When did NBA players start playing in the Olympics?

United States v Australia Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 13
United States v Australia Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 13
Evan Tiwari

Team USA have dominated the men's basketball event since the Olympics began, winning 14 out of the 18 possible gold medals. They are the favorites once again this year and will take on France in the gold medal game. Team USA's hopes will rest on star players Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, while France will rely on the frontcourt partnership of Nicolas Batum and Rudy Gobert.

When did NBA stars start participating in the Olympics?

United States v Czech Republic Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 8
United States v Czech Republic Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 8

NBA stars played in the Olympics for the first time in 1992 when the 'Dream Team' was assembled. Earlier, USA basketball used to send an amateur team to the Olympic games, but the loss in the 1988 games prompted the federation to request the NBA to supply players.

This led to the 'Dream Team' being formed to ensure that Team USA win a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The roster included Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, LA Lakers' Magic Johnson, Boston Celtics' Larry Bird, Utah Jazz's Karl Malone and John Stockton, and Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks.

Chris Mullin of the Golden State Warriors, David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs, and Charles Barkley of the Philadelphia 76ers along with Portland Trail Blazers Clyde Drexler were also on the roster. Duke University's Christian Laettner was the only amateur on the team.

The Americans steamrolled teams on their way to a gold medal, beating Croatia in the final with an emphatic scoreline of 85-117. Charles Barkley led Team USA in scoring in the event, averaging 18 points per game. Scottie Pippen played the role of a point forward to perfection, registering 5.9 assists per game. Michael Jordan averaged close to 15 points and 5 assists per game.

They never looked back since then, winning gold medals at every Olympics except for the 2004 Athens Olympics. There they had to settle for a bronze, as Argentina took home the gold medal. It led to the formation of the 'Redeem Team' for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which featured the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony.

Also Read: Olympics 2021 Men's Basketball: 3 things Team USA must do to beat France in the gold medal match

Edited by Parimal

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