American Hoops


American Hoops

U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball from Berlin to Beijing

Carson Cunningham

528 pages
21 photographs, 17 tables


July 2012


$29.95 Add to Cart

January 2010


$40.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Those who avidly followed the on-court acrobatics and off-court celebrity of the “Dream Team” in Barcelona in 1992 would hardly recognize what passed as Olympic basketball fifty-six years earlier, when the United States first played the game in the 1936 Olympics. In those early days of men’s Olympic basketball, many teams lacked basic skills, games were played in the pouring rain, only seven players could suit up, and the rules allowed only two substitutions and no time-outs. How this slow, low-scoring sport became the breakneck game that enraptures millions worldwide is the story of American Hoops.

In this fascinating history of Olympic basketball on the world stage and behind the scenes, Carson Cunningham presents a kaleidoscopic picture of the evolution into the twenty-first century of one of America’s most popular sports. From clashes between celebrated egos and thrilling action on the court to the intense rivalries of the cold war and technological advances in everything from television to off-court sports equipment, American Hoops follows the fortunes of Olympic basketball in the United States and internationally as it developed and emerged as one of the most challenging and entertaining sports in the world.

Cunningham traces how the modifications made by the International Olympic Committee and the International Basketball Federation have transformed the game of basketball over the years, from the Berlin to the Beijing Olympics. His book offers a remarkable view of the changing world through the prism of Olympic sport.

Author Bio

Carson Cunningham is a visiting assistant professor of history at DePaul University and the author of Before the Curse: The Chicago Cubs’ Glory Years, 1870–1945.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables



1. American Hoops Help Establish the International Standard in Berlin

2. U.S. Basketball Advances the Game in Postwar London

3. Cold War Basketball's Opening Salvo in Helsinki

4. The Russell Model Revolutionizes the International Game in Melbourne

5. Basketball Accelerates as Robertson, Lucas, and West Run through Rome

6. In Liberal, Postwar Tokyo, Teamwork, Television, and a Cold War Tilt for Gold

7. Haywood Shines as Satellites, Cable, and Shoes Mature in Mexico City

8. Mayhem in Munich 

9. Trademark Speed Returns in Montreal, Then Politics Intrude in Moscow

10. Air Jordan Arrives and The General Delivers in Los Angeles

11. Oddities in Seoul Open the Lane for the Dream Team

12. Basketball Bedlam in Barcelona

13. From Underrated Greatness in Atlanta to the Gap Closed in Athens

14. Reclamation in Beijing



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