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At a time when the college game was arguably held in higher regard by the public than its professional counterpart, the 1960 USA Men’s Basketball squad represented the most spectacular aggregation of amateur basketball talent in history. It was an informal designation that would never truly be challenged: indeed, even the modern “Dream Team” of 1992 might rival its predecessor by virtue of a greater PR campaign and a catchy moniker, but this assemblage of Lucas, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Walt Bellamy, Terry Dischinger, et al., created the template for international basketball dominance.
Remarkably, this historic squad, inducted as a group in the Basketball Hall of Fame along with that aforementioned group of youngsters from 1992, wasn’t even as awe inspiring as it might have been. Lucas’ Ohio State teammate, John Havlicek, somehow was left off the squad, along with another eventual NBA Hall of Famer, Lenny Wilkens, because of the political infighting taking place at the time to wrest control of USA Basketball. The Olympic Trials, such as they were at the time, were conducted as an eight-team tournament that included the reigning NCAA Champion Ohio State Buckeyes, led by Lucas and Havlicek, a team of NCAA All-Stars (welcome Robertson, West, Bellamy & Co.), NAIA All-Stars and the AAU Champion. Thus the team ended up comprising seven collegiate stars, four AAU players and a representative of the Armed Forces (guard Adrian Smith). Only such exquisite political ineptitude could conspire to leave a John Havlicek at home as his teammate headed to Rome.
The egregious slight may have inspired Lucas to even greater heroics. As the stacked team rolled to an 8-0 mark with an average margin of victory of roughly 40 points, Lucas was the co-leading scorer with Robertson at 17 points per game and also led the team in rebounding. Five players from the team averaged double figures, and four of the players – Lucas, Robertson, West and Bellamy – would ultimately be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as would the team’s coach, Pete Newell of the University of California. Lucas scored 25 points to lead all scorers in the Gold Medal game against Brazil – a 90-63 thumping, the same total he logged in the previous game, a 112-81 thrashing of Italy.
One of the greatest scholastic and collegiate players in the history of the sport (he was named to Sports Illustrated’s five-man College All-Century Team in 1999), Lucas would find similar success in the pro ranks, being named as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players as part of the league’s 50th Anniversary, adding a level of prominence even to players already duly immortalized by the Naismith Hall of Fame. Lucas’ entry to that prestigious body in 1980 quite properly coincided with the induction of two of his teammates from the fabled 1960 Olympic Team, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.
Jerry Lucas’ 1960 Olympic gold medal, the singular medal from this historic team to reach the open market, is among the most significant basketball awards ever offered publicly. The medals of the 1960 Rome Olympics were the only medals to feature the chain of bronze olive leaves, homage to the ancient Olympic games where winners received a wreath of olive leaves instead of medals.
Includes a LOA from Jerry Lucas.
The gold-gilded medal weighs 3.6 oz. (7.9 oz. with the chain) with a 54 mm. diameter (68 mm. with the wreath). The face of the medal features a design by Florentine artist Giuseppe Cassioli. Created for the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, the design was used on all Summer Olympic medals until 2004. The front of the medal depicts a victorious athlete being carried through the stadium by his peers. A banner along the bottom of the bronze wreath surrounding the medal reads “PALLACANESTRO”, which translates to “BASKETBALL”. The verso’s design depicts Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, seated above the stadium along with “GIOCHI DELLA XVII OLIMPIADE ROMA MCMLX” in relief. This translates to “Games of the 17th Olympiad Rome 1960”. “800” has been stamped on the lower portion of the medal and “STAB ARTISTICI FIORENTINI-FIRENZE-” appears in relief in small text along the perimeter. The bronze chain is made of 20 olive leaves, an homage to the ancient Olympic games where winners received a wreath of olive leaves instead of medals. The chain measures approximately 32 inches. The medals of the 1960 Rome Olympics were the only medals to feature the chain of bronze olive leaves. The medal is in NR-MT condition.
This lot has a Reserve Price that has not been met.