Were you aware that the first edition of basketball in the Olympics took place outdoors? If that hadn’t been the case, and if rain hadn’t turned the first gold medal game into a contest to see which team could best handle the mud, would the final score have been U.S. 19, Canada 8?
Probably not. Probably more like 37-17.
That game occurred in Berlin in 1936. Since then, men’s basketball in the Olympics has provided a stage for brilliant athletic achievements, laughable romps, and at least one final in which the rules were so thoroughly twisted that they became unrecognizable. Men’s basketball in the Olympics has provided the biggest and most energetic marketers of sneakers and other basketball baggage with the world’s most spectacular bazaar in which to display their wares. It has also given countries the chance to promote themselves and their ideologies, and players the opportunity to polish their previously tarnished images.
American Hoops provides a thorough history of the development of the men’s game from the days when it was played in the dirt before a few confused fans to its current stature as a centerpiece of The Games.
This program aired on January 14, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.