Three years ago, Alvin AuYoung and I pointed out that Shaquille O’Neal held all three major championships in basketball: the NBA Championship, (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), the Olympic Gold Medal (1996), and the FIBA World Cup (1994). We incorrectly said that he was, at the time, the only member of Basketball’s Triple Gold Club: David Robinson had the 1986 World Cup, the 1992 and 1996 Gold Medals, and the 1999 and 2003 NBA Championships. Less than a month after we wrote the piece, Tyson Chandler added the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal to his 2010 FIBA World Cup Championship and 2011 NBA Championship. Now there’s a fourth: with the Golden State Warriors victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers last month, Warriors’ Sixth Man Andre Iguodala added the 2015 NBA Championship to his 2010 FIBA World Cup Championship and his 2012 Olympic Gold Medal.
Iguodala’s march to the triple gold was similar to Shaq’s. Shaq won the 1994 World Cup while a member of the Orlando Magic, the 1996 Gold Medal after his last season with the Magic, and the 2000 NBA title with the Lakers. Iguodala won the 2010 World Cup while a member of the Denver Nuggets and the 2012 Gold Medal after his last season with the Nuggets. Both were Finals MVPs in their first NBA championship. Shaq was younger (28 at his triple gold while Iguodala was 31).
Though there are now only four members, they had better make room for more. Both of the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, have both the 2015 NBA Championship and the 2014 World Cup Championship, and are locks for the US team in the 2016 Summer Olympics. In fact, Curry has two World Cups, from 2014 and 2010. Curry would have joined the club with Iguodala, except that he was prevented from playing in the 2012 Olympics because of a knee injury.
While Thompson and Curry seem to be locks, others are knocking on the door. Kevin Love has both a Gold Medal and a World Cup Championship, and the Cavaliers are likely to be strong contenders next year. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and James Harden also are only missing the NBA Championship. Kyrie Irving needs both an NBA Championship and a Gold Medal, but given his near-certain selection to the US team next year and the Cavaliers’ strength, he could win both the Gold Medal and the Larry O’Brien trophy in a single year. LeBron James heads a list of great players (Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Tayshaun Prince) with both a Gold Medal and an NBA Championship, but he won’t have an opportunity to complete the Triple until 2019. At that point he’ll be 35, and may not want to play international basketball.
Similarly, Manu Ginobili has a 2004 Gold Medal to go with his four NBA Championships (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014), but in 2019 he’ll be 42, and, realistically, Argentina is a longshot. So this looks to be an exclusively American club for a number of years.