2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Al and the 1972 Team USA basketball loss to Soviets

TULSA  - Tulsan Hans Helmrich has been a sports fan all his life.

So you could imagine his excitement when at age 13, he was picked to be a ball-boy for the USA Men's basketball team for the Olympics. He was there for one of the more famous games in Olympics history. More on that in a bit.

So, how did Hans get the assignment? He was a good ball boy, and at a recent Tulsa Shock practice he showed us the keys to being good at the job.

Deliver Gatorade without spilling

"Cayden. You and Al don't overfill the cups," warned Hans.

Handing a player a towel is not as easy as it would seem

"You want the towels over the shoulder, not around the waist or not around the bottom, over the shoulder. That way the guy has his own discretion as what to do with it."

Rebounding practice shots. Passes have to be executed correctly

"You want the two-handed chest pass Al, nothing soft," advised Hans. "You blend in. It's seamless."

All great advice.

Joking aside, it was Hans attention to detail that landed him his job in '72 and his assignment as a ball-boy for the 1972 USA vs USSR gold medal final, with former Oklahoma State head coach Henry Iba leading Team USA.

You know the game, the one where the refs gave the Soviets three different chances to inbound with just seconds left to score the winner.

"We felt like we had been ripped off. We felt like that was our game, we won it, and we couldn't speak the language. It was just total chaos," recalled Hans.

After the loss, Team USA refused to accept their silver medals.

"And guys were crying, everyone's upset. And at that point in the locker room, people were shouting and yelling. At that point they started talking about not accepting the silver medal, which they never did. And so, 40 years later the silver medal is some bank vault."

Coach Iba refused to talk about the game for the rest of his life.

"His wife died not long after that. And those two events really put him in a depression. He was really hurt by the defeat," said Hans.

Adding insult to injury, Iba had his wallet stolen during the game.

Despite how that game turned out, Hans still looks back on those times as precious moments.

"You knew it wasn't fair but, in the long term it made it a game none of us will ever forget."

Check out behind the scenes photos from our 2 for the Gold shoots. On your phone? Use this link bit.ly / bigalphotos to see the pictures.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

Think you can do it?!

2 for the Gold: Tulsa Curling Club helps Big Al and Cayden McFarland learn the Olympic sport 2 for the Gold: Tulsa Curling Club helps Big Al and Cayden McFarland learn the Olympic sport

Chess on Ice, as some call it, was invented in Scotland more than 500 years ago.

2 for the Gold: Big Al works with the Tulsa Oilers to show his stuff as an ice hockey goalie 2 for the Gold: Big Al works with the Tulsa Oilers to show his stuff as an ice hockey goalie

You're out on an icy island, being attacked by hard rubber disks that are frozen before games to make them even harder.

2 for the Gold: Big Al Jerkens, Cayden McFarland try Winter Olympics event Figure Skating 2 for the Gold: Big Al Jerkens, Cayden McFarland try Winter Olympics event Figure Skating

In 2012, Big Al and Cayden McFarland tried their hand at some of the more popular summer game events. Two years later, they're back giving the winter games a go

2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Al and the 1972 Team USA basketball loss to Soviets 2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Al and the 1972 Team USA basketball loss to Soviets

Tulsan Hans Helmrich has been a sports fan all his life. So you could imagine his excitement when at age 13, he was picked to be a ball-boy for the USA Men's basketball team for the Olympics.

2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Cayden plays PIG with Tulsa Shock player Ivory Latta 2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Cayden plays PIG with Tulsa Shock player Ivory Latta

Shots from the top of the key. Shots from behind the backboard. Shots that were bounced off the floor. Ivory Latta of the Tulsa Shock simply couldn't miss!

2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Big Al and Cayden take on Usain Bolt and the 100 meter race 2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Big Al and Cayden take on Usain Bolt and the 100 meter race

The 100-meter dash pits the world's eight fastest men together as they race for the title of "World's Fastest Man." That's not something Big Al nor I will be confused with. But it didn't stop us from trying!

2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Archery popularity rising due to London and Hunger Games movie 2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Archery popularity rising due to London and Hunger Games movie

The cable ratings for archery were huge and some attribute the sport's rise in popularity to the recent The Hunger Games movie.

2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: How high can Cayden and Big Al jump? 2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: How high can Cayden and Big Al jump?

The sport of high jump changed forever back in 1968. That's when Dick Fosbury came up with the jump that bears his name - the Fosbury Flop. So, that begs the question, can Big Al and Cayden pull it off?

2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Big Al tries backstroke swimming, Missy Franklin he is not 2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Big Al tries backstroke swimming, Missy Franklin he is not

The backstroke looks like it's a nice leisurely stroke, with the opportunity to possibly catch some rays at the same time. Not quite.

2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Big Al and Cayden do the shot put with Oral Roberts University 2 for the Gold Olympics challenge: Big Al and Cayden do the shot put with Oral Roberts University

Check out Big Al Jerkens and Cayden McFarland's latest Olympic try: the shot put.