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Teresa Edwards

Four-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year Teresa Edwards, one of the most respected players in international women’s basketball history, first put on a USA uniform at the age of 17 at the 1981 U.S. Olympic Festival and was a fixture on USA Basketball teams for nearly two decades.

Edwards not only was honored a record (tie) four times by USA Basketball, she is a member of numerous halls of fame, including the FIBA Hall of Fame (2013), U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame (2009), Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame (2011), Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2010) and Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (2001). Additionally, Edwards was a recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award (2011).

Just 20 years old and the youngest member of the gold medal winning 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, Edwards could not have imagined what lay ahead for her in international basketball. The talented guard went on to become the most decorated Olympic basketball player of all-time, male or female, winning four gold medals and one bronze medal for her country. She also etched her name in Olympic history books as the youngest recipient of a women's Olympic gold medal in 1984 (20) and the oldest (36) gold medalist in 2000, a record ceded to the 37-year-old Tamika Catchings in 2016.

Through the years, Edwards was a member of 22 different USA Basketball teams. Of a possible 18 medals, she won 14 gold, one silver and three bronze medals, and USA teams with Edwards on the roster compiled an overall record of 205-14 for a 93.6 winning percentage.

Having played in 216 games representing the United States, Edwards compiled some incredible statistics -- 2,008 points, 890 assists, 576 rebounds and 372 steals and a career field goal percentage of 50.3. Numbers others can only dream of and a record of longevity beyond comprehension.

“Teresa is truly the most competitive athlete I've ever been around in my whole life. I call her the ‘Last of the Mohicans’ because there are not a lot of people out there like her anymore who work as hard, take as much pride in it and want to win as much as she does,” said 1997-2000 USA National Team head coach Nell Fortner following Edwards’s retirement from USA Basketball in 2000. “T is the type of player who can take a team from 15 points down and win the ball game. That's a tough thing to do, but she has the athletic ability, the skills, and more importantly, the heart to do it as she's proven many times.”

A critical component in the USA’s remarkable 46-game win streak in major international competitions between 1983 and 1991, Edwards persevered through a string of disappointing bronze medal finishes at the 1991 Pan American Games, 1992 Olympics and 1994 FIBA World Cup to help return the U.S. to the gold medal platform at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Following the 1992 Olympics, and again in 1994, Edwards talked of retiring from the game. After all, she wasn't getting any younger. While she had seen her international career go from being the youngest member of a USA squad to being the oldest, Edwards still had plenty of game in her. Despite being 29, and just one month shy of her 30th birthday, Edwards played well enough at the ‘94 World Cup to be named to the five-member FIBA World Cup All-Tournament Team.

Two years later at the 1996 Summer Games, a 32-year-old Edwards was still on top of her game. Running the USA offense almost flawlessly as the team's starting play maker, Edwards dished out a tournament-leading 8.0 assists a game, while adding 6.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest and shooting a sizzling 60.0 from the field.

After graduating in 1986 from the University of Georgia, where she played in 128 games and accumulated 1,989 points, 653 assists and a career 51.9% shooting percentage, Edwards began her professional career overseas. She dreamt of competing as a pro in the United States and of once again playing in front of her hometown fans who hadn't seen her on the hardwood since her college days.

So, with that in mind, in 1995 she returned home to try out for a spot on the historic 1995-96 USA Basketball Women's National Team. Edwards knew that if she were selected, she would finally be able to play in her country, on American soil, in front of American fans. She also knew that it would bring her one huge step closer to perhaps culminating her storied career at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and near to her hometown of Cairo, Georgia.

In May of 1995, the woman who had contemplated retiring from USA Basketball in 1994, broke down in tears at the press conference announcing her as one of the 11 players selected to the USA National Team.

Following 10 months of training and tours, which took the U.S. squad on a whirlwind tour of seven countries, while logging over 100,000 air miles, Edwards stood in front of the world and celebrated her 32nd birthday by taking the Athlete's Oath during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. She then capped her then-record fourth Olympics by helping the USA dominate its competition and reclaim the Olympic gold medal.

Once again, Edwards talked of retiring, but the following spring newly appointed USA National Team head coach Fortner came calling.  As a show of support for Fortner, Edwards agreed to play on the 1997 World Cup Qualifying squad. Slipping easily into her veteran leadership role on the court, not only did she help the U.S. to a silver medal at the World Cup Qualification Tournament, but she took an up-and-coming phenom under her wings.

Chamique Holdsclaw, the youngest member on the squad and the only collegian among a team of professionals, looked to T, as she's known to friends, for guidance. A mentor to Holdsclaw on and off the court, the duo lit it up on the floor and combined to score 33.6 points a game at the tournament in Brazil, finishing as the USA’s top two scorers.

