Tarheeltalker

Basketball, Olympic Style

The American basketballers are rampaging through through the Bejing games, intent on reclaiming the gold medal that somehow turned into bronze in 2004 . Even their nickname, the ” Redeem Team ” hints at their mission . Why not, the USA record was 129 wins and 2 losses prior to Sydney . But my focus is on two other teams , the silver medalists of 1972 and the real redeem team of 1976 . The 1972 results remain controversial even some 36 years later . As it played out the American team took a  one point lead with one second remaining . After being allowed to inbound the ball 3 times , the Soviet Union scored and won a dramatic victory . The Americans protested but lost that vote 3-2 along party lines . A very interesting thing to me is that that the Americans refused their silver medals then and refused them again 30 years later. They remain in a Swiss bank vault . Bad sports  ?  Dont think so . This game  was played during the height of the Cold War and was very much politicized . Sidelight, UNC star Bobby Jones was on that team . So with that as a prelude , 1976 was the must win of must wins . Also at this time, the American team was all collegians who came together for only a short time period while their opponents were generally older and more experienced .  UNC coach Dean Smith was chosen to lead this 1976 team. His legacy was just beginning to be formed so victory was by no means a guarantee . Especially was this true when several of his own Tarheel players were selected along other players from their conference . So the enormous pressure combined with vocal doubts about the makeup of the team made this a precarious task at best . History tells us  that ” the Dean ” knew what he was doing and the real redeem team recaptured Olympic gold . Neat little side stories about that team abound . But just time for two of them . One of the UNC players on the team was current LA Laker general manger Mitch Kupchak, another player was Indiana’s Scott May whose son Sean later helped UNC win a national championship .

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August 13, 2008 - Posted by | Sports | , , , ,

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