Cakewalk doesn't guarantee gold

History shows Team USA's 47-point win over Tunisia doesn't assure anything

Updated: July 31, 2012, 9:31 PM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | ESPN Insider
Russell WestbrookRichard Mackson/US PresswireRussell Westbrook and Team USA made short order of Tunisia, but does it guarantee gold? Nope.

Doug Collins probably knows the feeling all too well.

Collins, now the Philadelphia 76ers coach and current Olympics men's basketball commentator for NBC, was a member of the U.S. team that opened the preliminary round of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich with a crushing 99-33 victory over the Japanese. Then a junior at Illinois State, Collins was a key cog in one of the most lopsided Team USA wins on record. Surely, a victory of that magnitude signaled that a gold medal would be waiting on the horizon. Indeed, 66 points!

Not so, in fact. Turns out, the American men's hoops squad ended up bringing home silver in 1972, falling to the Soviet Union in the closing minutes of the final. Collins was on the floor to witness the one-point lead with a minute left slip away from his fingers. Of course, controversy has lingered around that particular game for 30 years, but the fact the game had even gotten that close underscores how early dominance might not ever guarantee gold.

So much for that 66-point romp, huh?