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This sporting life

China's basketball team was whacked by a surprisingly disciplined US in the Olympics, but there is a vast, and growing, appetite for the sport in the country

By David Goldblatt   September 2008

In the dying and much disputed seconds of the men’s 1972 Olympic basketball final, the Soviet Union sunk a long, arcing shot to snatch the gold from the US. In that cold war era, American bitterness was compounded by the sense that the Soviet threat was real and duplicitous. By Barcelona in 1992—the first post-amateur Olympics—the arrival of the US “dream team” of NBA players stood for the triumph of American capitalism and culture over the sclerotic Europeans and the now broken socialist economies.

US dominance in both global economics and Olympic basketball is now in question. Untouchable in 1992,…

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