Host City: Roma, Italy
Venue(s): Minor Sports Palace, Roma; Sports Palace, Roma
Date Started: August 26, 1960
Date Finished: September 10, 1960
Format: Several series of round-robin pools advanced teams to classification tournament.
In 1959, the United States finished only 3rd at the World Championships, losing in the final round to both Brazil, which won the title, and the Soviet Union. The Soviets also won the European Championships in 1957 and 1959, while Brazil was South American champion in 1958 and 1960. It seemed possible that the US oligarchy in Olympic basketball might be threatened.
The US chose an all-star team for its 1960 Olympic team, rather than selecting players from a winning team. The team they chose is often considered the greatest amateur basketball team of all-time. It was led by guards Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, who thru the 1980s, until the advent of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, were often considered the two finest guards in basketball history. Other future NBA stars on the team included Jerry Lucas, Terry Dischinger (both later NBA rookies-of-the-year), and center Walt Bellamy. The team was so strong that future NBA star John Havlicek was chosen only as an alternate.
In the Olympic tournament, the United States defeated its three main rivals easily – Brazil by 27 points in the final game, the USSR by 24 points in preliminary competition, and Italy by 31 points in the final pool. The game against the Soviet Union was the closest match they had in the tournament. Through five Olympic tournaments, the United States had still not lost a game.