Top 10 Players in USA Basketball History

Top 10 Players in USA Basketball History

Michael Jordan Clyde Drexler Scottie Pippen
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Next month in Spain, the United States Men's National Basketball Team will be gunning for their second-straight title at the newly christened FIBA World Cup (formerly the World Championships). With tradition holding true, the U.S. is again the favorite. Since basketball debuted in the Olympics, the U.S. (men and women combined) has won 21 of 26 golds with a record of 188-8. That supremacy means many outstanding players have come through.

10. Spencer Haywood

Spencer Haywood
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10. Spencer Haywood

Spencer Haywood
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The 1968 U.S. Olympic basketball team was without collegiate stalwarts like Lew Alcindor and Pete Maravich, thus were not favored to win gold for the first time ever. Haywood, the eventual four-time NBA All-Star and then-junior college standout, was the United States' leading scorer at the Mexico City Games, averaging 16.1 points per game. He tallied a team-high 21 in their 65-60 gold-medal game win over Yugoslavia.

9. Teresa Edwards

Teresa Edwards
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9. Teresa Edwards

Teresa Edwards
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The only five-time medalist in Olympic basketball history, Edwards won gold in 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000 and bronze in 1992, with her best Games coming in Seoul when she averaged 16.6 points per game.

8. Bill Russell

Bill Russell
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8. Bill Russell

Bill Russell
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After winning back-to-back NCAA titles at the University of San Francisco, Russell waited until after the 1956 Melbourne Games (held in December) to make his NBA debut. In Melbourne, Russell was the highest scorer (14.1 points per game) on arguably the most dominant U.S. team in Olympic basketball history — one that defeated its eight opponents by an average of 53.5. If they only kept rebound stats in 1956, Russell would likely top that list too.

7. LeBron James

LeBron James
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7. LeBron James

LeBron James
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Following a forgettable Athens Games, James came back to the "Redeem Team" in 2008 as an established star in the NBA. In 2008 in Beijing, James averaged 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game, all of which ranked among the top on the squad. Four years later, and coming off his first NBA title, James took over down the stretch in a 107-100 gold-medal game win over Spain.

6. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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6. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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When Spain closed within two early in the fourth quarter of in the 2008 gold medal game, Bryant took over. A Bryant jumper, his first bucket of a 13-point fourth quarter, stretched the lead to four on the next possession, with the U.S. eventually winning 118-107. In London, Bryant once again averaged double-digits in scoring (12.1).

5. Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas and Jerry West

Jerry West Oscar Robertson
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5. Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas and Jerry West

Jerry West Oscar Robertson
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Robertson (17.0 points per game), Lucas (16.8), and West (14.3) were the three leading scorers on Pete Newell's 1960 squad, short of their career averages in the NBA of 25.7, 17.0 and 27.0, respectively. As professionals, the three combined for 33 All-Star Games, 22 All-NBA First Team selections and three NBA titles in careers that all ended in Springfield. Later, in 2010, the entire 1960 Olympic Basketball team was inducted in the Hall of Fame.

4. David Robinson

David Robinson
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4. David Robinson

David Robinson
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Known as "The Admiral" after attending the U.S. Naval Academy, Robinson was a part of three Olympic teams. His time with Team USA stretched from a disappointing bronze with the college kids in 1988, to the infamous "Dream Team" in 1992, to the Atlanta Games in 1996, where he put up 31 and seven in the final over Yugoslavia. Over 24 Olympic contests and two gold medals, Robinson averaged 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

3. Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley
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3. Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley
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Chuck did not make the 1984 Los Angeles Games despite being the fourth overall pick in that year's NBA Draft. However, the Round Mound of Rebound was first in scoring (18.0) and third in rebounding for the "Dream Team" headlined by Magic Johnson and MIchael Jordan. In '96, Barkley dominated once again as the team's second-leading scorer (12.4) and best on the glass (6.6).

2. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan
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2. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan
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Fresh off three seasons at North Carolina and being selected as the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, Jordan led the USA to gold in Los Angeles. As the team's leading scorer at 17.1 per game, he saved a 20-point output for Spain in the gold-medal game. Eight years later, Jordan was the only Dream Team member to start every game, averaging 14.9 points and 4.8 boards per game — both among the top three on the roster of 11 Hall of Famers.

1. Lisa Leslie

Lisa Leslie
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1. Lisa Leslie

Lisa Leslie
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Four Olympic Games, four gold medals. Leslie was the face of the early years of a still continuing American dynasty in women's Olympic basketball. Beginning in Atlanta and ending in Beijing, Lisa Leslie never saw defeat at the highest level of competition, going an unprecedented 32-0. The three-time WNBA MVP averaged 15.6 points and 7.5 rebounds across four Olympiads, and her teams outscored the opposition by an average of 33.6 points.