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1996 U.S. Olympic Women

Facts & Photos: 1996 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team

  • Date:
    Jul 27, 2020

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were to be held July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the Summer Games to 2021. USA Basketball is celebrating the original dates of the 2020 Olympics with a look back at past U.S. Olympic men’s and women’s basketball teams through photos and fun facts. Be sure to check in daily for Olympic memories galore!

On this day in USA Basketball Olympic History: July 27

Ahead of the Atlanta Olympic Games, the 1995-96 USA National Team trained together for 10 months and, while compiling a 52-0 exhibition record, logged more than 100,000 air miles and played games in five different countries, 20 states and Washington, D.C. During its travels, the team went for a jog with then-president Bill Clinton.

1995 Women's National Team, Bill Clinton

1996 U.S. Olympic head coach Tara VanDerveer spent an entire season away from her Stanford University women’s basketball team in 1995-96 to prepare the USA for the Games. On the U.S. roster were two of her players at Stanford – Jennifer Azzi and Katy Steding.

Tara VanDerveer

Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain, both of whom played for the University of Georgia, participated in the 1996 Opening Ceremony in Atlanta. Edwards gave the athletes’ oath, and McClain helped carry the IOC flag into the stadium.  

Teresa Edwards
Teresa Edwards

Katrina McClain
Katrina McClain (left side, third back)

The 1996 Olympic Games kicked off Lisa Leslie’s Olympic career. She would go on to also win gold in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Lisa Leslie

  1996 also was the start of Olympic runs for Dawn Staley and Sheryl Swoopes – who won gold in 2000 and 2004. Additionally, Staley went on to win Olympic gold as an assistant coach in 2008 and 2016.
Dawn Staley
Dawn Staley

Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes

More popular than any previous women's basketball team, the USA drew a record 202,556 fans during the 1996 Olympics for an average of 25,320 spectators per game.

1996 U.S. Olympic Women 

With its success and popularity, the 1996 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball team is credited with helping to pave the way for the founding of the WNBA, which launched in the spring of 1997 and the now-defunct National Women’s Basketball League, which launched in the fall of 1996. Most of the team members and USA head coach Tara VanDerveer were able to reunite in 2006 for a team photo, twenty years later.

1996 U.S. Olympic Women's Reunion

The gold-medal winning 1996 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team was awarded Team of the Year honors by USA Basketball and the U.S. Olympic Committee and was selected by the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 as the Trailblazer of the Game recipient.

 Rebecca Lobo

The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame has inducted nine of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team members and three of its coaches. Hall of Fame inductees include: Jennifer Azzi (Class of 2009), Ruthie Bolton (Class of 2011), Teresa Edwards (Class of 2010), Lisa Leslie (Class of 2015), Rebecca Lobo (Class of 2010), Katrina McClain (Class of 2006), Nikki McCray (Class of 2012), Dawn Staley (Class of 2012), Sheryl Swoopes (Class of 2017), head coach Tara VanDerveer (Class of 2002) and assistant coaches Ceal Barry (Class of 2018) and Marian Washington (Class of 2004).

1996 U.S. Olympic Women 

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