10 NBA Players Who Had Career Seasons After the Summer Olympics
For many NBA players, the privilege of playing in the Summer Olympics has been a boon to their careers.
Rather than experiencing game-affecting fatigue after playing under the Olympic world stage, several NBA players returned to their city teams in the fall in excellent game shape and with a team first mentality.
The following slideshow highlights the performances of 10 NBA stars during the NBA regular seasons directly after stints on the U.S. Olympic team. With the exception of Tim Duncan, each player on this list played at least 75 regular season games following their medal wins at the Olympics.
Charles Barkley: 1992 Gold Medalist
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Charles Barkley surprised the world when he emerged as the 1992 Olympic Team's leading scorer at 19 points per game. He then proceeded to attain two first time accomplishments during his inaugural season with the Phoenix Suns: an MVP award and an NBA Finals berth.
Barkley averaged 25.6 points and 12.2 points during the 1992-93 regular season. His assists total improved by one a game, and he had a seven-year high in defensive win shares.
Karl Malone: 1996 Gold Medalist
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At 33 years old, Malone delivered a solid eight points per game for the 1996 U.S. Olympic team.
Malone went on in the NBA regular season to win his first MVP award for the Utah Jazz. He averaged 27.4 points and 9.9 rebounds a game. Malone also had a career low in turnovers at 2.6 a game.
His Utah Jazz squad advanced to the NBA Finals that year, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games.
Scottie Pippen: 1996 Gold Medalist
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Pippen was a torrid all-around force in the 1996 Olympics. Playing point forward, Pippen averaged nine points, six assists, and three steals a game for the Olympic team.
The Olympics proved to be a terrific warm-up for the then 31-year-old Pippen. Pippen went on to win his fifth championship ring for the Chicago Bulls in 1996-97. He averaged 20.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.9 steals during the Bulls' regular season campaign.
Vince Carter: 2000 Gold Medalist
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While Carter's "dunk heard around the world" over 7'2" Frenchman Frederic Weis's head was his defining moment in the 2000 Olympics, Carter's versatility on offense was on full display during the event. He averaged 14.8 points per game and scored in double-digits in all eight of the U.S. team's victories.
In the 2000-01 NBA regular season with the Toronto Raptors, Carter posted career highs in points scored (27.6), steals (1.5), and three point field goal percentage (41 percent).
Ray Allen: 2000 Golden Medalist
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As the number one option for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2000-01 season, Allen lead the Milwaukee Bucks to within one game of the NBA Finals. Allen's cumulative production was perhaps the best of his career: 22 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.5 steals, and 48 percent shooting from the field.
Tim Duncan: 2004 Bronze Medalist
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A member of the bronze medalist 2004 men's Olympic team, Duncan took the bitter taste of a third place finish by averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks a game in the regular season en route to a San Antonio Spurs championship.
Any argument that the Olympics tired Duncan in the regular season was extinguished in the 2005 playoffs. Duncan averaged 23.6 points and 12.2 rebounds over 23 playoff games as the Spurs won their second championship ring since 2000.
Dwight Howard: 2008 Gold Medalist
Remember when Dwight Howard was one of the most popular centers in the NBA who lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals? That was in 2008-09, after Howard dutifully served the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal win.
Howard averaged 10.9 points and 5.6 rebounds for the U.S team in 2008. He went on to have a career best NBA regular season with the Orlando Magic, averaging 20.6 points, 13.8 rebounds, and three blocked shots a game.
Howard reached the NBA Finals with the Magic that year, where the Magic lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1.
Carmelo Anthony: 2008 Gold Medalist
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Anthony—who until the 2008-09 season had never advanced past the first round of the playoffs—helped the Denver Nuggets reach the Western Conference Final in the spring of 2009. In addition to averaging 23 points a game, Anthony had a career high in defensive rebounding (5.2) that season.
Kobe Bryant: 2008 Gold Medalist
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Kobe Bryant has extolled the virtues of Olympic competition this summer, and not without good reason. After his 2008 Olympic campaign, Kobe went on to win his fourth championship ring with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008-09 season.
Bryant shot a career best 47 percent from the floor on way to averaging 27 points and five assists in the regular season. Although 30 years old in 2008, Bryant played in the Olympics, then played all 82 regular season games (36 minutes a night) and 23 subsequent playoff games (40 minutes a night).
Chris Paul: 2008 Gold Medalist
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Chris Paul had his best regular season in 2008-09 with the New Orleans Hornets. He averaged career highs in points per game (22.8), steals (2.8), field goal percentage (50 percent), and total rebounds (5.5).