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Atlanta 1996 Olympic women’s basketball team: Where are they now

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The 1996 U.S. women’s basketball team continues to have an impact on the game at all levels, sparking the launch of two professional leagues, and inspiring players at the college and high school levels. Here’s a look at the players on the team, their contributions and where they are now:

JENNIFER AZZI

5-8 guard

CONTRIBUTION: Backup point guard

BIG MOMENT: 18 points, 3 assists, 3 steals in win over Congo in group play

BEST MEMORY: “To be in the Ukraine, you see a lot of the world and how a lot of the world struggles, that people in other countries – if you’ve never been out of the country – you go to some third-world places and you see they don’t have anything close.”

NOW: Head women’s basketball coach of the San Francisco Dons

SHE SAID IT: “It was a great experience. Any national team experience I’ve ever had has been incredible, and then to play for Tara that Olympic year, we were together for 18 months because our team in `94 were bronze medalists and so they wanted to keep us together. That actually became the platform for the WNBA, which is pretty incredible.”

RUTHIE BOLTON

5-8 guard

CONTRIBUTION: Started all eight games in the Olympic tournament

BIG MOMENT: Shut down Brazilian guard Paula in the gold medal game

BEST MEMORY: Going into the stands at the medal ceremony and putting her gold medal around the neck of her sister, Mae Ola. “It was extremely special. I knew her journey and her drive always was to play in the Olympics. It was unfair when I made it, and she didn’t. I said when we win the gold medal, I was going to share that experience with her.”

NOW: The mother of two children, 4 and 6, in Sacramento, California, Bolton is a motivational speaker who also is discussing domestic violence. She’s the subject of an SEC Storied documentary that aired in May and working on two books, one for teenagers. She also is helping develop a curriculum for group home for teens who’ve been victims of sex trafficking.

SHE SAID IT: “It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when you stand on that podium and you see that gold medal on behalf of the United States of America, on behalf of your family, on behalf of your city, on behalf of your state. A humble experience, it’s something you always played for, and it’s hard to let it go.”

TERESA EDWARDS

5-11 guard

CONTRIBUTION: Leadership; she was the first U.S. basketball player to compete in four Olympics

BIG MOMENT: Taking the competitors’ oath at the opening ceremony on her birthday.

BEST MEMORY: “I’m screaming and crying with Muhammad Ali and then I’m up there reciting the Olympic oath. So it was a big time in my life. I don’t know if I’ve ever been that hyped.”

NOW: Edwards, who splits her time between New York and Atlanta, is planning summer camps with Katrina McClain and making appearances. She also wants to check out life after 50 without basketball.

SHE SAID IT: “No matter how far I’ll run, I’ll never be able to get away too far (from basketball). It always reaches to pull me back in.”

LISA LESLIE

6-5 center/forward

CONTRIBUTION: Started all eight games in the Olympic tournament

BIG MOMENT: Set USA Olympic single-game record scoring 35 points against Japan in the quarterfinals.

BEST MEMORY: “We were down by about one point playing against Australia. Coach calls a timeout and tells them, `Look, you’re going to get the ball inside to Lisa,’ like they should, `You’re going to get the ball inside’ and that was going to be the end of the game right? We get out of the huddle, Dawn says, `Big girl. Look, they’re going to double-team you. I got you. I got you a 3 up at the top.’ Well, you know what happened. They throw me the ball, double team comes. I knock it over to Dawn. Of course, you know the rest is history. She knocks down the 3-ball.”

NOW: Leslie is TV analyst, co-host of “We Need to Talk,” a motivational speaker, married with two children.

SHE SAID IT: “Understand and learn the history of our game because it’s a precious history. Those of us who’ve played, and now that we’re moving on and this new generation is coming in, you guys have to understand … we’re a basketball family and we all represent each other.”

REBECCA LOBO

6-4 center/forward

CONTRIBUTION: Backup center/forward

BIG MOMENT: 8 points, 6 rebounds in opener vs. Cuba.

BEST MEMORY: “Being on the podium and getting the medal around your neck it’s just what you always expected it would be with the hair standing up on the back of your neck. … It was a sense of accomplishment but also relief and finality.”

NOW: Commentator for ESPN.

SHE SAID IT: “The funniest memory. Gymnastics was on the other side of that curtain. We literally would come out of the locker room to warm up as the gymnasts were coming by and they’d be giving us high fives and we’d be giving them low fives. I wish there had been a camera to watch. We’re all the same species but we didn’t look it. All these tiny petite but strong women are passing us. It was a visual that at the time I was thinking was very hilarious. I wish people could see this.”

KATRINA McCLAIN

6-2 forward

CONTRIBUTION: Started all eight games in the Olympic tournament with three double-doubles

BIG MOMENT: Scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 96-79 win over Australia in group play

BEST MEMORY: That long tour before the Olympics. “It’s kind of hard because we just weren’t used to that. I hated that we had to be together for so long. It worked … We were like family. We hated each other some days, and then there were days we just couldn’t stand being away from each other. It really worked out well.”