Following the 1997 tournament, Edwards was selected to the 1998 USA World Cup Team but withdrew due to personal reasons and again it looked as if she was finished with her international career. However, on Sept. 2, 1999, Edwards was back after being named to the 1999-2000 USA National Team.

Despite threats of "this is my last tournament," Edwards, one of the founding members of the now defunct American Basketball League, finished strong and earned gold in her fifth and final Olympic Games. Edwards, elected co-captain of the 2000 Olympic Team, started all eight games and averaged 6.1 points and a team-best 3.4 assists a game.

With her appearance in Sydney, she became the USA’s 17th athlete to have been selected to five or more Olympic teams, and she currently ranks 11th in the world for most Olympic medals ever won in the same team event. Quite an accomplishment from the women who, luckily for the United States, never knew the first thing about quitting.

International Honors

  • U.S. Chef de Mission for the 2012 Olympic Games.
  • Voted by 1996 USA Olympic Team captains to take the Olympic Oath on behalf of all Olympic competitors at the 1996 Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies.

Halls of Fame

  • FIBA Hall of Fame (2013)
  • U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame (2009)
  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2011)
  • Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2010)
  • Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (2001)
  • NCAA Silver Anniversary Award (2011)

International Records:

  • Currently ranks No. 11 in the world for most won Olympic medals in the same team event; she jumps to No. 3 when factoring only for traditional team sports (sports using balls, pucks, etc.).
  • Scored 368 points over 22 FIBA World Cup games to rank 10th among all-time scorers at the event.
  • Is the only basketball athlete in the world to have won five Olympic medals.

USA Basketball Notes:

  • Gold Medals: 2000, 1996, 1988 & 1984 Olympics; 1990 & 1986 FIBA World Cup; 1990 & 1986 Goodwill Games; 1987 Pan American Games; 1984 R. William Jones Cup; 1982 COPABA Junior Tournament.
  • Silver Medals: 1997 World Cup Qualifying Tournament.
  • Bronze Medals: 1994 World Cup, 1992 Olympics, 1991 Pan American Games.
  • Tournament Titles: 1999 U.S. Olympic Cup; 1983, 1982 & 1981 U.S. Olympic Festivals.
  • Co-captain of the 1996 Olympic gold medal team.
  • Earned 1994 All-World Championship honors.

USA Basketball Records:

  • Named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year a record four times (2000, 1996, 1990 and 1987), a mark since tied by Diana Taurasi.
  • Owns USA Olympic career records for games played (32, tie), assists (143) and steals (59), also lists fourth for points (265).
  • Set USA Olympic single-game record for assists with 15 vs. Australia (7/27/96).
  • Holds USA Olympic competition record for assists with 64 (1996) and ranks third in steals with 23 (1988).
  • Ranks second among all USA World Cup career leaders for points (371), first for 3-point percentage (52.0%) and fourth for assists (75) and steals (46).
  • Set the USA World Cup competition record for points with 175 (1990), also lists third in 3-point field goal percentage (53.6%, 1990), assists (30, 1986) and fifth in steals (23, 1990).
  • Holds USA World Cup single-game records for points with 32 vs. Canada (7/18/90) and Cuba (7/17/90) and is tied for first for assists with 12 vs. China (8/13/86).
  • Owns USA Pan American Games career records for assists (49) and steals (24) and lists fourth in points (175).
  • Set USA Pan American Games single-game records for field goals made with 11 (tie) vs. Brazil (8/15/87), field goals attempted with 21 vs. Cuba (8/10/91), highest field goal percentage with 1.000 (7-7) vs. Peru (8/12/87), assists (tie) with eight vs. Cuba (8/8/91) and Brazil (8/23/87).
  • Ranks third among USA Pan American Games single-competition leaders for points averaged (18.0 in 1991) and first and third for assists averaged (5.8 in 1987 and 4.3 in 1991) and second for steals averaged (2.7 in 1991).

Professional Notes:

  • Played for the WNBA Minnesota Lynx during the 2003 and 2004 seasons and spent 2007 as a Lynx assistant coach.
  • Played for the ABL Atlanta Glory and Philadelphia Rage.
  • Prior to the ABL folding in December 1998, ranked first in the ABL for scoring (21.0 ppg.), fourth for assists (5.6 apg.) and third for steals (2.9 spg.).
  • Named 1998 All-ABL first team, finished season ranked as the ABL leader in assists (6.7 apg.), second in steals (2.7 spg.) and third in scoring (20.4 ppg.).
  • On April 17, 1997, named Player/Head Coach of the ABL Atlanta Glory, posted a 15-29 record in the 1997-98 season.
  • Scored a league record 46 points vs. Seattle (11/20/97) and was the only ABL player to score 40 or more points in a game and did so four times in two seasons.
  • Shares the ABL single-game assist record, dished out 14 assists vs. Seattle (1/25/97).
  • Named 1997 All-ABL first team and runner-up to Olympic teammate Nikki McCray in league MVP voting.
  • Selected as 1998 and 1997 ABL All-Star as Eastern Conference starting guard. Scored an ABL All-Star Game record-tying 20 points in 1998.
  • Finished 1996-97 season ranked as the ABL's second leading scorer (21.1 ppg.).
  • Played professionally for nine years in Vicenia and Magenta, Italy (1987, 1988); Nagoya, Japan (1989-1993); Valencia, Spain (1994); and Tarbes, France (1994).

