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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
U.S. basketball team robbed of gold medals
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

Sept. 10, 1972

We wuz robbed! The United States basketball team has good reason to feel this way after losing 51-50 to the Soviet Union in the Olympic final. The Americans' streak of winning every game and every gold medal since basketball joined the Olympics in 1936 ends in bitter controversy.

After Doug Collins' two foul shots with three seconds left give the U.S. its first lead at 50-49 some time after 1 a.m. in Munich, the Soviet Union gets three scoring opportunities. On the first, an inbounds pass is deflected at midcourt and a crowd rushes the court, thinking the U.S. has won. But the clock still shows one second left and the Soviets get another chance. When the second inbounds pass is short, the U.S. celebrates its "victory."

But a high-ranking international basketball official says the clock had not been reset and orders three seconds -- not one -- be put on the clock. Aleksander Belov outmuscles two Americans to catch the full-court inbounds pass and scores a layup to give the Soviets their victory. A U.S. protest is denied and the team refuses to accept its silver medals, not appearing at the awards ceremony that night.

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