Olympics: Munich 1972
To this day, 12 silver medals sit in a vault in Lusanne, Switzerland, waiting to be claimed by the members of the 1972 USA men's basketball team.
America has owned the men's basketball competition since its inception in 1936 and won every gold medal leading up to the 1972 games in Munich.
Things looked to be the same when the Olympics kicked off, and the American stormed through the group stage, winning all seven of their games and outscoring their opponents by a combined 230 points.
However, the basketball competition started to resemble the geopolitical landscape of the time, as the USSR emerged as a superpower in the other group. The Soviets also went 7-0 in the group stage and, in a strange coincidence, also outscored their opponents by a combined 230 points.
The USSR was not like the teams the Americans were used to facing in international competitions. The Soviets may as well have been a professional team, as the squad had played nearly 400 games together when the Olympics started.
Fittingly, the two teams met in the finals. The Americans quickly discovered that this game would not be just another blowout, as the Soviets took a considerable lead.
Team USA came storming back and was down by one with just seconds remaining in the game. Guard Doug Collins, now the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, intercepted a pass and broke towards the basket.
He was fouled hard on an attempted layup and appeared to be injured. He courageously got up and sunk two free throws to give the Americans a one-point lead.
Then, one of the most controversial series of events in Olympic history took place.
The Russians inbounded the ball with three seconds remaining, but the referees stopped the clock with one second left as the Soviet coaches were protesting. They claimed the referees had ignored their request for a timeout during Collins' free throws.
The refs then ordered time to be put back on the clock and restarted play. The Soviets failed to score and time ran out, but the scorers table did not correctly reset the clock. The officials again added time to the game and gave the USSR one more shot at inbounding the ball.
This time, Alexander Belov caught a long pass and laid the ball in to give his country a one-point victory and the gold medal.
The U.S. players refuse to accept the legitimacy of this result to this day. There is plenty of merit to their cries of foul play, but the result still stands.
This game has been remembered for the controversy, but it was still a monumental upset by the Soviets.