U.S. 78, Australia 45
U.S. 77, Finland 51
U.S. 60, Peru 45
U.S. 83, Uruguay 28
U.S. 69, Yugoslavia 61
U.S. 86, Brazil 53
U.S. 116, South Korea 50
U.S. 62, Puerto Rico 42
U.S. 73, Soviet Union 59
To say that there was pressure on the United States men’s basketball team entering the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games would be putting it mildly.
The Americans had won the gold medal in each of the first five Olympics since basketball was included as part of the Summer Games, winning 38 consecutive games. And while the United States’ Team again was strong, there was a feeling that the rest of the world might be catching up.
But led by guard Jerry Shipp and forward Bill Bradley, the Americans found ways to continue their winning streak. Bradley scored 18 points and forward George Wilson made a pair of key jump shots late in a preliminary round 69-61 victory over Yugoslavia and the United States handled the rest of its opponents to claim a sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal.
“When they put those gold medals around our necks, I don’t know how I could have had a bigger smile,” Wilson said 45 years later. “I think I cracked the corners of my mouth smiling so big. I was like a little kid at Christmas.
“The Olympic Experience is the greatest thing ever. There is nothing like it.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Bradley, who scored 10 points in the gold medal game, a 73-59 victory over the Soviet Union, after which the Soviet players nicknamed Bradley “Shootnik”. Bradley would forge a career in politics and was elected a United States Senator.
“Going in you feel a part of your nation and at the end you feel a part of the world,” Bradley said. “After two, three weeks you enter in (Olympic Stadium) just as individuals, you walk in with people that you get to know or people that you meet at the time — German, Australian, Ghanese, Irish . . . Pakistani — so it’s the world. The Olympic saying ‘higher, stronger faster,’ I think when it flashes on the big electric Jumbotron you really feel a part of the world.”