Bulldozing opponents by 34.4 points, they extended their Olympic win streak to 41 games. "Our country has so much talent; that's what sets us apart—our ability to wear teams down and bring people in like waves," says Bird (above, right). The USA's second five could easily have started every game; indeed, the hero of the final, former WNBA MVP Candace Parker (above, left), came off the bench to score 21 points and grab 11 rebounds in an 86--50 beatdown of France.
Yet earning that fifth gold—a record in Olympic women's team sports—wasn't the carefree romp it may have appeared to be, says Bird. "I know we beat a lot of people by a lot of points, but it's emotionally taxing to try to be great for however many games you have."
That's the legacy U.S. hoops has built: For better or worse, the world will expect more of the same in Rio.