Preliminary Round (Pool Play)
U.S. 88, Italy 54
U.S. 125, Japan 66
U.S. 107, Hungary 63
Semifinals (Pool Play)
U.S. 104, Yugoslavia 42
U.S. 108, Uruguay 50
U.S. 81, Soviet Union 57
Championship Round (Pool Play, semifinal win over Soviet Union carried over)
U.S. 112, Italy 81
U.S. 90, Brazil 63
This was the amateur version of the United States’ Basketball Dream Team. Of the 12 players, 10 went on to play in the NBA, including the Rookie of the Year in each of the next four seasons: Terry Dischinger, Oscar Robertson, Walt Bellamy and Jerry Lucas. Bellamy, Lucas, Robertson and Jerry West would be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, joined by the team’s coach, Pete Newell, and manager, Dutch Lonborg.
“We had speed, quickness and stamina, played stifling defense, and rebounded at both ends of the court,” Robertson wrote years later. “We played textbook basketball, blocking out under the boards, setting picks for each other, moving without the ball to get open for good shots. Everyone played his role.”
The team was threatened only once at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games, leading the Soviet Union by just seven points at halftime. “This was at the height of the cold war, with huge pressure on both teams to win,” Robertson wrote. “Newell did not trust the officiating in a close game, so we opened the second half by smothering the Soviets with a full-court press and simultaneously went on a 25-1 tear.”
In all, the team won its eight games by an average of 42.4 points. None were closer than 24 points. Lucas, who played at Ohio State University, saved his best for the two games in the final round, scoring 25 points in routs of Italy and Brazil. He and Robertson led the team in scoring, averaging 17 points per game as the Americans won their fifth consecutive gold medal.
“Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, three of the greatest players of all time, just happen to be able to, with timing and everything, get on the same Olympic team,” said Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame curator Matt Zeysing. “And so you get to 1960 and you have what might have been, or probably was, the greatest amateur team ever assembled for any country.”