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1972 Olympics: The most controversial 3 seconds in basketball history - Jan 31, 2019


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The 1972 Olympics held at Munich saw the Soviet Union beat the USA in the Men's Basketball Final with a score of 51-50 ending the winning streak of the US Men's team.

However, the win was mostly because of multiple rule breaking and massive confusion during the last three seconds of the game.

In fact, the confusion was so great that the team from the USA filed a protest the decision of which did not go their way and for the first time ever, the athletes from the USA basketball team refused to accept their medals and left the stadium after boycotting the entire ceremony.

This display caused quite a stir then.

The rules of the Olympic Games stated that only amateur players can take part in the Olympic Games which led the USA team to have college students who were barely 20 years old play the tournament. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, had veterans who were a lot more experienced but did not have any connections with any sports associations.

The team from the USA had little to no exposure while the team from the Soviet Union had members who had completed about 739 international matches in total between themselves.

Another problem that the US team faced was their coach Hank Iba who although had many achievements to his credit, had lost the way new basketball was being played at that time.

USA Olympics : A Game Like No Other

The USA was struggling throughout the game against the more experienced Soviet side. They controlled the whole game, and the youngsters were left trying to match up. The Americans were well behind the Soviet team throughout the entire game. In the last ten minutes, they were still short of 10 points. The Soviets had 38 points compared to their 28. They played quite well in the previous minutes to reduce the lead to 8 with just about six minutes to go for the game to end.

They played good offensive basketball in the last few minutes of the game and gave a tough task to the Soviet defense. In fact, they ended up reducing the lead to just one point. It was the trapping defense of the Soviets that started the controversy at the end.

In the last ten seconds of the game, the Soviets were still winning by a point when Doug Collins stole a pass somewhere around half the court. He then streaked to the basket and was fouled by ZurabSakandelidze from the Soviet side. Still, Doug managed to score his free throw, but the Soviets still managed to turn it around after a final basket which won them the game, somewhat controversially.   



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