NBCSN’s Olympic Games Week: What to watch on Thursday

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Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and the U.S. women’s basketball dynasty take over NBCSN’s Olympic Games Week on Thursday night.

A marathon of four Olympic finals — 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2016 — starts at 7 p.m. ET. The night is capped with an Olympic film — “More than Gold: Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics” — at 2 a.m.

The U.S. women won their last 49 Olympic contests — a streak that dates to the bronze-medal game at the 1992 Barcelona Games. A seventh straight Olympic title in Tokyo would match the basketball record held by U.S. men’s teams from the first seven Olympic tournaments from 1936-68.

The seeds were planted before the 1996 Atlanta Games. A team was formed in summer 1995 that traveled more than 100,000 miles on a world tour, playing 52 games and winning all of them. That made the eight-game run to gold at the Olympics, all won by double digits, seem a formality.

The WNBA’s inaugural season was the following year.

LIVE STREAM: NBCSN Olympic Games Week — Thursday, 7 p.m.-3 a.m. ET

Lisa Leslie led the U.S. in scoring in 1996, 2000 and 2004. In Sydney, the U.S. played the first of three straight Olympic finals against Australia, which would become the sport’s primary rivalry. The Aussies were no match, even playing at home, as the Americans cruised 76-54. The Australian team featured a 19-year-old Lauren Jackson.

The 2004 Athens Games marked the arrival of Bird and Taurasi, the team’s two youngest players at 23 and 22. It was also the final Olympics for point guard Dawn Staley, who will now coach the Olympic team in Tokyo, likely with Bird and Taurasi as her starting guards. Unlike 1996 and 2000, the U.S. was tested. Notably in a 66-62 semifinal win over Russia.

The 2016 Olympic team won all of its games by at least 19 points, capped by a 101-72 blowout of Spain in the final.

Rio was supposed to be the last Games for Bird and Taurasi, expected to retire from the national team with their college coach, UConn’s Geno Auriemma, stepping down from U.S. coaching duties after the Games. But both returned under Staley and in Tokyo can become the first basketball players to win five Olympic titles.

MORE: USA Basketball career Olympic points leaders

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NBCSN Olympic Games Week — Thursday, April 23

Time (ET) Program Events Live Stream
7 p.m. Olympic Classics Women’s Basketball 1996 Final Stream Link
8:30 p.m. Olympic Classics Women’s Basketball 2000 Final Stream Link
10 p.m. Olympic Classics Women’s Basketball 2004 Final Stream Link
12 a.m. Olympic Classics Women’s Basketball 2016 Final Stream Link
2 a.m. Olympic Films Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics Stream Link

 

Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid
Getty
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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028
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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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