) while also leading in scoring twice. She will be participating in her second Olympics winning gold in 2016 as well as winning two gold medals in the FIBA World Cup in 2014 and 2018.
Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd is in her seventh WNBA season. She is a two-time WNBA champion, is a two-time WNBA All-Star selection, a 2016 All-WNBA second team selection and won the 2015 WNBA Rookie of the Year. Loyd is having a breakout year this season averaging career highs in points (18.9) and assists (4.1) while also averaging 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals. This will be Loyd’s first Olympic games but has previously won gold medals in the 2010 FIBA U17 World Cup, the 2014 FIBA 3×3 World Cup and the 2018 FIBA World Cup.
Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart rounds out the Storm trio on this year’s Olympic team. In her five WNBA seasons, Stewart has been highly accomplished. She has won two WNBA championships winning WNBA Finals MVP both times, won the 2018 WNBA MVP, has been selected to two All-Star teams, three All-WNBA teams and two All-Defensive teams. Stewart will be participating in her second Olympic games winning gold in 2016.
Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi is one of the most decorated players in WNBA history. She is the WNBA’s career scoring leader (8,994 career points) and career three-pointers leader (1,173). She a three-time WNBA champion, two-time WNBA Finals MVP and won the 2009 WNBA MVP. She is also a nine-time WNBA All-Star and a 14-time All-WNBA selection. Taurasi will be participating in her fifth Olympic games previously winning gold medals in the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Rounding out the women’s Olympic basketball team, Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson is in her fourth WNBA season. She is a two-time All-Star, the 2020 WNBA MVP, a All-WNBA first team and All-Defensive team selection. This will be her first Olympic games but she has previously won gold medals in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Cup, 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, 2015 FIBA U19 World Cup and the 2018 FIBA World Cup.