Maryland's tallest congressman, has said it...

TOM MCMILLEN,

July 29, 1992

TOM MCMILLEN, Maryland's tallest congressman, has said it is to his credit he's not an ideologue. Yet even some of his supporters admit to having trouble detecting any internal compass that guides his politics after six years in office.

A compelling article in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated won't do anything to dissuade that sense of the congressman.

The piece is about the 1972 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team. Mr. McMillen, then a star forward at College Park, played for that team, the one involved in that great controversy surrounding the first international loss -- ever -- by an American basketball team. Only the U.S. team did not really lose.

VTC The magazine article recalls how the Americans were up 50-49 when time expired in their game against the Soviet Union, only to have officials twice restore seconds to the clock to give the Soviets a second and third chance to win. The U.S.S.R. finally scored on a fluke play to take the gold medal.

The U.S. team felt so cheated its members refused to accept their silver medals as a protest. The 12 medals remain in a vault in Switzerland. Twenty years later, the team has refused appeals by the Olympic committee to finally accept them.

The article, by Gary Smith, details how one player, Kenny Davis, has instructed his wife and children in his will never to accept or receive that medal.

Doug Collins said his bitterness over the politics and cheating has swelled over the years even as he achieved professional success. "Nothing comes close to the feeling of a 21-year-old kid playing for his country and winning the gold, nothing comes close to the feeling I should've had if they hadn't taken it away from me."

Another player, Kevin Joyce,is a stockbroker who still wears the gold charm his mother gave him as a well-meaning substitute. He vows to forever block the required unanimous vote of the team to accept the medals even if that means his fellow mates can't give the medals to their children as some of them would like.

Here's what Tom McMillen said: "That was a long time ago. . . I didn't feel cheated. . . I didn't feel bitter. . . The whole issue is not a pressing concern in my life. . . I'm going to have to cut this short, because I have a plane to catch right now. If they want to send the medal to me, fine -- but I don't want it, it's still anticlimactic."

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