Basketball & Race, Olympics

In the last 20 years, there’s only been two Caucasian players on the U.S. Mens Olympic Basketball Team

2016 Olympic USA Mens Basketball Team roster

Let’s first say that it’s not a big deal that there has only been two Caucasian players in the last 20 years, but it might be surprising to some as it was to me. Somewhat of an odd and potentially provocative factoid, I know, but there it is.

What got me researching past rosters was when I recently looked over the 2016 roster representing the United States in Rio and noticed that the team didn’t include one Caucasian player (Klay Thompson is mixed African-American and Caucasian).

After seeing this, I thought to myself “Was this the first time that the US Men’s Olympic Basketball Team didn’t have a white player?” Nothing more than curious, I promise you.

Again, keep in mind that I follow Olympic basketball pretty closely and have since the 1992 Dream Team suited up and kicked the world’s collective behinds. It turns out that this composition wasn’t so uncommon, just bad memory on my part. Including the 1996 Games in Atlanta, only two Caucasian players have suited up over the six Olympics from 1996-2016 with the 2000 Olympic basketball team being the first without at least one white player.

It was bound to happen, as the National Basketball Association is predominantly African American according to the 2015 Racial and Gender Report Card for the NBA. The NBA in 2015 was composed of 74.4 percent black players, 23.3 percent white players, 1.8 percent Latino players, and 0.2 percent Asian players. These were self-reported numbers. With nearly three quarters of the league being Black players, the odds are higher that a team (All-Star, Olympic, First Team All-NBA) would be comprised of mostly or all Black players.

(Any guess who the 0.2 percent Asian player was?)

So looking at the data, the majority of the USA Olympic team has been comprised of African-American players, 70 of the 72 roster spots in Atlanta (1996), 2000 (Sydney), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) London (2012) and Rio De Janiero (2016) self-identified as African American or mixed race.

Those two Caucasian players? John Stockton suited up again after the 1992 Games for the 1996 Atlanta games and Kevin Love represented the United States in 2012.


Leave a Comment