Tina Charles, a member of the last three U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams that won gold medals, ceded her spot on the national team, at least for now, to the next generation of players.
Charles, who led the WNBA in scoring in 2021, was among the veteran stars who weren’t on the 28-player training camp roster that will vie for spots on the team for next month’s FIBA World Cup.
Most of the absences were expected: Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles are retiring. Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury earlier this summer and, at age 40, is no guarantee to play internationally again. Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17 with U.S. officials hoping to bring her home in a prisoner swap.
Charles, a 33-year-old center for the Seattle Storm, was arguably the most accomplished missing name that came as a surprise.
“I served my time,” Charles told Alex Azzi of On Her Turf on Wednesday. “I served my country since 2009. I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity. I always told them if they ever need me, please reach out, but I think with this future young crop that’s coming up, not knowing where I’m at in the next couple of years, I just felt it’s time to give the position there. But again, they have my phone number. They have my email. If it’s ever an emergency, I’m willing and ready to serve my country. But right now, the option is mine. I think it’s good for this future crop.”
Charles played on every Olympic and World Cup team dating to 2010, when she was the WNBA No. 1 overall draft pick out of Connecticut. She has never lost a game in a USA uniform at a global championship (unlike Bird and Taurasi).
She started six of eight games in her Olympic debut in 2012 and all eight games in 2016. Last year, she came off the bench in all six Olympic games.
The younger crop of bigs that Charles mentioned shined in Tokyo. For the first time in decades, the top three U.S. scorers were all bigs: A’ja Wilson (26 years old), Griner (31) and Breanna Stewart (27). The lone collegian on the World Cup camp roster, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, is also a frontcourt player.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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