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1972 Soviet Union beats the United States in international basketball game

September 9, 2021

1972 Soviet Union beats the United States in international basketball game

There is a huge emphasis on the 1972 summer Olympics being non-political. But, unfortunately, the US vs. USSR events have always been political for the simple reason that its results are a matter of national pride. As such, there are a number of Olympic match-ups between the two superpowers of the 20th century that are still remembered for such reasons.

The 1972 Men’s Basketball final on September 9th is one of those particularly controversial moments. For those who are unfamiliar, the Soviet team won 51 to 50.

However, the 2-pointer that put them on top happened at the very end under disputed circumstances, with the result that the US team protested that they were the ones who should’ve been declared the winner because time had already run out.

A five-person jury awarded the victory to the Soviet team over the US team.

Unfortunately, that settled nothing because it was common speculation that the three pro-Soviet jury members had voted for the Soviet team while the two pro-US jury members had voted for the US team, meaning that everything was decided by politics.

As a result, the US team refused to accept their silver medals as an expression of their belief that the decision was illegitimate. They have never gone back on that decision, and those silver medals are still sitting in a Swiss vault.


  1. Leonid

    “meaning that everything was decided by politics” Really? After the last goal of the USA team, there were still three seconds before the end of the game. This is a fact that does not require any proof. The two-point goal of the Soviet team is also undeniable. There is no need to ascribe propaganda here. You should not fantasize, but study this issue more carefully.

    • Derek Muchnick

      That’s probably the most ridiculous comment I have ever heard and absolutely not based on facts. The Soviets were given 3 chances to inbound the ball and score when in fact time ran out legitimately the first 2 times.
      The 1st time there was no stoppage on the clock and the Soviets inbounded and time ran out.
      Then, they illegitimately decided to. allow a “do-over”. The referee GAVE the ball to the Soviets player to inbound and HE DID. The ball went out of bounds and the horn sounded AGAIN.
      On the 3rd try they threw the ball the length of the court and scored as the horn sounded AGAIN!!!

      You decide.

    • BC

      The Soviets were kept giving chances till they scored and the time ran out. Cheating is okay, apparently, if you win. The so-called officials were corrupt as the system.


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