The great Simmenthal lost Bill Bradley, replaced by Red Robbins, reached the Champions Cup final again in 1967 but lost, on the road, against Real Madrid. Still, the great era kept going in Italy, with a season marred only by a couple of losses and the “scudetto” won beating out the usual suspects of Varese and All’Onestà, the second Milano team. It was the end of an era when Simmenthal decided to rebuild around quality youngsters like Iellini, Brumatti, even Ferracini and some old warrior like Riminucci, Captain Pieri, Massimo Masini. Simmentahl new version in 1971, 1972 and again in 1973 finished the season tied for first with Ignis Varese. It lost the first tie-break game in Roma, won the second, won the Cup of the Cups in 71 and 71, before losing again the tie-break game in 1973 when it didn’t win anything. It was the team well represented by the great fighter Arthur Kenney, a role-player with no fear, one of the players capable to really show what an Olimpia player should be, especially in term of spirit. In 2013 his number 18 would’ve been retired, not just because Kenney was a great player and even better person but because he was the living example of how an Olimpia player is supposed to behave and play.
In 1973, on August the 2nd, Adolfo Bogoncelli lost the Simmenthal brand as main sponsor, Cesare Rubini left the bench and Sandro Gamba followed out the door. Innocenti was the team’s new name, Pippi Faina, an Olimpia man at the heart, was named head coach, the blue jersey are against the tradition but in spite of all of that and the signing of Brosterohous as an American, Olimpia finished in second place losing three games total during the all season. In 1976, when Cinzano became the sponsor du jour and the team used to play with two-color shorts, Olimpia won the Cup os the Cups again and still found a way to be relegated in the second division. From that relegations, emerged again one year later, with Pippo Faina in redeem mode. Before leaving the team, he was the one bringing in Italy the great Mike D’Antoni, the former Marshall University star in West Virginia, uncapable to find his nichè in the NBA (ad in the Aba as well). The new coach was an Americn named Dan Peterson.
Dan Peterson fron Evanston, Illinois, close to Chicago, wasn’t an American coach of much success in his country. He did well as an assistant coach at Michigan State, he was appreciated as a Delaware coach but was still waiting for a serious chance when used all his courage to accept the job as the Chile National Team coach, a very demanding and challenging job. He was coaching Chile when Virtus Bologna chose as its next coach Rollie Massimino, an up and coming coach in the States. But Massimino at the eleventh hour received an offer he couldn’t refuse to coach Villanova – where he was going to win the NCAA Championship in 1985 – leaving Virtus in deep trouble. The American agent Richard Kaner worked on a solution and through his good friend Chuck Daly – the first Dream Team coach – got to Peterson in that period when basically all the coaches are already set for the future. Peterson was free to leave Chile and accepted Gianluigi Porelli’s proposal on Virtus behalf. Dan Peterson Italian adventure was set to start.
In Bologna he won the championship, he establieshed himself as a coach, learned how to speak Italian and became the media darling. Bologna soon became like a fishbowl for him. And when he was called by Milano, with more tradition than Bologna but a less promising future, he signed with no hesitations and no regrets. “To me, as an American, Milano looked like New York”.
The rest is history: the so-called “Banda Bassotti” (every player was shorter than the opponent) made it to the Finals, losing to Virtus nonetheless, filling the seats in the big San Siro’s arena, next to the stadium. The team was built around Mike D’Antoni’s genius, promoting all the best players from the youth teams, like the Boselli twins, Francesco Anchisi and Vittorio Gallinari. The new era was born.
Olimpia made it to the finals in 1979, to the semifinals in 1980 and in 1981 again when he lost to Cantù when Antonello Riva exploded on the national scene and in spite of losing CJ Kupec and Mike Sylvester. Barely missing the opportunity to sign Kevin McHale (he came to Milano but when he was about to sign, left to go back to the Boston Celtics), Olimpia signed John Gianelli and so the team was almost ready to win. When the Gabetti family bought the team from Adolfo Bogocelli, the missing piece joined for the ride.