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'72 U.S. basketball team to reconvene for first time since controversial loss

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Kenny Davis (No. 4), captain of the 1972 U.S. Olympic hoops squad, posed with the team that refused their silver medals. (AP)

For the first time since they were robbed of a gold medal in 1972, the team that represented the U.S. in men's hoops will reconvene entirely and relive old times.

Team captain Kenny Davis will hold the get-together at his alma mater, Georgetown College (Kentucky), where dinner and seminars will be held. The public can attend, which is pretty great. In some ways, I'm surprised the 40-year anniversary of the gold medal game loss is the first time this group has come together since.

Something tells me it's not going to be a typical reunion. You know how whenever you meet up with old friends, some people you haven't seen for a year or two or five, you can't help but drift back to the old days? Those are some fun nostalgic moments. It's unlikely members of the '72 team will have too many bubbly stories to hold court over. I can't help but think the terms "commies" and "sunsabitches" will be bounced around like a basketball all night.

The team remains a part of an outcome that's as controversial as any in Olympics history. The Soviet Union essentially received a do-over on the final play of the game, made a layup following a full-court pass, and won 51-50. Infamously, the U.S. has refused to pick up their silver medals, which still remain locked up somewhere in Germany. The loss meant the end of a 63-game winning streak for the U.S. in international competition. Prior to it, the country never lost in Olympic men's basketball.

More from Reuters:

The 1972 American basketball defeat took place in a funereal atmosphere after one of the most notorious events in Olympic history in Munich - the massacre of 11 members of the Israeli team by Palestinian commandos.

The 1972 game ended in chaos. With the United States ahead 50-49, the Soviets inbounded and time ran out. But a referee blew his whistle because a Soviet assistant coach was gesturing frantically that they had tried to call a time out.

Then Jones interceded, ordering the game clock reset to three seconds.

The final three seconds were replayed twice because the clock was not properly reset the first time. After the first Soviet miss, the Americans thought they had won and in the bedlam that followed one US player nearly had his jersey ripped off, and US coach Hank Iba's wallet was pickpocketed.

...

"Anybody who saw the last few minutes and knows the rules knows that we got cheated," said Ed Ratleff, a star guard who subsequently played professionally in the NBA, coached, and is now an insurance executive.

Had no idea Iba lost his wallet in the melee. The story itself remains one of intrigue and regret on behalf of America because it really seemed like the refs were on the take. You factor in the Cold War, which was all of a decade old at that point, and the animosity factor roars through the roof.

The world has had its share of Olympic controversies in the past 100 years. Few things have seemed so visually befuddling and unnecessary as the ending of the '72 gold medal game, though.

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