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The Top Ten American Teams in Olympic History

Miracle on Ice 1980 Men's Hockey
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The Olympic Games have a way of creating iconic moments that no other sporting event can, combining pure athletic performance with a type of national pride you just don't find anywhere else. And while many times the individual stands out, the team is still held above all.

On that note, let's take a look back at ten of the greatest American team performances in Olympic history.

10. 2004 Women's Softball Team

Jennie Finch USA Softball
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10. 2004 Women's Softball Team

Jennie Finch USA Softball

You know your team is good when your sport is removed from the Olympic program, with not-so-hushed whispers regarding your dominance. In 2004, the American women outscored their opponents 51-1 on the way to a third straight gold medal. The sport was removed following 2008, but the team that played in Athens was as close to perfection as it gets.

9. 1998 U.S. Women's Hockey

Cammi Granato USA Women's Hockey
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9. 1998 U.S. Women's Hockey

Cammi Granato USA Women's Hockey

For years, the American women’s hockey team had been the also-ran to Canada. Although they were the clear favorite to bring home a silver medal, it was their surprise defeat of the powerhouse neighbors from the north that allowed the Americans to bring home the first ever gold medal in their sport.

8. Venus and Serena Williams

Venus and Serena Williams Olympics
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8. Venus and Serena Williams

Venus and Serena Williams Olympics

The sisters have been fierce rivals throughout their pro careers. Each have a singles gold – Venus in 2000, Serena in 2012 – but where they truly shine is as a team, where the power duo have won three of the last four gold medals to become the most highly decorated tennis players in Olympic history.

7. Michael Phelps And The 2008 Men's Swimming Team

Michael Phelps 2008 Olympics
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7. Michael Phelps And The 2008 Men's Swimming Team

Michael Phelps 2008 Olympics

2008 was the year of Michael Phelps, but the entire men’s team made a mark. Ryan Lochte and Aaron Piersol set world records to win the 200m and 100m backstroke, as did all three relay teams, completing a historic sweep for Team USA in Beijing’s “Water Cube”.

6. 2012 Women's Soccer Team

2012 Team USA Women's Soccer London Olympics
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6. 2012 Women's Soccer Team

2012 Team USA Women's Soccer London Olympics

The USWNT has been a powerhouse for years on the international stage, but never more so than in the 2012 London Games. Abby Wambach became a household name, but Carli Lloyd put home the two decisive goals that clinched the undefeated tournament and a record fourth team gold medal.

5. 2012 Men's Basketball

LeBron James 2012 Summer Olympics
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5. 2012 Men's Basketball

LeBron James 2012 Summer Olympics

Team USA has won all but four gold medals in men’s basketball history. After a disappointing bronze medal run in 2004, the Americans had to regroup and refocus to regain their rightful place atop the game. Taking on a younger, quicker style as a team, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant dominated all competition and proved that American basketball is still a force to be reckoned with.

4. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings
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4. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings were both accomplished volleyball players before they got together, but once they teamed up, they became unstoppable. Even after splitting up temporarily following their second gold in 2008, they picked up right where they left off, completing the three-peat in London and staking their claim as the greatest team in volleyball history.

3. 1996 USA Women's Gymnastics

Kerri Strug 1996 Summer Olympics
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3. 1996 USA Women's Gymnastics

Kerri Strug 1996 Summer Olympics

Long dominated by Russia (and its former Soviet allies) and growing in Asia, the American women’s gymnastics team had tons of talent, but faced a major challenge on home soil. Now, 18 years later, the image of Kerri Strug sticking a vault landing on one ankle to help lead the team to all-around gold is an Olympic icon.

2. 1992 Men's Basketball "Dream Team"

1992 Dream Team Barcelona
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2. 1992 Men's Basketball "Dream Team"

1992 Dream Team Barcelona

When FIBA made the decision to allow NBA players to participate in the Olympics, it changed the game forever. You only need to look at the names – Jordan, Magic, Bird, Malone, Barkley, Ewing, Robinson, Drexler, Pippen, Stockton, Mullin and Laettner – to know this team was unbeatable. 22 years later, it’s still the literal gold standard in Olympic basketball.

1. 1980 Men's Hockey - "Miracle on Ice"

Miracle on Ice 1980 Lake Placid Olympics
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1. 1980 Men's Hockey - "Miracle on Ice"

Miracle on Ice 1980 Lake Placid Olympics

Although the Dream Team was more dominant and probably more talented in their sport, the 1980 men’s hockey team is elevated by the pure national pride the personified in Lake Placid. The victory over the Soviet Union in the semifinal will last forever, with the gold medals to go with it. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!