Invented by James Naismith in the 1890s at a Springfield, Massachusetts, USA Young Men's Christian Association gymnasium, basketball has flourished into one of the most popular sports internationally. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has held a World Championship on a more or less quadrennial basis since 1950, and the sport has been contested at the Summer Olympic Games 17 times (1904, and every Olympics from 1936 to present). Below are listed the most successful men's national teams in these competitions at the highest level.
6. Spain, 1 Title, (1 FIBA World Championship)
The Spanish men's national basketball team is organized and run by the Spanish Basketball Federation. During the 1936 Summer Olympics, when basketball was first introduced as part of the Olympics, the Spanish team was unable to attend the championship due to the breakout of Civil War in the country. The team attended its first Summer Olympics game in 1960, where it ended up with a rank of 11th. The performance of the team improved in the 1980 Olympics, where it achieved a prestigious 4th Place ranking among the national basketball teams from around the world. The 1984 Summer Olympics was a major turning point for the team when it reached the finals in the Summer Olympics Basketball Tournament held in Los Angeles.
5. Brazil, 2 Titles (2 FIBA World Championships)
Brazil has one of the most powerful men’s basketball teams in the Americas region, and is the only team besides the US to have participated in all of the FIBA World Cup games since 1950. The sport of basketball was first introduced in Brazil in 1896 by Professor Augusto Shaw. The first national team was formed in 1922, which made its debut in games against Argentina and Uruguay.
4. Argentina, 2 Titles (1 Olympic Gold, 1 FIBA World Championship)
The Argentina men’s national basketball team, governed by the Argentine Basketball Federation, is one of the most successful basketball teams in the world. The team started participating in international competitions in 1930 at the South American Championships, where it emerged as a runner-up. Currently, it participates in a large number of international championships, earning huge success in a significant number of these games. It has won 12 gold medals and several bronze medals by participating in the South American Championships. The team first participated in the Summer Olympics in 1948, where it finished with a 15th place rank among the world's basketball teams. However, in the next Olympics, they performed significantly better than in the first one, finishing off in the 4th position. In the 2004 Athens, Greece Summer Olympics, the team won its first Olympic gold medal, and in the following Olympics, held in China in 2008, it won a silver medal.
3. Russia/USSR, 5 Titles (2 Olympic Golds, 3 FIBA World Championships)
The Soviet national men’s basketball team was was one of the most powerful basketball teams in its time, with a long list of significant achievements adding to its glory. The team had to be unfortunately dissolved in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Today, the successor countries of the Soviet Union have established their own teams, with the Russian men’s national basketball team carrying the legacy of the Soviet team forward with its own realm of achievements. The Soviet team played their first international game at the EuroBasket in 1947, where they defeated the defending gold medallists, Czechoslovakia, in the finals, grabbing the gold medal in their debut performance.
2. Yugoslavia, 6 Titles (1 Olympic Gold, 5 FIBA World Championships)
Though the Yugoslavia Men’s Basketball Team has now been succeeded by a number of other teams following the country's breakup in the early 1990s, the performance of this team between the years 1943 and 1992 made for a highly praiseworthy legacy. The team captured the gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games held in Moscow in 1980. It also won 3 silver medals and a bronze medal in the Olympics. The team emerged as world champions in three FIBA World Cup games, namely those held in 1970, 1978, and 1990.
1. United States, 19 Titles (14 Olympic Golds, 5 FIBA Championships)
The USA men’s national basketball team, representing the United States of America in international championships, remains the best basketball team in the world in terms of historical team achievements in the FIBA and Summer Olympic Championships. The United States team is currently ranked number one in the FIBA World Rankings. The track record of this team is filled with frequent moments of glory and gold medals. It has won medals in all of the 17 Summer Olympics in which it has participated, and these include an incredible 14 gold medals. The US team has also earned their country 5 gold medals by winning the world championship in the FIBA World Cup games, including a gold medal in the most recently held FIBA World Cup in 2014 in Spain.