1936 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team
The first-ever U.S. Olympic Men’s basketball Team was surrounded by controversy. Not only was the team playing in the first-ever basketball tournament at the Olympics, but the game’s themselves itself, were most controversial. The world was on the brink of an all-out war as Hitler was wreaking havoc, and the 1936 Olympics were to be played in his backyard – Berlin, Germany. Somehow, though, Hitler convinced the world to visit Berlin for the Olympic Games. The U.S., which strongly considered boycotting the Games, ultimately decided to participate. The team the U.S. sent to Berlin for basketball was selected in a way few know. A tournament was staged in New York City at Madison Square Garden – and that tournament was controversial as well, as very few fans turned out. From that tournament, the U.S. Team was to be selected and it was to be made up from the two best teams, the teams that finished 1-2. Yes, “teams” played for the right to represent the U.S. and the Top-2 were selected, along with one collegiate player. That’s only party of the story though. Basketball at the 1936 Olympics was played outdoors and the weather played a significant role. While the U.S., as expected, dominated the tournament, the team was very splintered. In fact, half the team was not present when the U.S. won the Gold, nor was it present when the Gold Medals were handed out. And, yet, there was so much more when it came to these Olympics; and joining the podcast to talk about all of it is Andrew Maraniss who just released a new book, “Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany.” Andrew, who conducted countless interviews, and whose research is very evident about the topic, shared so much of what he learned on this edition of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes.
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