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Basketball (Olympic sport since 1936)


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  For 36 years after basketball entered the Olympic Games as a full medal sport for men, the question was not who would win, but who would finish second. The United States owned the game, and not just because it was invented there.

  The Soviet Union took home the gold when they toppled the US team in a controversial 1972 game. After another semi-final victory for the Soviets in 1988, the sport opened to professionals. Once again, the question became who would finish second. In Barcelona in 1992, with a squad featuring some of the world's best-known athletes - Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird - the gold-medal winning US "Dream Team" gave an exhibition of basketball at its best.

  Women's basketball hasn't been quite such a one-sided affair. Since it joined the Olympic programme in 1976, the gold medals have been divided between the US, the Soviet Union and, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States.

  © IOC

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