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Can you imagine the uproar if LeBron James and the rest of the Team USA men’s basketball team were upset in the gold medal match and just refused to show up to the medal ceremony? American sports fans wouldn’t let them back in the country. And yet, that is exactly what happened back in 1972.In maybe the most controversial moment in Olympics history, the Soviet Union was given three opportunities to score the game-winning basket, doing so only after time was inexplicably added back to the clock. And after the Soviets won, most agree that the Americans were robbed.
But in protesting the result, the Americans refused to show up to the medal ceremony and voted as team to not accept their silver medals. And in 1992, 20 years after the fact, 10 of the 12 players said they still would vote not to receive the medals if offered. One player has even gone so far as to put in his will that even his family is to never accept the medal.
To this day, those medals still sit in a vault in Switzerland.
But what may have been a defiant and acceptable move in the era of The Cold War, is now just a bunch of adult men acting like spoiled brats.
40 years later, thousands of athletes are competing at the London 2012 summer Olympics. And some of them will get screwed out of medals that they may rightfully deserve because of decisions made by officials and judges. But for those that still win silver or bronze, they will show up and accept their medal.
And ultimately, how an athlete behaves and performs is what the Olympic spirit is all about.
If the members of the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team still don’t want their medals, then auction them off for charity. At this point, those medals would likely fetch hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars at auction.
It would be a great opportunity to turn a negative into a positive and help some people in the process. And it would also be an opportunity for the team to stop being babies and finally be the bigger men.
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