SI Vault
 
AN EXUBERANT FINISH IN TOKYO
John Underwood
November 02, 1964
The Russians came fast in the final week to win the most medals, but the Americans had the most golds and the real victory. Then the Olympic Games ended—on a high note of fun and unforgettable ceremony
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 02, 1964

An Exuberant Finish In Tokyo

The Russians came fast in the final week to win the most medals, but the Americans had the most golds and the real victory. Then the Olympic Games ended—on a high note of fun and unforgettable ceremony

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

The U.S. did get behind, by 4-0 at the start, but it did not stay there long. The big difference between the teams is still finesse, and the marvelous mobility good American players develop early. On the other hand, Yan Kruminsh, the 7-foot 2-inch 260-pound Russian veteran of three Olympiads, a massive hulk of a man who might be expected on close inspection to have electrodes at either side of the neck, is still suckered by the most elementary pick. Typical of the entire Russian Olympic contingent, the basketball squad was aging. It averaged 27 years, compared with America's 23, and its old, tired blood was just the kind Pravda had spoken of without tenderness when it editorialized, before the end of the Games, on the poor showing the Soviets had made compared with 1960 in Rome, when they had 43 gold medals to 34 for the U.S. A basketball victory would have salvaged much of the lost prestige, but it was not to be.

With the Soviets still ahead 16-15, Bill Bradley of Princeton whipped a pass to the side to Hazzard, who quicker than that had it to Lucious Jackson, all alone underneath, and Jackson had it in the basket. Shortly afterward, Brown replaced Hazzard, drove in for a crossover layup, then fed to Joe Caldwell on another wide-open shot. Brown hit another from 20 feet, and at that point the Americans led 27-18 and it was as good as over. The Russians got louder as the game wore on, shouting frantic, detailed instructions up and down court—"I can't understand how they can speak Russian and play basketball, too," said an incredulous American fan—but neither talk nor a full-court press, which the U.S. tore apart with free-lance shooting, did any appreciable damage. The Americans won easily 73-59.

In the dressing room afterward Larry Brown stood looking at his medal for a long time. "It's worth $12, that's all." he said. "And you couldn't buy it from me if you had a million."

1 2 3 4