by Micah Hart
Count me among the many who were stunned by the Lakers’ loss to FC Barcelona in Thursday’s preseason clash in Spain. Maybe stunned is a bit harsh (after all, it was preseason), but still pretty surprising to see the two-time defending NBA champs taken down by a team from outside the NBA — even by a team as good as FC Barca, which won the Spanish and Euro league title last season (my mistake – Baskonia won the Spanish League last year, FC Barcelona last won it in 2009).
It got us to thinking though around the NBA.com newsdesk — does this rank among the all-time great international upsets? Here are a few memorable ones for comparison’s sake:
Russia 51, USA 50 – 1972 Olympic basketball
This one was a doozy — the first time the United States ever lost in international basketball competition, and one of the most disputed endings in sports history. Some from the U.S. side still refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the outcome — supposedly, U.S. team member Kenny Davis instructed in his will that no one in his family can ever accept a silver medal on his behalf.
USA 4, USSR 3 – 1980 Olympic hockey
Probably the greatest upset in American history across any sport, and Al Michael’s “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” gives me chills every time I hear it. Every time I talk about this game, I feel like I must bring up the fact that this was not, in fact, the gold medal game, but only a semifinal. The U.S. went on to defeat Finland to claim the gold two days later.