Thursday, June 20, 2024

No Caitlin Clark? How US Olympic basketball teams are chosen.

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What does it take to make an Olympic basketball team?

The formula, it turns out, has little to do with popularity. Although the roster for the U.S. women’s team has not been officially announced, NCAA star and WNBA rookie Caitlin Clark has confirmed that she was not invited to play in Paris. Those who are expected to make the cut: WNBA all stars and MVPs – and gold medal winners,  including Brittney Griner.

Why We Wrote This

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In an Olympic year, difficult choices are often made about who participates on the U.S. basketball teams. How do officials balance ability and chemistry among players vs. popularity?

On the men’s side, NBA all stars and future hall of famers LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant have all signed on. If they prevail, it will be the eighth gold medal for men’s basketball in the previous 10 Olympic games. The women’s team has fared even better. They have won gold nine times, in all but two Olympic outings since they started competing in 1976.

Officials say teams are put together based on ability and chemistry. “I think USA Basketball is exceptional at balancing this roster of four or five time Olympians and other players,” Cheryl Reeve, the women’s team coach, said in April. 

What does it take to make an Olympic basketball team? The formula, it turns out, has little to do with popularity. Although the roster for the U.S. women’s team has not been officially announced, NCAA star and WNBA rookie Caitlin Clark has confirmed that she was not invited to play to Paris. She has set her sights on making the team in the future. Those who are expected to make the cut: WNBA all stars and MVPs – and gold medal winners, including Brittney Griner.

On the men’s side, where the line up has been known for months, perennial NBA all stars and future hall of famers LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant have all signed on. On paper, they make the possibility of winning gold more imaginable.  

If they do win, it will be the eighth gold medal for men’s basketball in the previous 10 Olympic games. The women’s team has fared even better. They have won gold nine times, in all but two Olympic outings since they started competing in 1976.

Why We Wrote This

A story focused on

In an Olympic year, difficult choices are often made about who participates on the U.S. basketball teams. How do officials balance ability and chemistry among players vs. popularity?

Selection for both teams is based on a number of factors. Here’s more on what it takes to make a U.S. Olympic basketball team. 

How are the U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic basketball teams chosen? 

NBA hall of famer and gold medal Olympian Grant Hill is the managing director for the men’s national team. At a media event in April, Mr. Hill said he couldn’t just choose the top two or three players at every position in the NBA – including point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. More factors are in play. 

“Everyone is on this team because they provided something that is needed. Like the versatility that’s needed,” says Mr. Hill, whose choices were approved by the USA Basketball board of directors. “You’ll get a lot of different playing styles that you’ll go against, so we feel like we checked a lot of boxes,” he adds.

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