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A look at all 10 UNC basketball players to win gold medals at the Olympics

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Harrison Barnes became the 10th Tar Heel to win gold for USA basketball. A look at who else has won big at the Olympics.

East Carolina v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

This past Thursday the Men’s USA Olympic basketball team won gold. This was their third straight gold medal and sixth in the last seven Olympic games. This year’s team featured Harrison Barnes, the 10th Tar Heel to win an Olympic gold medal while representing the United States. This got us thinking about who the other nine players were to represent the red, white, and Carolina blue. Can you name them all without looking?

Larry Brown (Player- 1964), (Assistant Coach- 2000)

Brown was the first basketball player from UNC to play in the Olympics, and he is the only UNC basketball alumni to win a gold for the USA team as a player, and as part of the coaching staff. Here’s a fun fact about Larry Brown’s Olympic career, standing a little shy of 5’10, he is tied for the shortest basketball player to ever play for the USA Olympic basketball team.

Charles Scott (1968)

Charles Scott was UNC’s first black scholarship athlete. He will be known more for this than anything he did at UNC. That’s pretty crazy when you consider the guy won a gold medal for USA, was a two-time first-team All-American, and lead North Carolina to two ACC championships and two Final Four appearances.

1976 USA Olympic Team

I am just going to give this team their own section because the group featured four Tar Heels, as well as Dean Smith as head coach with Bill Guthridge as assistant coach.

Point guard Phil Ford averaged 9.0 assists per game for a team who’s second leading assist man averaged only 3.0 per game. Mitch Kupchak was one of the more key players for the 1976 team, averaging 12.5 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. Walter Davis averaged 4.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game and Tommy LaGarde averaged 6.7 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

All four Tar Heels contributed in some way to help bring home the gold. This team truly embodied coach Dean Smith and the team-first mentality.

Michael Jordan (1984), (1992)

Michael Jordan participated in the last all-college team to win gold as well as the first USA team with NBA players to win a gold medal at the Olympics. As a member of the 1984 team, Jordan led the team with 17.1 points per game. In 1992, as a member of arguably the greatest basketball team ever assembled, MJ was second in scoring with 15 points per game. His role expanded beyond scoring though, as he filled up the stat sheet with 2.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 4.6 steals, and 1.0 block per game for the Dream Team.

Sam Perkins (1984)

Sam Perkins was another member of the last all-college team to win an Olympic gold medal. Perkins averaged 8.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game for a team that had three future Dream Team members on it.

Vince Carter (2000)

Although Carter led the USA team in scoring, he will mostly be remembered for one thing from his Olympics experience, when he jumped clear over 7’2 French center, Frédéric Weis. This is still, in my opinion, one of the greatest in-game dunks of all-time.

Harrison Barnes (2016)

I’m going to use this opportunity to express my confusion and anger towards all of the hate that Barnes has been getting recently . He had a horrible Finals, followed up with a lackluster Olympic appearance. The Olympics weren’t necessarily his fault. He honestly didn’t put up bad numbers; he just didn’t see the floor very often. In the Olympics, Barnes had 17 points on 6-13 shooting with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 31 minutes of action.

In the Finals, he played poorly, but so did MVP Steph Curry, who shot 7.5 points a game below his season average, distributed 3.0 fewer assists than his season mark, and shot a whopping 10% lower field goal percentage. Yet Barnes gets more hate and scrutiny than the league MVP received, even though he had arguably as bad a Finals performance, if not worse, given his value to the team.

Regardless though, why so much hate? He is an NBA champion, a gold medalist, and recently signed a $94 million dollar contract. He has never gotten into trouble off the court, or done anything to warrant so much ridicule. In the end, he doesn’t care. He’s a champion on multiple levels and the haters are just Twitter tough guys.

UNC has been well represented in the Olympics for quite some time now. What’s better than representing UNC and USA by winning gold at the Olympics? Thank you, for making us proud, Tar Heels. Go Heels, go America.