Each week leading up to the Olympic Games later this summer, we will introduce you to the WNBA players who will be representing their countries in Athens. From first-timers to veteran Olympians, the WNBA's best and brightest stars will be showcasing their skills on the world's biggest stage.

Dawn Staley, United States
By Matt Wurst, WNBA.com
The Basics

Country United States
Hometown Philadelphia, PA
WNBA Team Charlotte Sting
Position Guard
Height 5-6
Weight 125 lbs.
Birthday May 4, 1970
Olympic exp. 1996, 2000
No matter how good its players are, every team needs a leader. For the U.S. Women's National Team, the best women's basketball team in the world over the last decade, that on-court leader has been Dawn Staley.

In the fifteen years since Staley first put on a red, white and blue USA jersey, she has won two Olympic gold medals and two World Championship gold medals. Staley was a member of the historic 1995-96 USA Basketball Women's National Team that rolled up a 60-0 record and captured the 1996 Olympic gold medal. She was named the 1994 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year and earned 1994 Goodwill Games MVP honors after leading the U.S. to a gold in that event. Leading up to the 2000 Olympic Games, Staley led the U.S. to a 38-2 pre-Olympic record, while capturing the 1999 U.S. Olympic Cup and USA Basketball International Invitational titles.

After spending two seasons in the ABL, Staley already ranks among WNBA leaders in assists (4th), free throw percentage (6th), minutes per game (7th), minutes (19th), assists (3rd) and assists per turnover (10th) in her WNBA career. In 2003 Staley aided the Sting to a second place finish in the Eastern Conference and tied a franchise high of 18 victories. Two years earlier, Staley and the Sting turned around a 1-10 start to advance to the 2001 WNBA Finals, falling to Lisa Leslie and the Los Angeles Sparks.

Staley only played four games with the National Team in its spring exhibition tour (2.5 ppg, 4.0 apg) as a result of other basketball-related committments. In the last few years, Staley has taken her leaderships skills to another level: as the head women's basketball coach at Temple University (Pa.). Since taking over in the 2000-01 season, Staley has advanced her Owls to two NCAA Tournament berths. This spring, she was named Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Owls to the top of the A-10 East standings with a 14-2 record and Temple's second A-10 Tournament title for her second trip to the Big Dance as a coach.

Staley will be going to her third Olympics
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
Up close and Personal

Do you have a favorite Olympic sport other than basketball?
"Boxing. "

Who is your favorite Olympic athlete of all-time?
"Jackie Joyner Kersee has always been my favorite for all that she has done as an athlete and what she has done in her community."

What is your favorite Olympic memory growing up?
"Mary Lou Retton in 1984. I was only 14, but everyone in America was glued to the television. I wasn’t very into gymnastics, but the hype was big and the pressure was on. I really think that America willed her to the ‘10’ on that vault. That was an Olympic moment that I really enjoyed and was very memorable."

How about your personal favorite Olympic memory?
"Receiving my first gold medal. We worked extremely hard, but it was well worth going through what we went through to get to that point. You want it to end that way, and if it hadn’t we would have felt devastated."

What are you most looking forward to about Athens this summer?
"I am most looking forward to defending our gold medal. The camaraderie is great, but we really don’t have enough time to get to know each other and do all of that. We are there strictly for business and to win the gold. That is my job as one of the most experienced players on the team. I have to keep everyone focused. We are there to have fun, but it won’t be any fun if we don’t win it all."

As an Olympic veteran who doesn't have too many more Olympics left, how important is it for you to educate and share your experiences with the younger players on the team?
"It is very important. Eight years ago, when I was receiving my first gold medal, the key messages were passed down to me. You have to cherish those moments, but also pass the experiences on. You have to pass down what it means to represent your country and what it takes to prepare to win a gold medal. Not everyone knows what it’s like. Diana (Taurasi) doesn’t really know yet. Sue (Bird) really doesn’t know yet. You don’t know what it is like until you are there and experience it.

