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Basketball at the 1972 München Summer Games:

Men's Basketball

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Host City: München, West Germany
Venue(s): Basketball Hall, Siegenburger Street, München
Date Started: August 27, 1972
Date Finished: September 9, 1972
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to single-elimination tournament.

Gold: URS Soviet Union
Silver: USA United States
Bronze: CUB Cuba


The United States entered the Munich Olympic basketball tournament with its 54-game winning streak intact. Although the international level of basketball was improving, the USA was still considered a heavy favorite. The US team included future NBA players [Doug Collins], [Kevin Joyce], [Tom McMillen], [Tommy Burleson], [Bobby Jones], and [Tom Henderson]. Thru eight games, the United States extended its unbeaten streak and reached the final game against the Soviet Union. But US coach Henry Iba played somewhat of an old-style slowdown-type offense, emphasizing defense and never really released his horses.

The final between the Soviet Union and the United States produced the greatest controversy in Olympic basketball history. Trailing with less 10 seconds left, Doug Collins stole a pass and headed for an "almost" uncontested lay-up. But he was intentionally fouled by the Soviet player [Sako Sak'andelidze], which was necessary to prevent the automatic two points. When Collins sank two free throws with three seconds left, it gave the US a 50-49 lead, its first of the game. The Soviets attempted to inbound the ball. After the inbounds pass, referee Renato Righetto stopped play, as the Soviet coach claimed a time-out had been called. The Soviets were allowed to attempt another inbound play, and the clock was set back to one second. An inbound pass was thrown but time quickly ran out, and the American players began to celebrate wildly.

However, William Jones, the Secretary-General of FIBA then intervened and ordered the shot clock re-set at three seconds and allowed the final inbounds pass to be re-played again. [Ivan Yedeshko] threw a perfect pass to [Aleksandr Belov] who scored a lay-up over Joyce and McMillan. The US protested but to no avail. US dominance in Olympic basketball was officially over. The US players refused to accept the silver medals, leaving the second step of the podium empty, and continue to do so to this day. In fact, one US player, Kenneth Davis, has had it written into his last will and testament that no member of his family is ever to accept a silver medal for basketball from the 1972 Olympics, even after his death.

Final Standings

Rank Team NOC Medal
1 Soviet Union URS Gold
2 United States USA Silver
3 Cuba CUB Bronze
4 Italy ITA
5 Yugoslavia YUG
6 Puerto Rico PUR
7 Brazil BRA
8 Czechoslovakia TCH
9 Australia AUS
10 Poland POL
11 Spain ESP
12 West Germany FRG
13 Philippines PHI
14 Japan JPN
15 Senegal SEN
16 Egypt EGY