Posts Tagged ‘Dwight Jones’

Dwight Jones, former Olympian and NBA big man, dies at 64

NEW YORK CITYDwight Jones, a big man who played for a decade in the NBA and represented the United States in the 1972 Olympics, passed away earlier this week at 64 years old. According to the Houston Chronicle, Jones, perhaps the greatest high school player in Houston history, had been battling a heart ailment for several years.

A first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 1973, Jones would go on to play for his hometown Rockets, as well as the Bulls and Lakers. Jones retired in 1984 after playing 766 NBA regular season games, amassing career averages of 8.1 ppg and 5.9 rpg.

Jones was also known for his participation in the controversial 1972 Olympics Men’s Basketball finals, when Team USA lost the gold medal game in overtime against the Soviet Union. As the New York Times recounts, even years later Jones remained frustrated by the loss

“For some of the guys, it’s eased over the years,” he was quoted as having said by The Houston Chronicle in 2002. “But for most of us,” he added, “we’re not that way.”

The American and Soviet teams had dominated the competition leading up to the championship game. The Americans initially struggled against the more experienced Soviet team, but managed a comeback and were trailing, 49-48, with seconds left in the game. Doug Collins sank two free throws, giving the Americans their first lead of the night with one second left on the clock.

An official, however, ordered that two seconds be put back on the clock. When the Soviets failed to score and a horn sounded, the American team began to celebrate and spectators swarmed the court. But officials then ruled that the clock had not been set properly, and they resumed the game with three seconds on the clock, giving the Russians yet another chance.

This time, Ivan Edeshko hurled a full-court pass to Aleksandr Belov, who scored the winning layup over Kevin Joyce and Jim Forbes. It was the first time the Americans had ever lost a game in the Olympics.

Jones was off the court when it happened. He had been ejected with about twelve minutes left for scuffling with Mishako Korkia.

The American team appealed the results before a five-member jury set up by basketball’s global governing body, but lost, 3-2. The three members who voted to uphold the Russian victory were all from Communist countries. The Americans unanimously refused to accept their silver medals.

“It all came down to the Robin Hood theory — they took away from the good to give to the bad,” Jones said. “It’s the only game in history that has ever been played like that and ended like that.”

University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson (via said in a statement…

Dwight was a tremendous competitor, who represented the University of Houston and his nation well during his playing career. While his health declined in recent years, he faced those challenges with the same courage and spirit that made him one of our program’s greats. Tonight, our hearts go out to Dwight’s family and friends and all those who knew and loved him.

40 years later, Team USA still defiant over controversial Olympic loss

Rich Clarkson/Time & Life Images

LEXINGTON, KY – They were just kids then, schoolboy amateurs brought together in the summer of 1972 to continue their nation’s unblemished record in Olympic basketball. They are men now, husbands and fathers and even grandfathers, some who made a career in the sport, others who found success and struggle in other pursuits.

For the first time in 40 years – basically since their flight home from Munich with neither the gold medals they felt they deserved or the silver medals they refused to accept – all 12 members of the ’72 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team were in the same room this weekend.

They came together for a 40th reunion organized by team captain Kenny Davis and longtime Kentucky sports journalist Billy Reed and, as often is the case at reunions, they reminisced, they laughed … and they dredged up the pain of a legacy denied.

“Last night was surreal,” said Tom Burleson, 60, the 7-foot center from N.C. State. After razzing the Kentucky crowd with some Wolfpack antics, Burleson choked up when he spoke about the bonds between these players, forged by what they had endured to get to the brink of Olympic gold and by what they have gone through in living with the controversial loss ever since.