Baseball might be known as "America's pastime," but basketball is truly the sport the U.S. dominates in international play. The United States men's basketball team has won medals in all 18 Olympics that they've competed in, taking home 15 golds.
In 1988, our final "amateur" team—which featured future NBA players Dan Majerle, Stacey Augmon, Danny Manning, J.R. Reid, Mitch Richmond, Charles Smith and David Robinson—shockingly lost to Russia in the semifinals and wound up winning the bronze medal, the worst finish ever for the U.S. team in International play at the time.
In April of 1989, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) amended the rules stating that NBA players were not allowed to play in the Olympics, giving way to the 1992 "Dream Team" that featured 11 eventual Hall of Famers including Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing.
That squad, thought of as the greatest sports team ever assembled, famously dominated their opponents by an average of 44 points en route to winning the gold medal against Croatia.
The 1996 and 2000 teams also won the gold. But after disappointing showings in the 2002 World Championships (6th place) and the 2004 Olympics (bronze medal), stars such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony announced their commitment to play in the 2006 World Championships and the 2008 Olympics, where they would be nicknamed the "Redeem Team." In Beijing, they went 8-0 and brought the gold medal back to the United States, beating Spain 118-107 in the final game.
The 2012 and 2016 teams also captured the gold, sending the 2021 squad to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics as winners of six of the last seven games. Will they again step up on the international stage and make it seven out of eight? They are strong favorites, currently sitting at -305 to win the gold at Draft Kings, with Serbia and Spain their closest competition both at +800.
Trading cards and collectibles that feature these gold medal teams remain extremely popular in the hobby. With the upcoming Tokyo Olympics set to kick off in late July, will memories and nostalgia drive prices up? That remains to be seen. However, while these stars typically play for a team that represents just one city, every four years for just a few weeks, the entire country roots for them. As you'll see from the list below, there are some really cool USA Basketball cards out there that can be found on eBay if you're feeling patriotic!