The United States Olympic Men's basketball team is one of the most dominant forces in the history of the Olympic Games. Whenever the U.S. assembles its best and brightest, the rest of the world doesn't have much of a chance.
The 1992 Dream Team was considered the greatest squad ever assembled, but the top ten U.S. Olympic basketball players span 70 years of basketball history.
Top 10 Players in the Men's US Olympic Team
10. Dwyane Wade
Perhaps one of the most underrated players on this list, Wade quietly carved out one of the finest NBA careers in the history of the sport. Wade collected three NBA rings, including one without LeBron where he scooped the 2005-2006 NBA Finals MVP. Other than a couple of misspent later years with the Bulls and Cavaliers, Wade’s career with the Heat was storybook. He was part of the 2008 “redeem team” that brought U.S. basketball back to Olympic gold in 2008.
9. Shaquille O’Neill
Shaq is one of the most massive Olympians to ever participate in the Games. As a young man, he was a member of the 1996 Olympic team that won the gold in Atlanta. Shaquille O’Neill earned his first NBA championship alongside Kobe as a member of the Lakers and repeated the feat as a member of the Miami Heat alongside Dwyane Wade.
8. Kevin Durant
The argument can be made that Kevin Durant is the most dangerous offensive player to lace up a pair of hightops. In addition to being back-to-back NBA Finals MVP with the Warriors, he’s a member of the 2012 and 2016 gold medal team at the London and Rio Olympics. Kevin and Larry Bird are the only men on this list who are members of the 50-40-90 club.
7. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant never accepted anything less than the best during his time in the NBA, and this includes his time playing for the U.S. team at the Olympics. In addition to winning six rings with the Lakers, Kobe is also credited with being the main driver behind U.S. basketball returning to an elite level at the Olympics. Toronto Raptors fans will always remember when Kobe dropped 81 on Sam Mitchell and Jalen Rose.
6. Larry Bird
Larry Bird was a part of the 1992 Dream Team - the greatest collection of basketball talent ever assembled, even if you count Christian Laettner. By the 1990s Bird was already dealing with multiple chronic injuries, but he already beat the best in his era at least once, including MJ, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, and Dominique Wilkins. Bird’s prime years burn as bright as any superstar the NBA’s ever seen, including a few years during the mid-80s where it was impossible to beat him and the Celtics.
5. Magic Johnson
Another member of the famed 1992 Dream Team, Magic Johnson brought showtime basketball to the Los Angeles Lakers. Magic and Larry dominated the association during the 80s like no other pair of athletes in a North American major league. Johnson was a five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA Finals MVP, an NCAA champion, and the NCAA Final Four most outstanding player. His career was cut short tragically by HIV/AIDS, but in just over a decade, he was already a top-ten all-time NBA legend.
4. Oscar Robertson
Some basketball fans may find it a bit shocking to find Oscar Robertson ahead of names like Magic, Kobe, and Larry. However, it’s difficult to estimate just how good Oscar Robertson was because he was so far ahead of his time. In an era of punishing defence and a relative lack of offensive sophistication, Robertson managed to become the first player to average a triple-double for an entire season. He won an NBA ring with Milwaukee in 1971 and earned gold for the U.S. at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.
3. LeBron James
When combining the impact of his work on and off the court, LeBron could be considered the greatest professional athlete to play in any major North American sports league – period. He probably could have been a hall-of-famer in whatever sport that he chose to play, and he’ll certainly enter the Basketball Hall of Fame when he’s done. LeBron has three NBA championships and three NBA Finals MVPs, along with Olympic Gold Medals at the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Olympics.
2. Bill Russell
No player in the modern era comes close to Bill Russell in terms of championships won, and it’s extremely unlikely that anyone will ever challenge his record of 11 rings with the Boston Celtics. Russell revolutionized the sport of basketball with a combination of his intelligence and athleticism, including a stint late in his career when he won a championship as a player and coach. Russell is one of seven players with an NBA Championship, NCAA Championship, and an Olympic Gold Medal.
1. Michael Jordan
The greatest of all time almost singlehandedly dominated the most important decade in NBA history. As the sport exploded in popularity, Jordan earned six NBA championships and six NBA Finals MVPs, including a pair of three-peats with a two-year break in between. He took home everything that a man could win on a basketball court, including an NCAA championship, national college basketball player of the year, a pair of Olympic Gold Medals, rookie of the year, and defensive player of the year.
Jordan’s line of sneakers has been popular for nearly 40 years, and he was inducted into the basketball half-of-fame twice. Once for his NBA career, and once for his role as a leader of the 1992 Dream Team.
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