Is there anything specific you will teach them or say to them?
I’ve always told Sue that most of the time, mabye 90% of the time, our team is going to win handily. But it is the remaining 10%, those once or two instances in a tournament where the gold medal will really be on the line. It could be in the semifinals or the finals, but you will have to get the more experienced players together and tell them where you want them to go and what must happen out on the floor. And you always have to be ready for those two or three times. That’s what I want to pass down to the younger players like Sue and Diana."

If you had to descrive yourself as a player in one word, what would it be?
" A competitor."

Game on Game

Tina Thompson, U.S. teammate:
"Dawn is a veteran. She knows the game. She can play it, she can coach it, she can direct it…she does everything."

Katie Smith, U.S. teammate:
"She is another one who is an entertainer and keeps me laughing. She is feisty on the court and she'll get the team where it needs to be. Dawn helps keep us focused and is a lot of fun to play with."

Svetlana Abrosimova, Team Russia forward:
"She is perfect for the Americans. She is versatile and knows the players. She is going to be really important for the team.."

Yolanda Griffith, U.S. teammate:
"The leader."

Shannon Johnson, U.S. teammate:
" I really enjoy playing with Dawn because she is a coach on the floor. She knows the strengths and weaknesses of our team and the helps us. If you leave her open she is going to make you pay for it."

USA Basketball Statistics

TEAM
G/S
FGM-FGA
PCT
3PM-3PA
PCT
FTM-FTA
PCT
RPG
PPG
AST
BLK
STL
2004 WNT
4/2
5-7
.714
0- 0
.---
0- 0
.---
0.8
2.5
16
0
3
2002 WC
9/ 9
15- 32
.469
7- 13
.538
7- 7
1.000
1.2
4.9
24
0
10
2002 WCX
2/ 2
6- 8
.750
4- 5
.800
2- 2
1.000
0.0
9.0
9
0
1
2002 WNT
1/1
0-  1
.000
0-0
.---
0  -0
.---
1.0
0.0
1
0
1
2000 OLY
8/ 0
9- 19
.474
2- 4
.500
21- 12
1.000
1.3
4.0
29
0
7
99-00 WNT
35/24
63- 134
.470
20- 41
.488
30- 34
.882
1.7
5.0
168
1
44
1999 WNT
5/ 5
14- 29
.483
2- 9
.222
3- 4
.750
1.2
6.6
24
1
11
1998 WC
9/ 9
23- 55
.418
6- 20
.300
11- 12
.917
1.0
7.0
52
0
14
1998 WCP
13/12
20- 46
.435
6- 13
.462
12- 13
.923
1.7
4.5
67
0
20
1996 OLY
8/ 0
6- 18
.333
2- 5
.400
19- 23
.826
0.6
4.1
28
1
9
95-96 WNT
28/19
51-134
.381
17- 51
.333
22- 26
.846
1.4
5.0
103
1
25
1994 WC
7/ 0
27- 39
.692
5- 10
.500
22- 25
.880
1.1
11.6
27
1
9
1994 GWG
4/ 4
11- 29
.379
1- 6
.167
14- 16
.875
1.3
9.3
23
1
10
1993 WCQ
7/ 6
13- 34
.382
4- 11
.364
9- 12
.750
1.6
5.6
34
0
8
1992 JC
8/ -
20- 42
.476
1- 3
.333
9- 11
.818
1.5
6.3
38
1
17
1991 WUG
8/ -
18- 34
.529
0- 3
.000
3- 4
.750
1.1
4.9
18
0
2
1989 JWC
6/ -
24- 47
.511
1- 3
.333
16- 18
.889
2.8
10.8
8
1
14
TOTALS
188/93
380-824
.461
98-223
.421
219- 251
.873
1.4
5.7
807
8
239

Previous:
Sue Bird, USA
Tina Thompson, USA
Katie Smith, USA
Lauren Jackson, Australia
Lisa Leslie, USA
Tamika Catchings, USA
Swin Cash, USA

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