THIS IS THE PLACE SPORTS – Weber State alum Damian Lillard became the latest player with ties to Utah to win a gold medal in basketball. The Portland Trail Blazers guard averaged 12.8 points and 3.8 assists as Team USA defeated France 87-82 Saturday in Japan for the top spot on the podium.
Previous Beehive State gold medalists include former Utah Jazz players Deron Williams (2008, 2012), Carlos Boozer (2008), Karl Malone (1992, 1996), John Stockton (1992, 1996), and Adrian Dantley (1976). Vince Boryla, who was a general manager for the ABA’s Utah Stars, helped the USA claim the gold medal in 1948.
And there’s more . . .
BYU alum Kresimir Cosic was on the Yugoslavian team that finished first in 1980; ex-New Orleans Jazz center Walt Bellamy won a gold medal in 1960; and Dwyane Wade, part-owner of the Utah Jazz, collected the prized hardware in 2008.
There’s been some silver in the mix as well. Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who was on the France team that lost to the USA over the weekend, is joined by previous second-place finishes from former Utah guards Raul Lopez and Ricky Rubio (Spain, 2008). Cosic has two silvers in his collection, winning them in 1968 and 1976.
As for bronze medals, Joe Ingles of the Jazz and former pro teammate Dante Exum played pivotal roles for Australia. The Boomers finished third to win the country’s first medal in men’s basketball.
Others with Utah connections to secure bronze medals include Boozer (2004), Rubio (2016), and Wade (2004) — as well as ex-Jazzmen Danny Manning (1988) and Richard Jefferson (2004).
In addition, had the USA not opted to boycott the Moscow Olympics in 1980, University of Utah and Skyline High School alum Danny Vranes would likely have earned a medal — perhaps a gold one at that. He made the team that didn’t get to compete that year.