The life of Alexander Belov was short, but very bright. Bursting into the world of domestic basketball at a young age, he managed to become a legend in 10 years of his career. Unfortunately, not only the start was fast, but also the finish of the great basketball player, but first things first.
Soviet basketball player was born on November 9, 1951 in the city of Leningrad. He was joined to the basketball ranks by Vladimir Kondrashin, who, while still a beginner coach, went to various schools in search of talented children. Noticing the 10-year-old Sasha, the coach had difficulty, but still managed to persuade him to try his hand at basketball. It was Vladimir Petrovich Kondrashin who was able to instill in young Belov a love for this game and became his mentor.
At 16, Alexander made his debut as part of the Spartak team (Leningrad). Despite the fact that the guy was far from the tallest growth in the team (exactly two meters), he went to the center positions and could compete with higher opponents thanks to the ability to choose a position, mobility and a good jump. In the attack, Belov could successfully pass to the ring or throw from long distances, but his main function in the team was still protective.
According to Alexander Gomelsky, Belov, possessing a very high and powerful leap, was always on time in the right place. His jump was truly amazed. Sometimes it seemed that Belov just hung in the air. And when he got up in a protective stance, slightly bending his legs and raising his elbows, there was simply no space left under the shield for opponents. He did not allow anyone to the shield. In addition, Alexander Alexandrovich Belov from young nails felt the game well and excelled in tactics. All this allowed him to compete with opponents, whose growth was 10-15 cm more.
It was Gomelsky who invited the young basketball player to the USSR national team. At that time, Alexander was only 17 years old. A year later, in 1969, the USSR men's national basketball team played at the European Championship in Naples. The 18-year-old was the main discovery of the season. At that time, he managed to play in the Major League for three seasons, so he had enough experience not only to confront seasoned players, but also to take on a key role in the team, if necessary for the game.
The teams of Yugoslavia and the USSR reached the decisive battle of the above championship. At the final game, they went shoulder to shoulder. In the second half, our team managed to break away, gaining 12 points in 8 minutes. Opponents for this half scored just 2 points. Belov scored three points, but his main merit is high-quality defense. It was thanks to Belov that the team was able to successfully play the half, which determined the outcome of the entire competition.
The team-mate and namesake of Alexander Sergey Belov in his book “Moving Forward” did not miss the opportunity to pay tribute to the hero of our conversation today. According to Sergei, with his growth, Alexander was not a center, but a heavy striker, nevertheless he shone in the fifth position. Defense, as Sergey observes, is the basis of basketball, and Alexander frankly succeeded in it. He was perfectly prepared and took on the most important tasks of the team. According to his colleague, it was Vladimir Petrovich Kondrashin who managed to instill in Belov a love for the game in defense, which requires a special philosophy.
The fact is that the lion's share of players tries to score more in the ring to be noticed, while defense and the ability to give the right pass to the “front line” is an equally important task, which not everyone can adequately feel. Alexander Belov is a basketball player with a capital, if only because he is one of the few who knew how to enjoy playing on the defensive.
USSR Championship 1970
At this championship, Spartak showed a new game tactic that was built from defense. This decision allowed the team to win silver and excite the team of CSKA, which over the past five years did not know its peers. But in “Spartak” then there was only one star - the youngest player in the team.
Team coach change
At the 1970 World Cup, the USSR team was able to win only third place, unfortunately losing to Brazil (64:66) and America (72:75). After the failed championship, the same Kondrashin became the national team coach. Over the seven years of coaching, he brought the team several brilliant triumphs. The main one was the legendary event for Soviet basketball - the victory of the team at the Olympic Games in Munich.
With the arrival of Kondrashin in the national team, the successes of his beloved student began to multiply. In 1970, Belov won the World Universiade. And even despite the fact that the Union did not consider this tournament prestigious, a victory in it costs a lot, because the struggle for primacy was waged with the Americans.
Second European Championship
For his second European Championship, Alexander Belov felt more confident in the national team, including due to the high confidence of the coach. The national team played well in the tournament and in the final exceeded by 5 points the Yugoslavs, who at that time were world champions. Belov on average scored 8.5 points per game, and this despite the fact that he was a defender.
The preparations for the Munich Olympic Games were very serious for the USSR national basketball team. After all, there the team had to meet the strongest rival - the US team, which has not known defeat at the Olympic Games since 1936. Despite the abundance of good players in our team, only two-meter Belov could defend his shield from American professionals powerfully.
As predicted, the USA and the USSR teams went to the finals of the Olympics. This legendary match, when the American team lost their gold to the Union, will be remembered for a long time. Ivan Edeshko’s pass and the throw on the ring of Alexander Belov, which marked the fiasco of the Americans and the incredible success of Soviet basketball players, entered the story especially clearly.
The moment that determined the victory at the Olympics
The denouement of the great match was extremely intense and interesting, so it is worth recalling it in detail.
Throughout the bout, Soviet basketball players scored a small margin. However, at the end of the second half, the Americans approached them. 10 seconds before the end of the match, the score was 48:49. M. Paulauskas gave a pass to Belov, who was under the shield of the enemy. Alexander missed, but picked up the ball. For the team to win, he only needed to hold the ball to the siren. But Belov did not have the opportunity to control the ball, so he gave a pass to Z. Sakandelidze. The latter was tightly held by opponents, and he had to foul. As a result, the US team received the right to 2 free throws, both of which were perfectly implemented.
A few seconds before the end of the game, the Soviet team had practically no hope of victory. But when Belov looked at the coach and saw his calm look, the basketball player realized that not everything was lost. After that, the Soviet team threw the ball into the game twice, and both times ahead of time the siren sounded. The third time the ball hit Ivan Edeshko, who gave an excellent pass to Alexander Belov, who was at that moment in midfield. Outwitting the Americans and breaking through to the ring, Belov made a very accurate and accurate throw. The ball was in the ring, and the final siren sounded. So the USSR became the champion of the Olympic basketball games. In his book, Sergey Belov calls this moment “supreme justice” for the efforts made by the team towards triumph.
In general, at the Olympics, Alexander Belov, a basketball player who knew a lot about defensive defense, was very productive - an average of 14.4 points and 5 rebounds per match.
After the Olympics, Belov became famous all over the world and received an invitation to the NBA, but the man chose to bring titles to his club and the national team of his native country. Thanks to Belov and Kondrashin's coaching, they won more than one victory. Alexander Alexandrovich Belov was the core of the team, and not just a leader. He was the main creator of all the victories of the above collectives.
The Olympic Games in Montreal brought the USSR national team only bronze. But Belov’s personal indicators have increased. He became the most productive player in the team, scoring an average of 15.7 points per game. Players of such a level as Alexander, the world knew not so much. He did not care with whom and against whom to play. Thanks to game intelligence and technical talent, a basketball player could find a common language with anyone. And the man was very artistic on the set. He bathed in the love of fans and drew strength in it for new achievements.
“Look at the scoreboard!”
At times Belov allowed imposing walks around the site during the game. In one of the games in which Spartak was opposed by a frankly weak team, Alexander literally walked along the "battlefield." The fans wanted a beautiful game from the basketball player, and one of them shouted: “Let's play!” After several such appeals, Belov looked towards the screaming fan and answered: “Look at the scoreboard!”
After the Olympics in Montreal, a dark streak began in the life of the great athlete. He began to complain more and more often about his health, and more precisely, about chest pains. In this regard, the coach in each match gave Alexander a few minutes of rest.
A bright moment in Belov’s life was his acquaintance with Alexandra Ovchinnikova, who was a successful basketball player. Between them there were bright feelings, which did not interfere with constant training at different bases. According to Alexandra, Kondrashin was very happy with such an alliance and even encouraged Belov to consolidate his feelings more quickly by marriage. The girl was very modest and positive, so she perfectly compensated for the explosive nature of our hero. In April 1977, the couple legalized their union.
Premature Sport Exit
In early 1977, Spartak went to play in Italy. During customs clearance, a bag of prohibited goods was discovered, which was attributed to Belov. In the world of the press, a huge scandal broke out about this. Alexander was stripped of all titles and suspended from basketball.
Soon, Alexander Belov, a basketball player for whom the word “honor” was not an empty set of sounds, refused the offer to play for CSKA. But in the forces of A. Ya. Gomelsky was to return all the titles of a famous athlete. But he did not agree, because he felt his duty to the team that made him a star.
At the end of 1977, the man was again allowed to play for Spartak, and in August next year for the national team. But the basketball player was no longer able to go to the World Cup, since his physical condition had worsened by that time. Before the training camp, he felt a strong malaise and went to hospital.
The great athlete was treated in several hospitals in Leningrad, but the doctors did not come to an accurate diagnosis. Kondrashin brought him foreign drugs, but they also did not help. As a result, on October 3, 1978, the greatest Soviet basketball player Alexander Belov died. The cause of death, as it turned out later, was covered in heart disease. Many thought that it was precisely because of active sports that the man’s condition worsened, but doctors unequivocally stated that thanks to basketball, Alexander Belov, without realizing it, extended his life. And when he took a break, the sarcoma of the heart still overpowered him.
This was the end of the biography of Alexander Belov, who passed away before he lived only 27 months before his 27th birthday, but his memory remained for a long time.
Moscow journalist A. Pinchuk, whom Vladimir Kondrashin considered the best basketball columnist, once noticed that human life is measured not only by years, but also achievements. It turns out that Alexander did not live such a short life, because he managed for 26 as much as many do not have time for 80.
Achievements of A. Belov
- Honored Master of Sports.
- Gold at the 1972 Olympics
- Bronze at the 1976 Olympics
- Gold at the 1974 World Cup
- Bronze at the World Cup in 1970
- Gold at the 1969 World Cup, as well as 1971.
- Silver European Championship 1975
- Two-time winner of the Cup Winners Cup 1973 and 1975
- Gold of the USSR Championship in 1970 and 1971.
- Silver USSR Championship 1972-1974,1976,1978.
- Bronze of the USSR Championship 1969
- Silver Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR 1975
- 1970 World Universiade Gold
- Nations Cup 1974
- Intercontinental Cup 1975
- Gold European Championship among juniors 1968 and 1970
- Included in the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007.
- Order of the Badge of Honor.
Alexander Belov is a basketball player from God. He was a favorite of fans and caused them a real delight. But for each athlete, it is the spectator's love that is most valuable. Medals, participation in international tournaments, compliments by experts are very nice, but still secondary. And in the first place is always the recognition of those for whom you play. And Alexander Alexandrovich Belov played his game with a bang!