SAITAMA, Japan — Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird brought masks, gold medals and bottles of champagne to their last Olympic press conference together.
Taurasi said, "No water! This deserves champagne!''
Bird said: "I'm just really happy, guys. And this is my last one. Nobody has to ask that question anymore.''
"I'll say this too - I'm done as well,'' USA coach Dawn Staley said, drawing laughter.
The USA women's basketball team won its seventh straight gold medal and its 55th straight Olympic game on Sunday, beating Japan, 90-75, in the gold medal game at Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo.
The U.S. hasn't lost since 1992, four years before the WNBA played its first game.
Bird and Taurasi - best friends and former UConn teammates - won their fifth gold medals in what they have said will be their last Olympics. Bird's wife, soccer star Megan Rapinoe, found a way to be courtside even though athletes from different sports generally have not been allowed to attend each other's games because of COVID protocols.
"Megan somehow finagled a media pass,'' Bird said. "I went over and told her I loved her and that I'm tired.''
Bird and Taurasi even did interviews together as they left the court. "You could tell there were moments when they were soaking things in a little bit more,'' USA center Brittney Griner said. "Whether it was being in the hotel or being at practice. But I think at the same time they were trying not to think about it, trying to just play and focus on the now.''
The "now'' ended up looking like the "then,'' back when the U.S. started its dynastic run.
The easiest storylines for this team were the Bird-Taurasi farewell tour and the rise of Breanna Stewart and A'ja Wilson, two dominant young players who will be USA mainstays for several Olympics to come.
Sunday, the USA's most dominant player was someone not on the cusp of retirement, and not new to Olympic dominance. Griner, who is 30, dominated Japan in the paint, frustrating the host team's cutting offense and scoring easily inside.
Griner was the difference in this game and with the Paris Olympics just three years away, there is no reason to believe she won't be teaming with Stewart and Wilson while paying homage to the Eiffel Tower.
Griner scored 30 points before Lynx star Sylvia Fowles replaced her midway through the fourth quarter, setting a record for most points ever by an American in a gold-medal game.
"What she showed in this tournament shows how she can dominate a game,'' said Taurasi, who played with Griner for Phoenix in the WNBA. "I always tell her she doesn't realize just how good she is.''
The U.S. got off to a fast start, largely due to Griner's presence.
When Stewart made a fast-break layup, the U.S. led, 10-2. But from that point until late in the second quarter, Japan played the US tough. It was 38-30 when the US went on an 8-0 run culminating in Griner scoring inside, making it 46-30.
But Japan closed the first half strong, cutting the lead to 50-39.
In the first half the U.S. wasn't efficient in its half-court offense but played strong interior defense and used blocked shots and steals to score in transition. The U.S. shot 69% on two-point shots in the first half, while making 2-of-6 three-pointers.
Perhaps the most telling statistic in the first half was this:
The U.S. blocked eight shots. Japan blocked zero.
Griner used her height and Stewart used her long arms to block and alter a dozen of Japan's shots. Japan's creative, quick offense continually produced lanes to the basket, but often those lanes led to a fast-closing defender.
Griner also scored easily inside. She hit nine of her 10 first-half shots, going into the break with 18 points, four rebounds, one steal and two blocks. Stewart had three blocks.
Neither Minnesota Lynx player on the roster - Fowles or Napheesa Collier - played in the first half. Staley tightened her rotation after the USA's relative struggles early in the Olympic tournament.
Both played in the fourth quarter. Fowles produced two points and two rebounds. Collier grabbed one rebound.
The U.S. lost the WNBA all-stars and then Australia in midsummer exhibitions, and won its Olympic opener by a mere nine points over Nigeria.
The U.S. got progressively better, blew out Australia in the semifinal and coasted to another gold.
By the last few minutes of the game, the U.S. players were hugging on the bench. They're used to winning, but hardly taking it for granted.
"I could tell you that I've had teammates where I thought, `Oh, she's really annoying,' '' Bird said. "I never felt that with Diana. She has that brash form of confidence, that cockiness, but on the court we always vibed.''
Taurasi said she started a countdown to the Olympics on her phone almost a year ago, and she'd send the updates to Bird every day. "That got stressful,'' Taurasi said.
"We didn't really know who we were as a team early," she continued. "There's always a lot of pressure to play well and win a medal when you wear this jersey.
"It's been a long journey, and I think everyone is going to go home pretty happy."