Monday, July 19, 2010

19 July 1964: Basketball Great Teresa Edwards Is Born

On this day in 1964, Teresa Edwards was born in Cairo, Georgia. She would be the oldest of four, the only girl, and one of the greatest basketball athletes in the history of the game. She is a member of six Halls of Fame, is No. 22 on Sports Illustrated's list of 100 Greatest Female Athletes of the 20th Century, and is "the most decorated Olympic basketball player on the planet, male or female, with four gold medals and one bronze medal in five Olympics."

An All-American and state champion as part of Cairo High School's Syrup Maids basketball team, Edwards came to the University of Georgia in 1983 on a basketball scholarship. She was the first member of her family to graduate from college. During her four years playing point guard for Coach Andy Landers, she led the Lady Bulldogs to three Southeastern Conference titles, two Final Fours, and the team had an overall record of 116-7. She averaged 15.5 points per game and 5.1 assists per game, and UGA retired her number (#5) in 1989.

In 1987, there were no professional basketball teams in the United States, so Edwards took her game abroad. Over the next nine years, she played professionally in France, Spain, Italy, Japan, and Russia. She gave up lucrative foreign contracts to play for the U. S. National Team in 1995-1996, where the Women's team went 60-0.

Her Olympic career, spanning 26 years, is nothing less than astonishing. She joined her first U. S. National team in 1983. In the 1984 Los Angeles games, at the age of 20, Edwards earned her first gold medal; in the 2000 Sydney games, at the age of 36, she earned her fourth gold medal. She is both the youngest and oldest women's basketball player to win gold medals.

Edwards is the United States' only five-time Olympic basketball player, and one of three people in the whole world to play basketball in five Olympic games (the other two, men from Australia and Brazil, have no medals to their names). In the 1996 Atlanta games, Edwards was chosen to take the Olympic Oath during Opening Ceremonies; it was her 32nd birthday.

A pioneer of professional women's basketball with the American Basketball League, Edwards wanted a pro league for women that would not be a sideshow to the NBA. However, the WNBA survived while the ABL did not, and Edwards and the WNBA could not settle on terms. She stayed in shape for the Sydney games by practicing daily with ex-NBA players at a gym near her home in Atlanta. She averaged 6.1 points per game and 3.4 assists per game in the 2000 Olympics.

On June 15, 2010, Edwards was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the Grady County Sports Hall of Fame, the Olympic Hall of Fame, the National High School Sports Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and UGA's Circle of Honor. She is currently the athletic representative on the USA Basketball Board of Directors.

Learn More:

No comments:

Post a Comment