Collegiate Notes:

  • During her four seasons (1983-86), Georgia compiled a 116-17 overall record (87.2%), participated in four NCAA Tournaments, reached the NCAA Final Four twice (1985, 1983), finished runner-up in 1985 and won three Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles (1986, 1984, 1983).
  • Named 1986 and 1985 All-American by Kodak, Naismith, Women's Basketball News Service, and Street & Smith's.
  • Selected All-SEC first team in 1986, 1985 and 1984.
  • One of only three Georgia women's basketball players to have her number retired (#5).

Personal Notes:

  • Oldest of four children, has three younger brothers.
  • Earned her college degree in leisure studies in 1989.
  • Has a street named after her in her hometown of Cairo, Georgia, also the birthplace of Jackie Robinson.

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USA Basketball Statistics

YEAR G FGM-A PCT 3PM-A PCT FTM-A PCT REB PTS AST BLK STL
2000 OLY 8 19-31 .613 3-6 .500 8-10 .800 15/ 1.9 49/6.1 27 1 3
1999-00 WNT 39 68-138 .493 13-35 .371 20-30 .667 88/2.3 169/4.3 143 9 66
1998 WNT 5 6-23 .261 2-6 .333 4-6 .667 21/ 4.2 18/3.6 27 0 17
1997 WCQ 5 23-57 .404 3-16 .188 24-32 .750 21/4.2 73/14.6 28 7 5
1997 WCQP 13 52-118 .441 13-36 .361 30-35 .857 38/2.9 147/11.3 62 1 25
1996 OLY 8 24-40 .600 1-4 .250 6-13 .462 30/ 3.8 55/6.9 64 2 8
*1995-96 WNT 49 119-228 .522 16-52 .308 58-71 .817 147/3.0 324/6.5 249 6 60
1994 WC 7 33-62 .532 11-22 .500 12-15 .800 25/3.6 89/12.7 21 1 9
1992 OLY 5 26-70 .371 5-24 .208 6-10 .600 2/ 0.4 63/12.6 27 1 18
1991 PAG 6 43-84 .512 8-22 .364 14-16 .875 8/1.3 108/18.0 26 2 16
1990 GWG 5 30-59 .508 5-13 .385 17-22 .773 11/2.2 82/16.4 21 2 13
1990 WC 8 65-122 .533 15-28 .536 30-41 .732 11/1.4 175/21.9 24 6 23
1988 OLY 5 33-57 .579 0-3 .000 17-21 .810 9/1.8 83/16.6 17 1 23
1987 PAG 4 31-54 .574 0-3 .000 5-10 .500 11/ 2.8 67/16.8 23 0 8
1986 WC 7 48-86 .558 0-0 .000 11-13 .846 18/2.6 107/15.3 30 1 14
1986 GWG 5 30-55 .545 1-2 .500 7-12 .583 9/ 2.5 70/14.0 15 1 13
1984 OLY 6 6-22 .273 n/a .--- 3-9 .333 12/2.0 15/ 2.5 8 0 7
1984 JC 8 21-41 .512 n/a .--- 2-2 1.000 15/1.9 44/ 5.5 9 3 12
1983 USOFS 4 28-60 .467 n/a .--- 5-7 .714 17/4.3 61/ 15.3 16 2 8
1982 JRCOP 8 59-112 .527 n/a .--- 13-27 .481 37/4.6 131/ 16.4 33 6 16
1982 USOFS 4 26-45 .578 n/a .--- 8-10 .800 17/4.3 60/ 15.0 12 2 4
1981 USOFS 4 9-23 .391 n/a .--- 0-0 .000 14/3.5 18/ 4.5 8 0 4
TOTALS *216 799-1587 .503 96-272 .353 300-412 .728 576/2.7 2008/9.4 890 54 372

*The 1995-96 USA Basketball Women’s Senior National Team played 52 games, however, statistics for two of the Senior National Team’s games are not available, also, statistics except for points are not available for one game during the Senior National Team’s tour. Edwards game total of 216 reflects all games, her point total reflects points scored in 214 games, all other statistics are for 213 games.

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