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They're closing the hoop gap
Alexander Wolff
September 05, 1983
The U.S. was golden in Caracas, but it wasn't blowing opponents away
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September 05, 1983

They're Closing The Hoop Gap

The U.S. was golden in Caracas, but it wasn't blowing opponents away

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Number 14 was the 6'9" Tisdale, who scored most of the Americans' inside points, including 29 against Canada, and spent much of the week keeping teammates loose with lines like, "I always thought a bolivar was a watch."

Meanwhile, Knight, Hartman's predecessor, was conspicuous by his absence. Few athletes or spectators in Caracas had forgotten that Knight had been charged with assaulting a policeman during the '79 games in San Juan and was eventually tried in absentia and sentenced to six months in jail. "Bobby doesn't go south of Atlanta," said Hartman.

As it turned out, Saturday's U.S.- Puerto Rico game was pro forma because the U.S. had already clinched the gold, and though it was fiercely played, it was not nearly the grudge match it had been in '79. Then the game was for the gold, and after the U.S. won, Knight celebrated by pumping his fists into the air and cursing the crowd. This time the Americans met the Puerto Ricans as though they were old friends. "I played against a lot of those guys on the playgrounds in Brooklyn," said Perkins after the 101-85 victory. "I'd wondered what happened to them."

"There is a friendship between the two teams," said Puerto Rico Coach Flor Melendez. "The problem in 1979 is in 1979. It is now 1983." In 1984, back comes Knight, with not just the Americas but the world to conquer on the court.

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