"Not a very happy time in my life," he said. "American team not come (because of boycott), and I am not very serious about preparations and I think there is no possible way we lose. But we do, and government breaks me this time, too."
But he continued to win Russian championships with his Central Army Club team, and when the national team failed to impress, Gomelski was back on the job. His strategy was brilliant. His team's execution nearly flawless. He had his gold medal.
His reaction: "I had not lived my life in vain."
The United States has brought in NBA stars in reprisal.
"The president of the Russian Basketball Federation called recently," Gomelski said, "and said, 'Alex, please return and take national team. We have problem in preparation.' But there is no reason for me to take this team. I am Olympic champion.
"In Seoul we had one strong Russian team. Today we have four teams--Estonia, Lithuania, Russia and Latvia. Only four teams in Europe are going to the Olympics, and there are seven or eight good teams, including Italy and Spain, in pre-Olympic qualifying tournament.
"I win Russian competition 15 times. Three world championships. I coach five Olympic teams and win gold. I don't want to lose my good name. Today there is little chance to get to Olympics and zero chance to win Olympic Games.
"When we play in Seoul I have team that has worked together for five years. I teach Arvidas Sabonis, Rimas Kurtinatis and Sarunas Marciulionis. These are great players. Every week we work minimum five days. We have special tactics. They are different from college style, but not that different from NBA."
The John Thompson-coached U.S. team took the court in 1988 with players such as David Robinson and Danny Manning.
"Thompson is good coach and this is very nice team that he has," Gomelski said. "People not believe it possible we win--only me. But I understand this is my last Olympic time. I have many Olympic competitions, but I have no gold. Before each game my boys watch Americans and the Americans crush opponents.
"Even the best Russian players are saying we are never going to cross the center line. The Americans have very good press defense . . . it is a good Thompson press defense. But Thompson had an idea in his mind on how the game was going to go, based on what happened in games before that.
"He didn't want to change this. He went straight ahead without adjusting. The coach has to feel how the game goes. That's what coaching is all about . . . I have written a book about it."
He has written a dozen books on basketball, but unfortunately for Thompson and his American counterparts, they are all in Russian.
Thompson's team, after trailing by 10 at halftime, lost to the Soviets, 82-76, in the semifinals.
Gomelski, 64, has come to the United States now to provide his son, Kirill, who is a junior-to-be at Rancho Bernardo High, a first-class education and to further his own basketball career.
"My dream," he said. "My boy finish at American college, and his future looks very, very nice.
"This is also first time that Russian and American players compete together in friendship. I bring five Russian boys, and they practice and play with five Americans. It is first step, and if successful, I wish to become more involved in basketball in America."
Last October, Gomelski joined Rle Nichols, the driving force behind High Five America, a basketball team that travels nationally and internationally with an anti-drug and alcohol message.
"Communication has become a tremendous challenge," Nichols said. "First you have to get him to understand, and then get his players to understand, and then you don't know if he's telling them what I told him or not."
Gomelski smiled in understanding. He remains his own man. He has had a wonderful career, and while the Olympic spotlight will no longer shine on him, he can daydream.
"We had awesome players in Seoul," Gomelski said. "If I could have same team that I had in Seoul, it would be very close game against NBA players. Very tough game.
"It is good time for the NBA players because Russian team, Yugoslav team and best teams in Europe are not at their full strength. No question that USA is going to win."