The U.S. women's basketball team that trounced Australia 92-65 for its fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal Saturday night is, arguably, the best team, top to bottom, that the U.S. women have ever fielded in an Olympic Games. It's not just the roster packed of superstar talent; the U.S. has always had that. It's the way this group committed to team defense, the way it committed to the
"We've always been 12-deep, but this group is the most unselfish group I've ever been around," says coach
So on Saturday night Team USA earned the gold medal, the coach's award and a party-animal citation. Here are a few other superlatives from the women's medal rounds:
With all due respect to the American's formidable starting five of
In anticipation of winning her fourth consecutive gold medal, Lisa Leslie traveled to China with her three golds from Atlanta, Sydney and Athens -- packed in a Chinese silk bag and somehow hustled through security -- and wore them to the medal ceremony. Not that she needed all that hardware to remind her teammates of the legacy she's leaving. "She is a major reason why basketball in U.S. is what it is today," said Bird. Then, pondering the time it took to gather four medals, she added, "That's 16 years, that's incredible to stay at that level and be the pillar of the team and to have four golds. I'm not sure anyone will beat that."
The Bronze medal game, between Russia and China. The South Dakota native and naturalized Russian citizen played her best when it counted most. After she had closed out her unusual Olympic odyssey by scoring 22 points in Russia's 94-81 win over China in the bronze-medal game, Hammon said, "The medal is icing on the cake. To take in the whole experience, to walk around in that village with some of the world's greatest athletes was a very humbling experience. For me it's been everything I've expected and probably even bigger. Probably even more, given all the craziness that has surrounded it."
To NBA Entertainment, the orchestrator of the music, dance squads, trampoline teams and t-shirts launches that ensured there was never a quiet moment in the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium. Seeing Russia fans wrap themselves in Russian flags and gyrate to "Let's Twist Again" during a break in Russia's semifinal against the U.S. was good fun, but it was topped in the second semifinal when China fans took a break from watching their team get pasted by Australia to stand up and happily shake their flags to "Waltzing Matilda".
After the U.S. beat South Korea 104-60 in the quarterfinals, Fowles, sounding like she might have been hanging out with some of the breathtakingly gracious and polite volunteers who populate the Olympic venues, said, "First and foremost, I'd like to thank Korea." She went on to praise the Koreans' aggression and preparation. Then she thanked her teammates and coaches "for getting us ready and letting us know what Korea was all about." Four days later, after winning her final Olympic gold medal, Leslie topped all that by thanking the media for asking her all those questions over the years.