1996 US Women’s basketball team: What to know before watching ESPN’s documentary

The 1996 US Women's Basketball Team
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The 1996 US Women’s basketball team is finally getting the spotlight it deserves.

As the WNBA enters its 25th year of existence, ESPN is releasing a special “30 for 30” 3-part documentary highlighting the 1996 Women’s Olympic basketball team titled “Dream On.” The series will give viewers a never before seen look at the 11 women that made up the ‘96 Dream Team, including interviews that have never aired before. 

How to Watch

  • Date: Wednesday, June 15th 
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • Channel: ESPN


However, there are some things that viewers should know about the team before watching the documentary. 

The Players

Trials to be a part of the women’s Olympic basketball team were held in Colorado Springs, Colorado a year before the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The seven-day open trials brought in the top players from women’s college basketball in the 1990s. At the end of the trials, 11 women were selected to make up the dream team.

Guards: Jennifer Azzi, Ruthie Bolton, Teresa Edwards, Nikki McCray, Dawn Staley; Forwards: Rebecca Lobo, Katy Steding, Sheryl Swoopes, Katrina McClain; Centers: Lisa Leslie and Carla McGhee. Head Coach: Tara VanDerveer

Since each woman was coming from different walks of life, the task of not only playing well but taking home the gold in the ‘96 Summer Olympics was not an easy one. In order to help ensure success before playing in the Olympic Games, the team played in a series of games in Europe and the United States. 


Undefeated Record

Aside from being tasked with winning gold in the ‘96 Olympics, the Dream Team was also expected to dominate in every game that they played. Prior to the summer games, the team went on to play a total of 52 games, winning each of them before going into the Olympics.

The Dream Team went on to win all eight of their matches played in the summer games, bringing their record to 60-0. 


Creation of the WNBA

During the time the 1996 US Women’s Basketball team was forming, the NBA was looking at the possibility of creating a professional women’s basketball team. However, the league was looking for a way to draw a similar type of attention that an NBA game would.

On the heels of finishing the Olympics with an undefeated record and growing a fanbase for women’s basketball throughout the nation, the NBA decided to launch the WNBA.



With 12 active teams and 25 years of existence, the WNBA is still making an impact in its own way.

With players like New York Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu, who now holds the record for most triple-doubles, to Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner, still wrongfully held in Russian custody, the WNBA is in the headlines in ways that had normally been reserved for NBA players and teams.

As the league continues to get the recognition and respect they truly deserve, it’s important to remember that, if weren’t for the 11 women tasked with being the greatest force in women’s basketball, there’s no telling where the WNBA would be today. 

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1996 US Women's Basketball paved the way for the WNBA
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