*SPOILER ALERT* For the Louisville fan who left the W because wants his sports “politics free…” If you’re still here, look. away. now.
The Olympic Games have never been immune from politics, and they certainly weren’t in 1936, when Berlin was the host city and Hitlersought to present the Third Reich in a flattering light. That the United States thwarted him is largely because of the black athletes who receive their due in Deborah Riley Draper’s deft and comprehensive documentary “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice.” As the movie makes clear, racial politics played a major role, both domestically and abroad.
On to women’s basketball….
Harvey, NY Times: Let LeBron James and Others Bail From Rio. These Women? Not a Chance.
In the run-up to Rio, the athletes getting much of the attention have been those bailing on the Games, making personal judgment calls, committing no ethical crimes.
Now it is time to forget those who are abstaining and to focus on the folks going without fear or complaint. In the cases of Taurasi, Bird and their Olympic teammate Tamika Catchings, it is those who have heard the tales of certain woe and potential mayhem for the last dozen years and responded by asking, When do we leave?
“There’s always something leading up to the Olympics — it’s always something,” Bird said.
Taurasi nodded when reminded of her and Bird’s first Olympics, Athens in 2004. In the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, she said, “There were moments where it was nasty. We’d ask for directions, and they would say, ‘We don’t speak Bush.’”
Yah, she’s going for the gold – but, whoopee! She’s getting married, too! Vogue: Meet the Basketball Star Who’s Poised to Take the Olympic Games by Storm
As the U.S. team heads to Rio in pursuit of its sixth back-to-back gold, all eyes are on Elena Delle Donne.
By the time their daughter was standing two heads above her fellow kindergartners, Elena Delle Donne’s parents knew she was an unusual child, and were not terribly surprised when, aged ten, Elena joined a basketball team and led it to place third in the national championships. Recently voted Most Valuable Player of the Women’s National Basketball Association, Elena is currently poised to lead the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team to collect its sixth consecutive gold in Rio. “She is a once-in-a generation type of player,” says NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. “She’s a Steph Curry.”
Barring a major collapse, the U.S. women’s basketball team should easily win its fifth consecutive Olympic gold in Rio. Despite cutting superstar forward Candace Parker from the roster in a surprising move, Team USA is in as good a position as ever.
You can thank new additions Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner for that. Their additions directly address the few weaknesses on the last Olympic team, and because both are just beginning their primes, they should extend Team USA’s dominance into the future.
Chicago Tribune: Why it still matters when LGBT athletes reveal their sexuality
I thought American society had progressed to the point where a person’s sexual orientation did not matter, and that it wasn’t necessary for professional athletes to say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual. I used to think, who cares?
I could not have been more wrong.
Back in March, I wrote for the first time in the Tribune that I was gay, and I pegged it to a column that criticized the NFL for a culture that still makes a home for homophobia. Then in April, I wrote about the impact using an anti-gay slur, such as the one former Blackhawk Andrew Shaw was suspended for during the Stanley Cup playoffs, can have on people struggling with their sexual identity.
I wasn’t anticipating the reaction I got from those pieces. I received emails and messages on Twitter saying I was going to hell when I die. Some people called me the same anti-gay slur Shaw used, and a handful even threatened physical violence.
Soccer fans at the opening matches of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament chanted homophobic slurs, among other horrible things, at various players on Wednesday. Reports from various sources say the Portuguese term “bicha” was tossed around liberally by fans during the matches; That is similar to the “puto” chants we have heard from fans of Mexico and other Latin American countries.
While some are claiming that the chant was “Zika,” various outlets have reported hearing both “Zika” and “bicha” during the matches.
The Los Angeles Times‘ Kevin Baxter, who is in Brazil covering the Olympics, said that the homophobic slur was aimed at the U.S. Women’s National Team during its 2-0 victory over New Zealand on Wednesday. At least one of the USWNT players — Megan Rapinoe — is gay, as is head coach Jill Ellis. While the “Zika” chants aimed at Hope Solowere bad enough, targeting out LGBT people with anti-gay slurs is the lowest of the low.
SB Nation: The real ‘Dream Team’ has arrived in Rio
Voice of America: US Women’s Basketball Squad Aims for Sixth Straight Gold Medal
Amid concerns about health, security and logistical problems at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the U.S. basketball players are staying afloat — literally.
