The U.S. basketball team etched their place in history Sunday as they beat Japan, 90-75, to claim their seventh straight Olympic gold medal.
It was a record-breaking endeavor on several fronts for the Americans.
The win ties the Olympic record for all team sports, as U.S. men’s basketball claimed seven straight golds from 1936-1968. And in winning their fifth gold medals, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are the most winning in women’s Olympic basketball history.
Brittney Griner set a scoring record for an U.S. athlete in a gold medal game, with 30 points, while A’ja Wilson added 19 and Breanna Stewart put up 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Coach Dawn Staley became not only the first Black woman to coach the U.S. women’s team, and has been a part of six of the winning squads – three as a player and two as an assistant coach.
Bird said she never imagined being a part of five gold medals.
“Not in my wildest dreams,” she said. “That’s what makes it even more special. I never thought it was a possibility.”
Griner credited her teammates for believing in her, and for getting the ball into her hands. She said she has relied on both Taurasi, who is her teammate in the WNBA, and Bird, for guidance.
“It means a lot to me,” Griner said of her second Olympic gold medal. “A lot of people have put in a lot of hard work and dedication to get here, to get us to seven. And just to be a part of that, I’m honored.”
It was the 55th consecutive win for Team USA over the last 25 years, and a breakthrough for Bird and Taurasi. Teresa Edwards, Lisa Leslie and Tamika Catchings also had four gold medals over their Olympic career, and with the Tokyo victory, Sylvia Fowles has also earned her fourth. Only Bird and Taurasi have five.
Though she has seen Olympic success from every vantagepoint, Staley said this was her last Games as head coach.
“I’m done,” she told the media.