1972 U.S. basketball team remains firm in saying no to Olympic silver

Posted: August 31, 2012

Kenny Davis and his teammates on the 1972 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team remain steadfast about the agreement they made 40 years ago - they will never accept their silver medals.

The U.S. lost a 51-50 decision in the gold medal game to the Soviet Union in a controversial finish in which the winners earned three cracks at playing the final three seconds. Doug Collins, now the 76ers coach, had hit two of the most clutch free throws in international history to give the United States a 50-49 lead.

When the '72 team met for a reunion last week that culminated with Saturday's banquet in Lexington, Ky., to honor the squad, none of the players had wavered about accepting the silver medal.

Davis is so committed to the notion that the Americans were cheated out of the gold that he has put a clause in his will that no one in his family can ever accept the silver medal.

"I have two kids and I just felt somewhere along the line something could change, a grandchild or great-grandchild just for monetary reasons [would accept the medal] and that would really upset me if they did that for monetary reasons," he said. "I just felt I needed to make that stand so that it will never happen."

Davis, a star at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky., was the captain of the Olympic team and to this day remains in that capacity through and through. An employee of Converse, he was the one who did much of the legwork in setting up the reunion.

Davis said that under Olympic rules, if one team member votes against accepting a silver medal, then none of them can be presented with one. He doesn't feel that is fair.

"If somebody on my team would like to have that silver medal I would support them 100 percent," he said. "It's just not something I want."

Taps Gallagher, an attorney and coauthor with Mike Brewster of Stolen Glory, a recently published book about the '72 Olympic basketball team, is spearheading an effort in the Court of Arbitration for Sport to get Russia stripped of its gold medal. If that does not occur, Gallagher said he would attempt to have the team awarded a duplicate gold.

Collins for one, would be in favor of accepting a duplicate gold with one stipulation.

"If they want duplicate golds, that is fine if they announce us as the winner," Collins said. "There can't be two winners."

Davis concurred.

"A dual gold is not something I would support," Davis said. "For 40 years we say we won, they lost and now people want to say we both won. There is no such thing in a basketball game.

"I do understand that some of my teammates would like a [dual] gold medal, and if they would like it and it could be arranged I would support it," he said.

Then without wavering, he added: "But I don't want mine."


Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com or @sjnard on Twitter.

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