The Olympics are a popular sporting event for a variety of reasons, but one of the top sports during the Summer Olympics for some fans is basketball. Olympic basketball has been part of the games since 1904 when it was introduced as a demonstrative event. It became an official medal sport in 1936, and women’s Olympic Basketball made its debut in 1976.
The United States is without a doubt the most successful country to compete in Olympic basketball. The U.S. men’s teams have won 15 out of the 18 tournaments that they participated in, including consecutive titles from 1936 to 1968. The women’s teams have been equally successful winning eight out of the 10 tournaments that they competed in, including six in a row between 1996 and 2016.
Aside from the United States, Argentina is the only country that still exists that has won either a women’s or men’s tournament. Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, and the Unified Team are countries who no longer exist that have also won a tournament.
It was Kansas Jayhawk basketball coach Phog Allen who played a role in organizing the first Olympic basketball tournament in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, presented medals to the top three teams. The Americans proved their dominance winning all seven Olympic tournaments held until 1968. The American teams were banned from sending professional players from the NBA but sent college players instead. Other countries sent their best players that were classified as “amateur” because they earned allowances rather than wages.
The winning streak for the United States ended in 1972 when the Soviet Union beat the U.S. in the game for the gold medal. The U.S. reclaimed the gold medal in 1976 against Yugoslavia. In 1980, the U.S. team was absent due to a boycott and Yugoslavia won the gold that year. In 1984, the Americans were back to take the gold home again, but the Soviets reclaimed the gold in 1988 after beating the U.S. again.
In 1989, NBA players earned approval to compete in international tournaments, including the Summer Olympic games. So, in 1992, the United State’s “Dream Team” took the gold medal with a whopping point margin of 44 points per game. The U.S. repeated their victories in 1996 and 2000.
Women’s Olympic Basketball
The first women’s Olympic basketball tournament was held in 1976, and the Soviet Union won five games in a row to win the gold. After that games followed a six-team round-robin format, then expanded into an eight-team format. Finally, in 1996, the women’s Olympic basketball tournament settled into what is now the current 12-team format, in which the United States team has won all tournaments by winning 48 games in a row.
Are You Ready for the 2020 Olympic Basketball Games?
We all know that when it comes to the Olympic games, every country loves to cheer on their players. MadSportsStuff has a large selection American Flag and U.S.A. socks to help you do just that. One of their patriotic designs includes the American Flag Stars and Stripes Crew Socks. This crew length design features stars and stripes just like the American Flag and is perfect for a variety of sports so you can show off your patriotism on and off the field or court.
All of their socks are made with pride right here in the U.S.A. In addition, all of our designs are made with performance materials that are moisture wicking, provide ankle and arch compression to reduce fatigue, offer blister control, are lightweight and breathable, and are infused with antimicrobials to reduce bacteria and odor.
Another patriotic favorite is their USA Flag Basketball Player Crew Socks. This sock features a basketball player silhouette on a distressed flag background, so it is sure to be a hit during the 2020 Olympic basketball games. As with all of our products, these basketball socks are made to be durable and withstand the harshest conditions whether you are a player or a fan of the sport.
What to Expect in 2020
In 2017, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee made an announcement about Olympic basketball. They shared that 3x3 basketball would be part of the summer 2020 games. Both men and women games will take place in Tokyo in 2020 at the Saitama Super Arena.
At Rio in 2016, the Olympic basketball games showed us that even with the U.S. sending “B-Team” quality players, the rest of the world still can’t keep up. Even without players like LeBron James and Steph Curry, the United States still readily took the gold medal by 30 points above Serbia.
Although the U.S. is likely to still have the deepest and best pool of players to pick from, there are still some very talented basketball players around the world. The NBA draft in 2016 is the perfect example of this since 10 of the 16 initial draft picks were born outside of the United States. The United States will be trying for their fourth straight gold medal in 2020, but they may have some serious competition.
Who Are the Top Challengers?
Speculation is that there are four countries that could exhibit some serious talent by the time the 2020 games take place. The following teams are believed to be the biggest threats that the U.S. team could face on their way to the gold.
- France – Tony Parker has been one of the main faces for French basketball for a decade, but he has officially retired from the sport. Speculation is that the next generation of French basketball stars could have even more talent.
- Croatia- Bojan Bogdanovic averages 25.3 points per game, which is more than any of the other player in the Rio Olympics. Speculation is that he has at least one more good run left in him and should help lead Croatia to a successful tournament in 2020.
- Australia – The Aussies barely missed the gold in Rio, and they still have a quality system in place with a good coach, Andrei Lemanis. They still have several veteran players that are expected to return giving the team an advantage in 2020.
- Canada – Although Canada hasn’t even qualified for Olympic basketball since 2000, their young talent base can’t be ignored. Since 2011, there have been at least 10 first-round draft picks from Canada. Although it would take a massive jump for Canada to go from non-qualifying to a top contender, the possibility certainly can’t be ruled out.