NOW: The mother of three, McClain lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where she works with her foundation to help at-risk youth with obesity and through reading programs. She also is a volunteer coach.

SHE SAID IT: “We played with a lot of heart and we just played for the passion of the game. That has really opened doors and paved ways for today’s game. Yeah, they have a lot of talent today, but man, the talent back them to me, in my opinion, was just off the chain.”

NIKKI McCRAY

5-11 guard

CONTRIBUTION: backup guard

BIG MOMENT: Nearly had a double-double against South Korea with 16 points and nine rebounds

BEST MEMORY: The gold medal game. “That game was so powerful and so special to play against Brazil. They had Hortencia (Marcari) who was one of the greatest women basketball players ever and just to see America come together and really embrace our team and all the fans that we had and our families. I think it was in the Georgia Dome, and it was packed. It was an unbelievable night to witness that and to be a part of it.”

NOW: Assistant women’s basketball coach at South Carolina

SHE SAID IT: “We were on a mission. We trained for a year and half together. That was the first time USA Basketball had ever put a group of women together, and we were on a mission. We were machines. Credit Tara VanDerveer and her staff for just getting us ready, and we were unstoppable. To go 60-0? That’s never been done before, and we were not going to fall short of winning the gold medal and to win it was truly remarkable.”

CARLA McGHEE

6-2 center/forward

CONTRIBUTION: backup center/forward

BIG MOMENT: Scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots in a win over Congo

BEST MEMORY: Thinking she had been pranked by her Olympic teammates when called to help with the Olympic torch ceremony at the White House, McGhee called President Bill Clinton by his first name. Alerted the call was for real, McGhee scrambled to Washington D.C., where she apologized to the president. “Right before the Olympic Games, he gave us a speech. He’s like, `My girl Carla over there, we’re on a first name basis.’ That was probably one of my most memorable times on the Olympic team just talking like the president was a plain old average joe.”

NOW: McGhee lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, where her son graduates high school in May. She runs More to Hoopz with basketball training, clinics and camps. She also consults with athletes and parents on recruiting. She has a contract with the city of Alpharetta to run children’s sports classes.

SHE SAID IT: “It was just the ultimate ride of a life.”

DAWN STALEY

5-6 guard

CONTRIBUTION: backup guard

BIG MOMENT: Nine points and three assists in gold medal game vs Brazil

BEST MEMORY: “I take away just friendships, of sisterhood, sisters that I can call on any day, any moment any time during the day and we can go back to that place where we had each other’s back and it didn’t just, it just wasn’t on the court. It was off the court.”

NOW: Head women’s basketball coach at South Carolina

SHE SAID IT: “We knew what was at stake. We knew there was a WNBA in waiting, there was the ABL in waiting. It was all depending on how successful we were as a team. And we also wanted to show America, our nation, that women playing at the peaks of their careers was truly something special.”

KATY STEDING

6-0 small forward

CONTRIBUTION: Swoopes’ backup

BIG MOMENT: Scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in win over Cuba, final game in group play

BEST MEMORY: “We were in China, Jennifer looked around and said, `Oh my God! We’re all in the same room.’ It was kind of like that moment we realized we kind of came together from lots of different areas, age groups and everything to bring that team together. I don’t know there was a watershed moment or anything like that but, `Hey we’re a team!”‘

NOW: Head women’s basketball coach at Boston University

SHE SAID IT: “It’s really special whenever we’re in the same place at the same time.”

SHERYL SWOOPES

6-0 forward

CONTRIBUTION: Started all eight games in the Olympic tournament

BIG MOMENT: Scored 16 points, grabbed three rebounds, handed out five assists and had a steal in gold medal game

BEST MEMORY: Training together before the games. “It was a grueling time for all of us. Everybody had moments where they were like, `This is too much, and I just don’t want to do that.’ We all made those sacrifices and thank God we did because that team to me in my eyes will forever be a very special team that did some incredible things.”

NOW: Elected to Naismith Hall of Fame in April, Swoopes coaches Loyola, Chicago. She is helping her mother through treatment for colon cancer and plans to work with the Kay Yow Fund in the future.

SHE SAID IT: “When I look at Lisa and Dawn, Teresa Edwards, when I look at Katrina McClain that are already in the hall and I had an opportunity to play with them as well, I definitely feel blessed to have had an opportunity to have played with some of the best in the world to ever play the game.”

VENUS LACY

6-foot-4 reserve forward

CONTRIBUTION: Experience, significant inside presence

BIG MOMENT: 13 points, 7 rebounds in win over Congo in group play

BEST MEMORY Before the gold medal game when Lisa Leslie was nervous. “I don’t know if she’d remember. She was nervous, and I asked her `Why are you nervous? You’re going to do fine Lisa.’ She was so nervous, and she went out there and she played her game. I have never been so proud of a player that I have played with on any team.”

NOW: Lacy lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with 13-year-old son and works in AAU basketball and is re-starting her Venus Lacy Foundation.

SHE SAID IT: “I wasn’t going to try out for the team at all because of what happened in `92. It made me happy they reached out to me and asked me to come along and help them. … I’m just so grateful and thank them for giving me my opportunity.”

