The Insider

Mar 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

HBO to re-examine ’72 basketball controversy
Before there were Olympics judging controversies in ice skating, there was the 1972 gold medal basketball game, which the United States lost by 1 point to its Cold War rival, the Soviet Union, after officials turned the clock back twice in the last three seconds.
In a documentary scheduled for June, HBO Sports and Black Canyon Productions are going to immerse viewers in those three crucial seconds, which still stick in the craw of U.S. teammates. After the game, the team members voted not to claim their silver medals.
The players-who included current Washington Wizards coach Doug Collins and former Atlanta Hawks star Tom McMillen, a former U.S. congressman from Maryland-to this day still refuse to accept those medals. HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg said one member of the team has written into his will a prohibition against anyone in his family ever taking possession of his medal.
The Soviets “are still dumbfounded” that for the U.S. players “the bitterness is that deep-rooted,” Mr. Greenburg said.
“It will never go away,” he said. “This was the Olympic Games of Munich, which was a particularly harrowing Games without this.”
Midway through the Munich Games, Arab terrorists rushed the Olympic village and the building in which Israeli athletes were housed, killing two and taking nine hostages. By the time the horror had ended in a hail of gunfire at a Munich airbase, the dead included five terrorists, the nine hostages and one policeman. The Games were suspended for 24 days to allow for mourning. “This was a time when winning was even more important,” Mr. Greenburg said.
Finding `Hope’ in the Nick of time
Linda Ellerbee was surprised by much that she saw and felt in February when she went to Afghanistan to prepare a “Nick News” special report, which will debut at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Nickelodeon. “It twists your head around,” Ms. Ellerbee said of the contrasting images and conflicting experiences in a land full of villages that remind her of images she saw as a child in Bible school. “It was time travel,” said the seasoned, award-winning former network journalist. “You forget how much we take for granted.”
One of the things for which Ms. Ellerbee was not prepared went into the title of the half-hour report, “Faces of Hope: The Kids of Afghanistan.” A search for toys turned up one model of a Soviet fighter plane. Kids who effectively have no access to computers, movies, TV or radio play with sticks, with stones that can be used as jacks and in burned-out planes that testify to the many violent conflicts the country endured before it came under fire in the war on terrorism.
In homes where the families stay warm by gathering around a charcoal heater on the table (“They’re inhaling carbon monoxide”), where children may be more likely to work than to attend school and where even rice is almost a luxury, Ms. Ellerbee was served toffees and teas (“There was none for them”) and was welcomed with laughter.
“I concluded that there is just something in the human experience that will not let them give up hope,” said Ms. Ellerbee, who knows a bit about that subject herself. Her trip to Afghanistan coincided with the 10th anniversary of her diagnosis of breast cancer. “I’ve been good,” she told The Insider.
Ed Turner’s new challenges
Ed Turner, who helped found CNN but who constantly had to explain that he was “no relation” to founder Ted Turner, did battle with cancer last year and had this to say about the recent past and the future in an e-mail to The Insider:
“What is really tough is, vain as I am, having to admit to being eligible for Medicare and running around hospitals in those half gowns that would get a decent high school gym coach fired on the spot. Yeah, I had a tumor removed (blown out rather than frozen) and now some cleanup work, which sounds benign but is not unlike when your Mom orders you to clean up after a brother.
“A group of us is still working on final financing of the California News Service, the 24/7 all-California (and California-related international/national) news out of a nice new headquarters in Sacramento with bureaus around the state and actual serious, grown-up news talking about the war, power, etc.
“Will it go? Dunno. We have to fill about 30 million in commitments and it looks pretty good. Should know in short few weeks, maybe days. Then it’s westward ho for CNNers Ted Kavanau, Bill Shaw, Larry Register and me. I’ll be president of the net and chief slanter of the content.”