Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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U.S. men’s basketball team to prep for FIBA World Cup with No. 1 Spain, Doncic’s Slovenia

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The U.S. men’s basketball team will play in a tournament with top-ranked Spain and Slovenia, possibly with Luka Doncic, in mid-August, two weeks before this summer’s FIBA World Cup.

The three nations make up a tournament in Málaga from Aug. 11-13 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Spanish basketball federation.

It should be a key test for the U.S., which won its fourth consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, but lost an Olympic game for the first time since 2004 (to France in group play). The U.S. is expected to qualify for the World Cup next month.

At the last men’s World Cup in 2019, the U.S. lost twice and finished seventh overall, its worst major tournament result ever. That team had just two reigning NBA All-Stars and one player with Olympic experience.

New coach Steve Kerr will hope for a better turnout from the NBA’s best this summer for the World Cup co-hosted by the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, a month before NBA preseason training camps.

This past November, the U.S. men dropped out of the No. 1 spot in FIBA’s world rankings for the first time since 2010. Spain, coming off a European title, displaced the U.S. by a slim margin. The U.S. beat Spain in the Tokyo Olympic quarterfinals.

Doncic led Slovenia to its first Olympic basketball berth in 2021. Slovenia, with a population of 2.1 million, became the smallest nation by current population to participate in an Olympic men’s basketball tournament since Estonia and Latvia in 1936.

The Slovenians beat Argentina and Spain in Olympic group play, then lost in the semifinals to France and the bronze-medal game to Australia.

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Billie Moore, first U.S. Olympic women’s basketball coach, dies at 79

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Billie Moore, who coached the first U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team to silver in 1976, died at age 79.

Moore died of complications from a lengthy battle with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, according to UCLA, where she coached from 1977-93.

While coaching Cal State Fullerton, Moore was an assistant coach for the U.S. national team in the early 1970s and then elevated to head coach for women’s basketball’s Olympic debut in Montreal in 1976.

Moore led a team that included future Basketball Hall of Famers Lusia Harris, Pat Summitt (then Pat Head), Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers to a 3-2 record in a round-robin tournament. The Soviet Union took gold ahead of the U.S. with a 5-0 record, extending its undefeated run in major international play dating to 1958.

Moore left Fullerton for UCLA in 1977. She won the national title in her first season at each school, becoming the first coach to lead two different women’s teams to national championships.

She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.