So, there were three seconds left on the scoreboard. Everyone was ready and the Soviets started again.
Now, referee Artenik Arabadjan managed to attract everyone's attention. When Edeshko was waiting behind the base line for the ball, McMillen approached the line, ready to take a position just in front of the Soviet player. But at that moment, Arabadjan stretched out his hand towards Tom McMillen. McMillen took that gesture as an order to move back, so, being afraid of getting a technical foul, he stepped back about one meter. Now, the referee executed a beautiful, brand new (probably just invented) gesture. He pointed to the line, then to the ceiling. Being completely confused, the American player moved backwards again, and finding himself in an empty space, moved right to cover Paulauskas, who had participated in the previous version of the attack.
Edeshko had no one in front of him, so he gave a long pass (by the way, he didn't step on the line, as some have speculated) to A. Belov, who managed to beat the two Americans as he caught the ball and made an easy layup.
The game was over. The Soviet Unionâ€™s team had won the Olympics.
For a cold-minded investigator, one question still remains about this episode: â€œWhat was Arabadjan trying to say?
Later, he claimed that he was trying to show McMillen that his hands should not cross the line, but why, all of a sudden, did he decide to teach the rules to the American? Hadnâ€™t that referee just seen Tom a minute ago, in that same position and obviously aware of the rule? That first gesture (hand stretched out) remains unexplained. Also, Arabadjan clearly saw that american interpreted his gestures incorrectly, but made no attempt to explain himself better, apparently satisfied with the result.
Now, why Arabadjan did all this? Conspiracy theory lovers are invited to speculate.
Another question regards how significant that referee's help was to the Soviets in the last episode. Well, it was significant. Was it decisive, however? No. Even without McMillen in front of Edeshko, there still existed only a very small chance for the Soviet team to score.
It's time to pay attention to Edeshko and his behaviour before McMillen moved backwards. He went several meters back, so he could still throw the ball far ahead, into the American half. That means he would do the long throw even with Tom standing in front of the line.
Look at the evolution of the Sovietsâ€™ last attack. There were enough â€œlast attacksâ€� to be able to talk about evolution, people!
First try: There was a short pass, then a dribble to the center line, followed (probably, as there was no time to move further) by an attempt to score from the center line.
Second try: The idea was to make a long pass, but, with McMillen just in front of Edeshko, the pass was sent to another player nearby. This player, in turn, attempted a long pass.
Third try: There was another improvement - Edeshko stepped back, so he could throw a ball far ahead.
The Soviets were learning with every failure! It's a really smart thing to do! That's a very good coaching job by Kondrashin!
At the same time, it was very unfair to the Americans. Why didn't they try to improve their defense? They also should have been given a few more rounds!
At the end of this article, I would like to address several alleged infractions committed by the Soviet players during their last play.