Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), reigning league Most Valuable Player Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), and 2009 MVP Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury). Bird, Catchings, and Taurasi all were members of the 2004 U.S. team that won the gold medal in Athens and the 2008 squad that brought home the gold from Beijing.
Should any of the trio participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, they will have an opportunity to join legendsTeresa Edwards and Lisa Leslie as the only basketball players to earn four gold medals. Leslie is the lone player to take home gold from four consecutive Olympiads, doing so in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008; Edwards won gold in 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000 and collected a bronze medal in 1992.
“There’ve been many players before us who have played in the Olympics and set the standard,” said Bird. “And we did it for them just as much as we did it for ourselves.”
U.S. players earning their second gold medal included 2011 WNBA Finals MVP Seimone Augustus(Minnesota Lynx), 2011 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), 2008 league MVP Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), and two-time WNBA All-Star Game MVP Swin Cash (Chicago Sky). Augustus, Fowles, and Parker each earned gold in 2008 in Beijing; Cash as a member of the 2004 U.S. team in Athens.
Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen (both of the Minnesota Lynx), as well as Tina Charles and Asjha Jones (teammates with the Connecticut Sun), and Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream) ““ each a first-time Olympians ““ also earned gold medals with the U.S. team.
“I remember sitting on my couch in 1996 watching the USA women play and watching them win the gold medal,” said Parker. “I remember watching Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, I remember watching them and being like “˜man I want to be where they are.”
The France Olympic Women’s Basketball Team, which captured its first medal (silver), was led by four former WNBA players: Emilie Gomis (2006), Sandrine Gruda (2008-10), Edwige Lawson-Wade (2005-10), and Emmeline Ndongue (2006).
Eight current and former WNBA playershelped lead Australia to the bronze medal. The Opals, in fact, fell to the Americans in the semifinals, 86-73, in what was the narrowest margin of victory for the U.S. this Olympics. Leading the way for Australia were three-time WNBA Most Valuable PlayerLauren Jackson (Seattle) and rising, second-year player Liz Cambage (Tulsa).
Cambage and Jackson, led the Aussies in scoring against the U.S. with 19 and 14 points, respectively. Jackson departed London with her fourth Olympic medal (three silver and one bronze) and as the all-time leading scorer in Olympic women’s basketball history.
Also earning bronze for Australia were Jenna O’Hea (Los Angeles), and former WNBA players Suzy Batkovic (2005, 2009), Abby Bishop (2010), Kristi Harrower (1998-9, 2001-03, 2005, 2009),Laura (Summerton) Hodges (2005-06), and Belinda Snell (2005-07, 2009-11).
The 2012 WNBA season resumed play on Aug. 16.
A complete list of current and former WNBA players that earned Olympic medals follows.
WNBA MEDAL WINNERS
Team WNBA Years
Seimone Augustus United States 2006-present
United States 2002-present
Swin Cash United States 2002-present
United States 2001-present
Tina Charles United States 2010-present
Sylvia Fowles United States 2008-present
Asjha Jones United States 2002-present
Angel McCoughtry United States 2009-present
Maya Moore United States 2011-present
Candace Parker United States 2008-present
Diana Taurasi United States 2004-present
Lindsay Whalen United States 2004-present
Edwige Lawson-Wade Fran
Emmeline Ndongue Fra
Australia 2005, 2009
Elizabeth Cambage Australia
Australia 1998-9, 2001-03, 2005, 2009
Laura (Summerton) Hodges Australia
Australia 2005-07, 2009-11