Diana Taurasi’s Golden Opportunity at the 2024 Paris Olympics

United States Women's Basketball Team
United States Women’s Basketball Team

by Henry Liao

Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi

Diana Lorena Taurasi, the all-time leading scorer in WNBA history out of the Phoenix Mercury, is seeking to extend her glittering Olympic women’s basketball record of consecutive gold medals to six when the United States seeks an eighth successive gold in the Paris Olympics later this month.

Overall, the American ladies are 9-1-1 in the tournaments in which they have competed.

The 6-foot, 42-year-old Taurasi, who is married to former Mercury teammate Penny Taylor, is currently tied with Sue Bird with five straight golds from the 2004 Athens to 2020 Tokyo games (postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic) for most gold medals ever by an Olympic basketball player of any gender.

Seven other basketball personages have snared four medals, including Americans Lisa Leslie (four golds), Tamika Catchings (four golds), and Carmelo Anthony (three golds/1 bronze).

Phoenix Sun Kevin Durant, the all-time scoring leader in Team USA’s Olympic men’s basketball history, is looking for a fourth gold in the Paris Games after 2012, 2016, and 2020. He also suited up for the gold medal-winning Stars and Stripes squad during the 2010 FIBA World Championship (now known as the FIBA World Cup since 2014).

United States Men's Basketball Team
United States Men’s Basketball Team
Taurasi, whose mom is an Argentine, has donned the Phoenix Mercury colors after being chosen No. 1 in the entire 2004 WNBA draft. She was the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2014 and, except for the 2015 season when she was sidelined due to a broken hand, has been with the club for the last two decades.

To augment her financial status, Taurasi also saw action in Russia and Turkey during the WNBA offseason.

The US Olympic men’s basketball team has grabbed the gold in 16 (plus one silver and two bronzes) of the 19 tournaments that it has participated in, including seven straight from 1936 to 1968.

It began a streak of four straight gold-medal finishes during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In Tokyo in July-August 2021, the Americans mentored by the legendary Gregg Popovich, paid back an elimination-round 83-76 defeat to France with an 87-82 victory over the French in the gold-medal contest. Australia, behind Patty Mills’ 42 points, secured its first-ever Olympic men’s basketball medal by beating Luka Doncic and Slovenia, 107-93, in the bronze-medal contest.

All the games were held at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Moreover, all games were held behind closed doors.

Due to the quirk in the scheduling of games, the Philippines is the first team to score at least 100 points in a match in Olympic men’s basketball history.

On July 30, 1948, during the Olympics in London, the Filipinos defeated Iraq, 102-30 (47-16), in the opener of the Group B competitions for the first ever 100-point game in Olympic history.

Eventually, a weak Iraqi team lost to Chile, 100-18, Korea, 120-20, and China, 125-25.

For good measure, Belgium also shellacked Iraq, 98-20, in the latter’s third game (sandwiching the pair of 100-point losses).

Regardless, the Philippines was the first to accomplish the 100-point scoring feat in Olympic basketball history.

Henry Liao

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