Sport: Seventh Straight

It was embarrassing, to say the least, when experts predicted that the U.S. basketball team would finish no better than second or third in Mexico City. After all, the game is an American invention, and the U.S. had never failed to bring home a gold medal. It had never even lost a game in Olympic competition (overall record: 66-0).

But this year's team hardly ranked with the star-studded squads of the past. Notably absent were the top two collegiate players of last season: U.C.L.A.'s Lew Alcindor, who pleaded pressure of studies, and Houston's Elvin Hayes, who chose to sign a $440,000 contract...