Men's Basketball Final: Cold War (Yahoo! New Zealand Sport)

As far as sporting farces go, the 1972 gold medal basketball match between the USA and Russia at the 1972 Olympics takes the cake.

With 10 seconds left on the clock USA, who were down one point, went on a fast break, missed the shot - but earned the foul. Two shots could clinch the gold. American guard Doug Collins nailed both and the team burst into joyous celebration. Then insanity stepped in.

The Russians protested that their attempts to call a time out in-between Collins' shots were ignored. As a means of appeasement the Russians were given a time out with one second left on the clock - until a FIBA representative stepped in and ordered the clock to be wound back, giving the Russians three seconds to complete a miracle.

They flubbed it. Russia's pass went out of bounds and the American celebrations started anew. Until more representative interference signaled that Russia would be given a do-over.

The clock was in the process of being reset when play resumed so Russia got a third chance to win the game. And that's what they did.

The American team were so mentally distracted that they missed a hail mary pass that connected with Russian, Alexander Belov, who promptly guided the ball through the net and put a full stop on possibly the biggest farce in Olympic history.

America's silver medals remain unclaimed.