The U.S. Women’s National Team – the best collection of women’s basketball players on one roster in the world – has arrived in Rio for the Olympics.
This collection of WNBA stars has flown south to dominate, to take home their sixth straight gold medal, a historic run of success matched only by the U.S. Men’s National Basketball Team that stood on the gold medal podium between 1936 and 1968.
Led by three-time gold medalists Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Tamika Catchings, the USA will be overwhelming favorites in Rio.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of interesting questions surrounding this remarkable group of players and their quest.
Spokesman Recorder: WNBA players demonstrate Olympic-class commitment
The 2016 USA Women’s National Team begins its Olympic quest for gold Sunday against Senegal in Rio. Unlike their NBA brethren, some of whom find excuses not to accept the USA Basketball invitation, this isn’t the case as all 12 USA team members are WNBAers who gladly accepted their invites.
“I have been given a great opportunity to be on another Olympic team,” said Lindsay Whalen in an MSR interview before she, along with fellow Lynx teammates Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles, left to join their U.S. teammates to practice and play four exhibition games before leaving for Brazil August 2.
Forty years ago in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, the first U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball team took the court for their second international competition. Led by head coach Billie Jean Moore and co-captains Juliene Simpson and Pat Head (who would go on to become the legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt), the team would exceed all expectations and leave Canada with a silver medal and the world’s respect.
A lot has changed in the 40 years since the first time the USA touted its first women’s basketball team. In 1976, the team wasn’t even expected to qualify for the games; in 2016, the U.S. Women’s team isn’t expected to lose a game.
26 All-Star selections, six WNBA championships, two league MVP awards, and a bevy of other accolades are what the United States’ tri-captains bring to the Olympic fold. But, ahead of all their professional success, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, and Tamika Catchings are all three-time Olympic gold medalists.
These pillars of women’s basketball can join Teresa Edwards and Lisa Leslie as the only professional basketball players to win four gold medals if they capture gold in Rio. Each is well into their 30’s, with Catchings already set on making this season, and in turn gold medal run, her last. Taurasi and Bird, at 34 and 35 respectively, have made a habit of defying the odds throughout their career, but even they would be foolish to think that this isn’t their last shot at Olympic gold.
There are some duos in professional sports who are forever linked. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Venus and Serena Williams. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Misty-May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. These are the athletes whose names are synonymous with one another, eternally carved out side-by-side in the annals of sports history.
For women’s basketball, it’s Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi.
Before the start of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, USA basketball teammates and three-time Olympic gold medalists Bird and Taurasi went out to dinner and discussed the days ahead, and their fourth Olympic journey together.
Seattle Storm/.com: Olympics Preview: Bird and Stewart Going For United States’ Sixth Straight Gold Medal
Women’s basketball at the Olympics begins Saturday, when Storm forward Ramu Tokashiki and Japan take on Belarus. Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and the United States open against Senegal on Sunday. This marks the first time multiple Storm players are on the USA Olympic roster.
Here is everything you need to know about the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
New York Daily News: Team USA women’s basketball: A Rio Olympics viewer’s guide
- Talent aplenty
The Olympics is one of the biggest stages where stars prove their value. In Rio, the list of superstars is almost never-ending. Here are just 10 of the biggest players to follow: Maya Moore (USA), Liz Cambage(Australia), Kia Nurse (Canada), Marine Johannes (France), Shao Ting(China), Lindsey Harding (Belarus), Ramu Tokashiki (Japan), Alba Torrens(Spain), Lara Sanders (Turkey), Astou Traore (Senegal), and Sonja Petrovic (Serbia).
Paul Nilsen: The answers I’m looking for at Rio 2016
While I won’t have the pleasure of being courtside in Rio, I will be glued to the action to find out the answers to some key questions.
Can anyone get near to the USA?
In reality, nobody should get within single digits of them. But even the best teams can have an off-night and it depends who it is against and when. Most people think Australia will be the only threat to their dominance. I think only Serbia have any chance in a one-off game, because they are a team who can explode offensively.
The sun was barely peaking over the Olympic Village on Friday when Canada’s basketball women shuffled out of their beds and into an early-morning practice session.
An hour later, they shuffled back off the court — tired and worn out from yet another scrimmage, and anxious to finally face a real opponent at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I feel like we’re ready to play a game against someone other than ourselves,” said power forward Natalie Achonwa, of Guelph.
Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Mariana Tolo has started a blog: Opening Ceremony Day
Hello and welcome to my blog! This being my first ever Olympics, I was very excited but nervous concerning all the hype about the problems in Rio. The Australian Olympic Committee did a great job being prepared and solving problems to do with our building in the village and prevention of mozzie bites. We have seen quite a few mozzies flying around the busses on the way to training but no one has been bitten yet! We are coating ourselves in Bushman’s repellant.
ESPN, Michelle Smith: Sebnem Kimyacioglu hopes to bring a sense of pride to Turkey in Rio Olympics
After I graduated from Stanford in 2005, I went overseas to play basketball in the Turkish and European leagues and I played there for three years before I hung up my sneakers and returned to the United States to go to law school. I graduated from Santa Clara School of Law, took the California bar exam and I really didn’t think I’d be playing basketball competitively again.
But my Stanford teammate Kristen Newlin and her husband, who coaches basketball in Turkey, were visiting me and we were playing in a pickup game with my law school teammates and he asked me, “Have you thought about playing again?”
A little US history:
The 1996 Olympic team started off a string of five straight gold medals. What’s the relationship between that team and the 2016 Olympic team?
“It was a pivotal Olympics and a pivotal experience for furthering our game. That sort of spirit of togetherness and respect – the respect for wearing your country on your jersey – the team now reflects that too. Some of the players on that team crossed over with some of our players, so across that 20 years, you have players on the 2016 team that played with players on our team. It’s fun to think about the fact that we have that continuity.”
TexasSports.com: In 1988, you and Andrea Lloyd were the first Olympic women’s basketball players from the University of Texas. What was it like to be the first from UT?
Kamie Ethridge: “I think you don’t necessarily think of it in those terms when you’re a player. For my career at Texas and Andrea’s, as well, we were a part of history. We came into a very successful program that Coach [Jody] Conradt had built. We had a chance to compete for national championships in all four years, winning one in 1986. For us, it was a natural progression. When you play for one of the best teams in the country, it puts you in a position to be one of the best players in the country and represent your country. Every summer, I had the opportunity to do that in some form or fashion. The Olympics were the culmination of a four-year career of being part of USA Basketball. Because of Texas, many of us had the opportunity to further our careers with USA Basketball. We had one of the best programs in the country and Texas was the building block that gave us a chance to represent our country.”
Some general stuff…
Prince Albert II of Monaco was born into wealth. His father was Prince Rainer III; his mother was American actress Grace Kelly. Albert’s net worth has been estimated to exceed $1 billion. And while he definitely does not need the cash, thanks to the International Olympic Committee’s generous perks package, Prince Albert could actually collect more money while he watches the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this month than many Team USA athletes will get paid to compete in the Summer Games.
A Washington Post examination of the Olympic Movement published last week showed how, for the most part, being a bureaucrat who helps run the Olympics is far more lucrative than being a world-class athlete competing in the Olympics.
We’ve seen this in so many sports … Indy Star: A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases
Top executives at one of America’s most prominent Olympic organizations failed to alert authorities to many allegations of sexual abuse by coaches — relying on a policy that enabled predators to abuse gymnasts long after USA Gymnastics had received warnings.
An IndyStar investigation uncovered multiple examples of children suffering the consequences, including a Georgia case in which a coach preyed on young female athletes for seven years after USA Gymnastics dismissed the first of four warnings about him.
In a 2013 lawsuit filed by one of that coach’s victims, two former USA Gymnastics officials admitted under oath that the organization routinely dismissed sexual abuse allegations as hearsay unless they came directly from a victim or victim’s parent.
Zip back to some stuff on US soil: 30 Rock: Celebrating The WNBA’s 30-Point Evolution
During the WNBA’s 20th season, 30 has become the league’s most prominent number. Nothing better reflects the WNBA’s evolution than the 25 30-point games entering the Olympic Break. It’s evidence of many things, from offenses becoming more innovative to scorers now coming in many styles and sizes. Like the NBA, uptempo attacks have become the W’s staple. Size literally doesn’t matter, considering three-point specialists can dominate just as effectively as traditional low-post bruisers.
So what, besides players evolving, has changed around the WNBA? For one, the shot clock now resets to from 24 to 14 seconds on offensive rebounds, speeding up the game and adding possessions, an element Washington coach Mike Thibault’s approved of.