PG Sue Bird helped lead USA Basketball to a gold medal at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey. She finished with three assists as USA defeated Spain, 77-64, for the title on Sunday. The Americans also win the automatic berth to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Bird, 33, is the first American to have played in four World Championships. She won gold in 2002 and 2010. Sunday’s third gold medal makes Bird just the third player in FIBA history to have won three gold medals. Bird won a bronze medal in 2006, making her the first player in FIBA history to win four medals overall.
G Nina Poznanskaya and C Skaidrite Smildzina-Budovska of the former USSR won gold medals in 1959, 1964 and 1967.
A total of 11 athletes have three World Championship medals each and the remaining nine are all from the United States. They are F Tamika Catchings, who teamed with Bird in 2002, 2006 and 2010; F DeLisha Milton-Jones and PG Katie Smith were on the USA’s 1998 (gold), 2002 and 2006 teams; C Lisa Leslie and PG Dawn Staley won bronze in 1994 and golds in 1998 and 2002; PG Jennifer Azzi won a gold medal in 1990 and was on the 1994 and 1998 teams; while PG Teresa Edwards and F Katrina McClain won their first gold medal in 1986 and also played on the 1990 and 1994 USA teams.
With the World Championship complete, players are joining their overseas teams for winter basketball play. Bird, who’s played 10 consecutive years in Russia, is unsigned due to new rules in the country. She spoke of truly taking the WNBA offseason off, turning 34 this month.
The WNBA will likely tip its 19th season in May. The Storm holds the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft after a 12-22 season, the selection likely happening in April.