Dawn Staley Honored As 2004 USA Basketball Female Athlete Of The Year

By Off The BASN Sports Wire
Updated: December 30, 2004

Dawn Staley
Dawn Staley

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Three-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley of the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting was named by USA Basketball as its 2004 Female Athlete of the Year.

Staley, the team captain who was also honored as the U.S. Olympic Team flag bearer for the 2004 Olympic Opening Ceremony, helped lead the 2004 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team to the USA’s third consecutive gold medal in Athens.

“This year has been incredible for me,” said Staley. “To win the Female Athlete of the Year award from USA Basketball is special for me because USA Basketball has been such a great part of my life. It gives me so much pride.

“This is special because I know it was done the right way. I don’t play to get awards like this, but certainly somebody saw my contributions as something special. When people see me that way, I am honored. I truly am.”

“Dawn Staley has been a great ambassador for USA Basketball for over 15 years,” said USA Basketball Executive Director Jim Tooley. “In Athens, she once again displayed her leadership, both on and off the court, which was invaluable as the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team earned gold for the third consecutive Olympics.

“A real testament to her character and the respect she has among her peers was shown when she was selected as the 2004 U.S. flag bearer for the opening ceremony. She is a class act.”

In capturing her second Athlete of the Year honor after first earning it a decade ago, Staley not only is eligible for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Female Athlete of the Year Award which will be announced by theUSOC at a later date, but she also enters into impressive company of previous multiple USA Basketball honorees.

In its 25th year, the USA Basketball Athlete of the Year award has been garnered four times by Teresa Edwards (1987, 1990, 1996, 2000), three times by Lisa Leslie (1993, 1998, 2002), and twice by Katrina McClain (1988, 1992) and Cheryl Miller (1984, 1986).

Capping an illustrious international basketball career with her third Olympic gold medal, Staley first competed for USA Basketball as a member of the 1989 USA Junior World Championship Team and through the years USA teams with Staley on the roster have posted an amazing 197-10 record (.952 winning percentage).

She has been a key in numerous successes for her country and has amassed a total of 10 gold medals and one bronze on the world stage.

In addition to the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic golds, Staley was on hand as the U.S. captured the last two FIBA World Championship golds (1998 and 2002), while also helping the red, white and blue earn gold at the 1999 U.S. Olympic Cup, 1994 Goodwill Games, 1993 World Championship Qualifying Tournament, 1992 R. William Jones Cup and 1991 World University Games.

Her bronze medal came as the U.S. rebounded from a heartbreaking semifinal loss in the 1994 FIBA World Championship to return home with the bronze medal.

At the 2004 Olympics the 34-year-old passed off for a team best 23 assists, while averaging 4.1 ppg. A true floor general, Staley ran the USA’s offense to near perfection and looked for the open pass before the open shot.

However, when her team needed her to score, she did just that. In the gold medal game against Australia, which was a close affair late into the game, Staley notched all of her 14 points in the second half, including six points in a span of 1:20 that helped put the game away for the United States. The U.S. went on to earn the 74-63 victory and the gold medal and Staley exited the international stage in a blaze of glory.

“I’m really proud for Dawn Staley,” said Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor, who coached Staley at the 2004 Olympics and 2002 FIBA World Championship.

“That is so good because sometimes when you play the point guard position on a basketball team, you don’t get the proper recognition. But there’s no doubt, in the gold medal game if she doesn’t step up in the second half and make some big time baskets, I don’t know if we would have won the gold medal. I don’t know of anyone who is more deserving than she is.”

“It’s great to have your Olympic coach say those things about you,” said Staley.

“But certainly I know why I was put on the team. The fact that I was coming in as one of three players (Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes) with the most experience, one of three players with the most understanding of the situation calls for, I would not have been doing my part if I let this team fail”.

“To let this team fail would have meant letting our coaching staff fail. I didn’t want to be a part of that. I was going to do everything I could to ensure our success. Whether that was scoring, passing, or talking and cheering, I was going to do my part.”

Some of her international highlights include being a member of the historic 1995-96 USA Basketball Women’s National Team that rolled up a 60-0 record, captured the 1996 Olympic gold medal, and was named the 1996 USA Basketball and U.S. Olympic Committee Team of the Year.

She was named the 1994 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year and earned 1994 Goodwill Games MVP honors after leading the U.S. toa gold medal in that event.

In 1998, after winning the FIBA World Championship with a perfect 9-0 record, the USA squad was named the 1998 USA Basketball Team of the Year. The 2002 USA World Championship Team not only mirrored the 9-0 record, it was also named the 2002 USA Basketball Team of the Year.