Olympic basketball gold medalist Mike Barrett dies

August 10, 2011 - 2:00 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Barrett, a member of the 1968 U.S. basketball team that won the gold medal at the Mexico City Olympics, has died. He was 67.

At 6-foot-2, Barrett was considered too small to play major college basketball and starred at West Virginia University Tech in the mid-1960s. He joined the Navy afterward and was part of an armed forces team that competed at the Olympic trials in Albuquerque. Members of the Olympic team were selected from various squads.

In a 2008 interview with The Associated Press, Barrett, who had retired as an account executive and lived in Nashville, said that walking out to a packed stadium for the opening ceremonies was overwhelming.

"I thought nothing in my life athletically is going to top this," Barrett said. "Then when you're on the medals stand for the ceremony and they raised our flag and played the national anthem, it shows how shortsighted you can be sometimes."

The Americans survived Olympic pool play, beat Brazil in the semifinals and defeated Yugoslavia in the gold medal game, 65-50.

"It was a fabulous ending for an opportunity to represent the country," he said. But he was too nervous to properly appreciate it at the time.

"The pressure that we were under, we had never lost a basketball game," Barrett said. "The media in general didn't think much of us. You went down and you were just focused on not embarrassing the country and not embarrassing yourself.

"You couldn't enjoy the moment. As I've gotten older, I've certainly learned to do that."

Barrett was named the 1968 Amateur Athlete of the Year in West Virginia. He would later play several seasons in the American Basketball Association. Tech retired his No. 10 jersey in 2003.

Barrett died Monday, according to his obituary from the Harpeth Hills Funeral Home. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and his brother, Scott Barrett, of West Virginia.