Either Mike Krzyzewski forgot, or he took a little dig at his Russian counterpart. Smart money is on the latter.
Yesterday, Russian coach David Blatt said that the controversial ending of the 1972 Olympics USA v. Russia gold medal game was “fair.” That after Russia — playing the game in then Eastern Bloc Munich — was given three chances at a final play due to referee and clock malfunctions.
“He’s a Russian,” Krzyzewski said of Blatt, who actually holds dual American and Israeli citizenship…
“You know, he coaches the Russian team, so he probably has that viewpoint, and his eyes are clearer now because there are no tears in them,” Krzyzewski said.
Blatt was born in the United States, grew up in the Boston area as a Celtics fan, and played at Princeton. He’s American, with American citizenship (as well as Israeli citizenship, and it is that nation he currently calls home). He has coached all over the world, including Russia, but he is an American.
So Coach K took a little dig. Other guys with USA basketball are not as forgiving of those times.
NBA executive Mike Bantom, who played for that U.S. team, says the issue could be debated, but “if you lived it, and you were there, you know that it was wrong.”
And that was diplomatic. Off the record, the guys from that team still are pretty pissed about how that game ended. And their silver medals still sit unclaimed 38 years later as evidence.
The USA plays Russia Thursday at the FIBA World Championships. If you think 1972 is motivation, remember that not one member of Team USA was born when that game was played.