The fact video was seen from Russia's 78-56 win Monday over New Zealand was hardly surprising since the Americans face the Russians in a World Championship quarterfinal here Thursday. But head man Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching staff also had something else for the players to view.
"They just showed us the video of the game when they had three chances to score and they scored and they won,'' Team USA forward Kevin Durant said of the players watching tape from the controversial American loss to the Soviet Union in the 1972 Olympics. "Hopefully, we won't have to watch any of that stuff (Thursday), and we have a good game.''
Thursday's game will mark 38 years to the day when Team USA suffered that stunning 51-50 loss Sept. 9, 1972 in Munich. Krzyzewski figured it couldn't hurt to show his players that Americans haven't always considered international basketball fair.
"We've addressed the fact that the game was played 38 years ago,'' Krzyzewski said. "That five (of Team USA's players) are 21, I don't think they remember it as well. But it is what it is. It will be a negative in the way the U.S. looks at it forever and should be. And it will be in some ways a positive for those who believe in fairy tales.''
The 1972 game, won by the Soviets on a length-of-the-court inbound pass with three seconds left that resulted in a game-winning layup after officials had overruled two failed Soviet inbound passes, was discussed earlier this week by Russian coach David Blatt. Blatt, a U.S.native who now holds dual American-Israel citizenship, talked about crying while watching the game as a 13-year-old in Massachusetts. But he now says he believes Russia was justified in winning the game and the Americans weren't cheated.
"He's Russian,'' said Krzyzewski, who was in the Army stationed in South Korea when that game was played. "He coaches the Russian team. So he probably has that viewpoint. His eyes are clearer now because there are no tears in them. It's great. Whatever he thinks, he thinks. It really has absolutely no bearing on what we're trying to do (Thursday). Absolutely none.''
The landscape is obviously very different now, with the Soviet Union having broken up in 1991 and NBA players now fixtures on Team USA rosters. But just to be sure there will not be a repeat of 1972, guard Derrick Rose has a solution.
"We can't let it get to that point where it's a one- or two-point game,'' Rose said. "We've got to take control of the game real soon.''
Although the Americans are a heavy favorite, the Russians do provide a different challenge than they've seen so far in the tournament.
"Their average height is 6-8,'' Krzyzewski said. "They'll be the biggest team that we've played against, and their center position has been an amazingly productive position with (Alexander) Kaun and (Timofey) Mozgov.''
Mozgov recently signed a three-year, $9 million contract with New York. But that's not enough to impress Team USA center Lamar Odom.
"We've got guys who have big contracts in the NBA,'' Odom said. "Basketball is basketball. It makes no difference.''
Odom later said the Americans would use team defense to swarm "their Wilt Chamberlain.'' He didn't mention, though, if Russia's Big Dipper is Mozgov, averaging 12.5 points or Kaun, averaging 11.5.
When it comes to Russian centers, Team USA players did see before practice footage of Hall of Famer Alexander Belov scoring that winning layup 38 years ago in Munich. But Durant likes to think the Americans have done just fine in basketball since then.
"We came back around,'' Durant said. "We had a Dream Team (in 1992). We had the '08 Olympics (in which the Americans won gold). So we're doing all right.''
Now, the Americans are looking to get by Russia and add the 2010 Worlds title to the trophy case Sunday.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson