Alexander Belov - Soviet basketball player, Honored Master of Sports of the USSR, world and USSR champion, twice European champion, Olympic champion, member of the FIBA Hall of Fame, twice winner of the Cup Winners Cup and, finally, the winner of the Universiade.
Alexander lived a short, but incredibly bright and useful life. Once in the ranks of basketball players very young, he managed to become a legend in 10 years of playing career. Alexander Belov died very early, but many long-livers can envy his achievements. Today we will get to know some facts from the biography of this great athlete.
Alexander was born on November 9, 1951 in the city of Leningrad. He got into basketball in a very surprising way. The coach, young at that time, Vladimir Petrovich Kondrashin, went to schools and looked for talented guys there. Once he met ten-year-old Alexander Belov. The coach immediately saw in him a huge potential. To convince Alexander to try himself in basketball, Vladimir Petrovich had to work hard. Surprisingly, Kondrashin was actually the only coach for Alexander in his entire career.
At age 16, Alexander Belov played his first serious game for Spartak Leningrad. His height was exactly 2 meters, which, by the standards of basketball, is not much. Nevertheless, thanks to a special mobility, an excellent leap and strategic thinking, the guy was superior to higher opponents. In the attack, he successfully bypassed opponents and threw into the ring from different distances. However, the main task of Alexander was to defend his ring.
According to Alexander Gomelsky, thanks to the excellent jump, Belov always found himself in the right place. The basketball player jumped so well that it seemed as if he was hanging in the air. Having become a defensive stance, he occupied the main space under the shield, depriving the enemy of the chances of a successful attack. In addition, Alexander had the finest intuition and always built the right strategy, Gomel noted.
Career in the national team
When Belov was 17 years old, Gomel called him to the USSR national team. A year later, at the European Championships, the young player became a real sensation. By this time, he had successfully spent three seasons in the big leagues and could, if necessary, take the lead in the national team. During the final match of the championship, in which the USSR team played with the Yugoslav team, Alexander Belov almost decided the outcome of the match, scoring 3 goals in 8 minutes. USSR national team for the first time became a world champion.
In 1970, at the championship of the Soviet Union, “Spartak” showed a new, in terms of tactics, game that was built from defense. Then the CSKA team for the first time felt serious resistance. “Spartak” became the bronze medalist of the championship, but for him it was a victory.
The arrival of Kondrashin in the team
At the 1970 World Championships in Yugoslavia (the first ever championship that was held in Europe), the USSR national team won bronze. After such a failure, Vladimir Kondrashin became a coach. Over the seven years of his coaching, the team scored several brilliant victories, the main one of which was the championship at the XX Olympic Games in Munich.
When Kondrashin came to the national team, the finest hour struck for Belov. In 1970, he became the champion of the Universiade. Despite the fact that the basketball community did not consider this tournament particularly prestigious, the victory in it was expensive, because the US team was the opponent of the USSR in the final.
By the European championship in 1971, Alexander Belov, whose photo remained in small numbers to this day, was much more confident, because he had enlisted the special support of the coach. The tournament was held for the national team with a bang and gave her a victory. Belov earned per game an average of 8.5 points.
Almost immediately after the European Championships, the Soviet team began to prepare for the Olympics. Here they were to meet with the strongest rival on the planet - the team of America, which never lost at the Olympics.
As expected, the national teams of the USSR and America met in the final game. The match was very tense. Soviet players were in the lead from the very start, but by the end of the game the Americans approached them, and the score was 48:49. The ball was in the hands of the Soviet team, and until the end of the game there were only 38 seconds. Our players needed to attack or just hold the ball until the final siren. When the remaining time was 12 seconds, the ball was in the hands of Belov, he tried to attack the ring, but did not hit.
After the Olympics, Alexander Belov became famous not only in the Soviet Union, but also abroad. In America he dedicated fan clubs. But most importantly – basketball player invited to play in the NBA. For political reasons it was impossible. Belov continued to bring titles and glory to his club and the national team of the USSR. In 1973 was gold at the world basketball festival and the victory Cup "Winners ' Cup". The next year was the world championship.
The 1974 World Cup was very tense for the Soviet team. In the final match, the team had to defeat America with a gap of at least 4 points. The starting lineup of the Soviet team was very unexpected. Kondrashin brought the substitute players to the site, as well as Alexander and Sergey Belovs (namesakes). The logic of this decision was not only surprise, but also that three of the five players were defenders. As a result, the USSR team won with a score of 105: 94. Alexander Belov in this championship brought the team an average of 14.6 points per game. The implementation rate of penalties was 74.9%. He was excellent in defense and attack, for which he was awarded the title of the best centering championship.
USSR Championship 75th
In 1975, Spartak again won the Cup Winners Cup. But the main basketball event of the year was the team championship in the championship of the Soviet Union. Leningraders waited for this victory for a long time. For 5 years, Spartak has consistently received silver. Alexander Belov was especially pleased with this victory.
He was the core of a glorious team, led by a wonderful coach - Vladimir Kondrashin. He became the creator of the main number of victories of Leningrad. Alexander Gomelsky, CSKA coach and Kondrashin’s most implacable opponent, once recalled how during the game with Spartak, when there were only a few seconds left before the final, and all the strong players of the Leningrad team left the field for violations, he asked his players if they could they play against Belov alone. The answer was positive, but the result was the opposite.
XXI Olympic Games
At this Olympics, the USSR national team repeated the unpleasant history of games in Mexico City: it lost one match, which put an end to the prospect of reaching the final. The notorious Yugoslavs became the offenders of the Soviet team. As a result, our team won the second place on the podium. Despite this, Belov’s performance was higher than ever. For 6 games and 128 minutes on the court, he brought the team 94 points and became the best player in the national team. On average, he earned 15.7 points per game, made 5.2 rebounds and implemented 88.9% free throws.
“Look at the scoreboard!”
Alexander Belov, whose achievements give more than an eloquent description of this athlete, was a player, which is not so much in world basketball. He did not care with whom and against whom to play. High game intelligence and technical talent allowed the guy to find a common language with anyone. Complementing the image of the greatest player was the extraordinary artistry of Alexander. He bathed in the love of the fans and scooped out his life energy in his applause.
Alexander Belov is a basketball player who sometimes indulges in imposing behavior. He could play to the public at odds with the interests of the team. Of course, the player allowed himself this only when his team was clearly in the lead. Once, when Spartak fought with a weak rival and won him two dozen points, Belov began to literally walk around the pitch without burdening himself with the struggle for victory. The audience has always been waiting for a beautiful game from him, so they didn’t like that the idol was philonite. Exclamations like “Let's play!” Began to be heard from the rostrum.
Health Problems and Wedding
After the Olympic Games in Montreal in the life of Alexander began a dark streak. His health began to fail the basketball player, and he literally at every game asked the coach for a few minutes of respite due to severe chest pain.
At that time, Belov met a famous basketball player Alexandra Ovchinnikova. In her arsenal was the world and European championships. Between them, wonderful feelings flared up that somehow distracted Belov from health problems. The training bases of the men's and women's teams were in different places, so the pair could not meet often. As Alexander Belov’s wife later recalled, the trainer Kondrashin seemed to have specially contributed to their meetings. The girl was very restrained and modest, so she had a beneficial effect on the explosive nature of Belov. But this is only Alexandra's guess. Perhaps a caring coach thought first of all that Belov would not hurt to distract from problems. In April 1977, the pair formalized their union.
The case of customs
In early 1977, a case occurred that most likely led to the complication of a basketball player’s illness. Spartak went to play in Italy. At customs, a bag with prohibited substances was found, which was attributed to Alexander Belov. The press sparked a huge scandal out of this. As a result, the athlete was deprived of the title of master of sports, expelled from the USSR national team and banned from playing for Spartak.
Soon A. Gomelsky invited Belov to CSKA. He was able to give the player titles and a place in the national team. Belov refused, as he could not betray his own club and coach, who gave him a ticket to a great sport. For almost a year, Alexander was completely excommunicated from basketball. For a player of this level, such an early departure from a beloved sport has become a real challenge.
Return to sport
Only in December 1977, Alexander Belov was able to return to the "Spartacus". And in August 1978, he was again called to the national team to prepare for the World Cup. A basketball player could not go to the tournament. By this time, his health had deteriorated. Just a few days before the start of the charges, Belov was taken to the hospital.
Later A. Pinchuk, a writer and journalist who was highly respected by V. Kondrashin as a basketball commentator, noted that human life is measured not by years, but by what a person has done, and Belov is the most vivid confirmation of this. Given how much Alexander managed, it can be argued that his life was not at all short. Not every survivor can boast of such successful and intense years.
Most importantly, what has succeeded Belov, as Pinchuk says, – the love of the fans who greeted the athlete with unprecedented enthusiasm. “The medals, the titles, overseas travel – all this is secondary, and the recognition of those for whom play is priceless,” concluded Pinchuk.
During his short but incredibly intense sports career, Belov managed to become:
- Honored Master of Sports of the USSR.
- Olympic champion.
- Winner and champion of the world.
- Winner and champion of Europe.
- Two-time winner of the Cup Winners Cup.
- Eight-time winner and champion of the USSR.
- Universiade winner.
- Winner of the Intercontinental Cup and Nations Cup.
- The winner of the junior European league.
- A member of the FIBA Hall of Fame (posthumously).
- The owner of the order "Badge of Honor."
This basketball player has such an inspiring and at the same time sad biography. Alexander Belov is a terrific athlete who knew how to bring the most titled opponents to panic with the charm inherent only in him. His dashing game and inimitable artistry were remembered by world basketball for many years.