Lynx stars Fowles, Collier earn spots on U.S. Olympic basketball team

Three basketball players reach for the ball under the net.
Sylvia Fowles (No. 34) of the Minnesota Lynx shoots the ball against Nneka Ogwumike (No. 30) and Candace Parker (No. 3) of the Los Angeles Sparks during Game 2 of the 2017 WNBA Finals at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Fowles is headed to her fourth Olympics.
Hannah Foslien | Getty Images 2017

Updated: July 13, 12:35 p.m. | Posted: June 21, 8:47 a.m.

Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will try and become the first five-time Olympic gold medalists in basketball as they lead the U.S women's team at the Tokyo Games.

The duo was selected for their fifth Olympics on Monday, joining Teresa Edwards as the only basketball players in U.S. history to play in five. Edwards won four gold medals and a bronze in her illustrious Olympic career.

There have been five international basketball players to play in five Olympics: Spain's Juan Carlos Navarro, Brazil's Adriana Moises Pinto and Oscar Schmidt, Australia's Andrew Gaze and Puerto Rico's Teofilo Cruz.

The 40-year-old Bird and 39-year-old Taurasi will lead a veteran group in Japan, including 6-foot-6 Sylvia Fowles, who will be playing in her fourth Olympics. Tina Charles will be in her third while 6-8 Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart are back for a second time.

There will also be six newcomers to the Olympic stage led by reigning WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson. The Las Vegas Aces star helped the U.S. win the World Championship in 2018 in Spain. Others making their Olympic debuts are Skylar Diggins-Smith, Chelsea Gray, Ariel Atkins, Jewell Loyd and the Lynx’s Napheesa Collier.

Two women hold up four fingers while wearing gold medals.
Diana Taurasi (left) and Sue Bird pose with their gold medals at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics. They'll try for their fifth gold medals in Tokyo.
Andrej Isakovic | AFP via Getty Images 2016

"USA Basketball has never been in a better place," said U.S. head coach Dawn Staley, who won three Olympic gold medals as a player and helped the team win two more as an assistant coach. "I'm honored to be the coach of such an amazing collection of talented women, both those named to the team and those who gave their all the last few years but won't be with us in Tokyo."

The Americans have won the last six consecutive gold medals, not dropping a game at the Olympics since 1992. They are the heavy favorites to win again. The Americans are in a pool with France, Japan and Nigeria, which the U.S. opens up against on July 27. The Americans face Japan on July 30 and France on Aug. 2.

The U.S. team will get together in Las Vegas in July to train for a week as well as play an All-Star Game against a selection of WNBA players. The Americans will also play games against Australia and Nigeria.

Carleton to play for Canada

The Lynx’s Bridget Carleton is also headed to Tokyo, representing Team Canada.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.