TARA VANDERVEER

Coach

CONTRIBUTION: Gave up year at Stanford to coach national team to 60-0 record

BIG MOMENT: Finishing with gold medal

BEST MEMORY: “I learned a lot. I worked with, again, players Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Ruthie Bolton, Sheryl Swoopes, Teresa Edwards, Katrina McClain. I worked with the best female basketball players ever. I don’t know that there’s really any team that’s been more successful or that it’s been more demanding the travel, the practice, the commitment that Rebecca Lobo had to make. It was a tremendous commitment. It was a dedication to winning that gold medal.

NOW: Head women’s basketball coach at Stanford

SHE SAID IT: “It was a magical year. Although I don’t know that our players would say that. It was really a fantastic trip. I loved the whole experience.”

MORE: Auriemma would not have returned without Bird, Taurasi

Regan Smith swims another historic backstroke time at Pro Series meet

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Regan Smith, who last summer broke both backstroke world records, put up the fastest 100m back in history outside of a major international meet or trials competition on Saturday.

Smith, a 17-year-old Minnesota high school senior, clocked 58.26 seconds to win at a Pro Series meet in Knoxville, Tenn. It tied for the 12th-fastest time in history. None of the other fastest dozen came in January, six months out from when swimmers peak for the world’s biggest events like the Olympics.

Making it more impressive: Smith did it 27 minutes after finishing second in the 200m butterfly, which she’s also expected to contest at June’s Olympic trials in Omaha.

“It actually wasn’t as bad, as I was nervous it was going to be,” Smith, whose world record is 57.57, said of the double on NBCSN. Smith entered two events per day at the three-day Knoxville meet, in part to prepare for the trials, where she is slated to race six straight days in a bid to make the Olympic team in enough events to swim eight straight days in Tokyo.

On Saturday, Smith held off fellow 17-year-old Phoebe Bacon by six tenths. Bacon beat Smith at the U.S. Open in December, posting the second-fastest time among Americans in the event for 2019.

The teen emergence puts pressure on Kathleen Baker, the Rio Olympic silver medalist who had the world record before Smith took it at worlds.

Full Knoxville results are here. USASwimming.org live streams the last night of finals Sunday at 6:30 ET.

In other events Saturday, world silver medalist Hali Flickinger overcame Smith in the 200m fly, winning in 2:08.34. Smith, third-fastest among Americans last season, was .39 behind. The second-fastest American last year, Katie Drabot, was not in the field. The top two at trials make the Olympic team.

Erika Brown beat world champion Simone Manuel in a freestyle sprint for a second straight meet, taking the 50m free in 24.57 seconds.

Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, edged Manuel by .06 and took .01 off her personal best. Brown ranked third among Americans last year behind Manuel (24.05) and Abbey Weitzeil (24.47).

Brown also defeated Manuel in the 100m free at the U.S. Open in December, moving to fourth-fastest in the U.S. last year in that event. The top six in the 100m free at trials are in line to make the Olympic team, given relay spots.

MORE: Australian swim star issues plea after hometown hit by fires

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Mikaela Shiffrin nearly makes it three-way tie for World Cup win

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Mikaela Shiffrin came .01 shy of making it a three-way tie for a World Cup giant slalom win on Saturday, confirming GS has been the most up-for-grabs discipline for either gender in recent years.

Shiffrin, beaten in her last two slaloms, had the fastest second run to place third behind co-winners Italian Federica Brignone and Slovakian Petra Vlhova in Sestriere, Italy. The reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the GS rallied from fourth place and .42 behind after the first run.

Shiffrin still leads the World Cup overall standings by 233 points over Vlhova. The American last won Dec. 29. Though she made the podium in three of her four races since, Shiffrin expressed a lack of confidence heading into this weekend’s races at the 2006 Olympic venue.

“The most exciting thing for me is that people have stopped asking me, like, are you unbeatable?” said Shiffrin, who won a record 17 World Cup races last season and has four victories nearly halfway through this season, tied with Vlhova for most on tour. “I feel really good in GS. It’s just been a long time since [the last GS on Dec. 28].”

Vlhova earned her third victory this month after beating Shiffrin those last two slaloms. Brignone leads the GS season standings by 61 points over Shiffrin, seeking to become the sixth different woman to win that discipline title in the last six years. There are four more GS races left this season.

It’s the second straight season with a World Cup GS tie. Last Feb. 1, Shiffrin and Vlhova tied in Maribor, Slovenia.

It’s the first time the top three finishers were separated by such a small margin since the last three-way tie for a win in 2006, when Lindsey VonnMichaela Dorfmeister and Nadia Styger had the same super-G time, and fourth-place Kelly VanderBeek was .01 behind.

“Last season, I had the lucky side of the hundredths many times, so sometimes I’m not going to be on the lucky side, too,” said Shiffrin, who had three victories by .16 or tighter last season.

World Cup racing continues with a parallel giant slalom on Sunday at 5:45 a.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBC Sports Gold.

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MORE: Shiffrin among 10 dominant Winter Olympians of 2010s decade