Host City: Berlin, Germany
Venue(s): Tennis Courts and Tennis Stadium, Imperial Sports Field, Berlin
Date Started: August 7, 1936
Date Finished: August 14, 1936
Format: Double-elimination in first two rounds, single-elimination from eighth-finals on, classification single-elimination matches for 5th-8th.
A basketball tournament had been contested during the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, but it is usually considered a demonstration, and not a true Olympic event. Thus, the first Olympic Basketball championship took place in 1936. As the inventor of the game, the United States was considered the favorite, although there had been almost no international competitions prior to 1936. In 1935, the first European Championship had been contested, with Latvia winning, Spain second, and Czechoslovakia third. Latvia competed at the 1936 Olympics but did not even survive the second round. There had been South American Championships since 1930, twice won by Uruguay and once by Argentina, prior to the 1936 Olympics.
The United States team consisted of seven members of the Universal Studios team, which had won the US Olympic Trials. They were joined by six players from the McPherson Oilers, who lost in the finals of the Trials. One other player, Ralph Bishop from the University of Washington, was also added to the team. There was really no competition for the USA team until the final match against Canada. The 1936 Olympic basketball event was played outdoors on a sand court, and unfortunately, the final was played underneath a heavy rain, which turned the court into a quagmire and markedly limited scoring. The United States defeated Canada, 19-8, to win the first Olympic basketball gold medal.