Current and Former WNBA Players in the 2012 Olympics
The WNBA will be heavily represented at the 2012 Olympic Games in London with as many as 38 current and former players among those who will go for the gold beginning Saturday, July 28. In all, a current or former WNBA player dots the roster of nine of the 12 countries participating in this year’s Olympics. The International Olympic Committee is expected to officially announce the nation’s respective rosters on July 27.
Each of the 12 members of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team currently play in the WNBA, led by a trio of two-time Olympic gold medalists – Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), reigning league Most Valuable Player Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), and 2009 MVP Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury). Bird, Catchings, and Taurasi all were members of the 2004 U.S. team that won the gold medal in Athens and the 2008 squad that brought home the gold from Beijing in 2008.
Other returnees from the gold-medal winning 2008 U.S. Olympic Team are 2011 WNBA Finals MVP Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), 2011 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), and 2008 league MVP Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks). Swin Cash (Chicago Sky) is another member of the current U.S. team to already own a gold medal, having earned hers with the 2004 U.S. team in Athens.
First-time Olympians for the United States include Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen (both of the Minnesota Lynx), as well as Tina Charles and Asjha Jones (teammates with the Connecticut Sun), and Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream).
The Australian Olympic Team features a trio of current WNBA players in three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson (Seattle Storm), Elizabeth Cambage (Tulsa Shock), and Jenna O’Hea (Los Angeles Sparks). For Jackson, this is her fourth Olympics, having led Australia to the silver medal three times – in Sydney in 2000, as well as in Athens and Beijing. Cambage and O’Hea are making their first appearance in the Olympics.
Several other active WNBA players will take to the court in London. Becky Hammon (San Antonio Silver Stars) will play for the Russian Olympic squad as she did in 2008 when she earned a silver medal. Erika de Souza (Atlanta Dream) returns to the Olympics for a second time with Brazil, having helped her native country to a fourth place finish at Athens in 2004.
Current WNBA rosters featuring multiple Olympians include the Minnesota Lynx (3 - Augustus, Moore, and Whalen), Atlanta Dream (2 – de Souza and McCoughtry), Chicago Sky (2 – Cash and Fowles), Connecticut Sun (2 – Charles and Jones), and Seattle Storm (2 - Bird and Jackson).
Olympic coaches also bring WNBA pedigrees as well. Marynell Meadors (current head coach with Atlanta) and Jennifer Gillom (current Washington Mystics assistant and former head coach of Los Angeles and Minnesota) will serve as assistants to Geno Auriemma on the United States squad. Tom Maher, head coach for Great Britain, served in the same capacity with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in 2001, and Carrie Graf, head coach for Australia, led the Phoenix Mercury in 2004 and 2005. Assisting Graf will be former WNBA guard Michele Timms, who played five seasons with Phoenix (1997-2001) and had her number “7” jersey retired by the team in 2002. Janeth Arcain, a star guard with the Houston Comets (19978-2003, 2005), is an assistant coach for her native Brazil.
The 2012 WNBA season will resume play on Aug. 16 following the Olympics. A complete list of Olympic basketball players with WNBA playing experience follows.
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