The Miracle on Ice. Larry, Magic and Michael. The raised-fist salute. The Munich hostage crisis.
Photographer Neil Leifer documented all of those Olympic moments and more, though the 73-year-old is best-known for his shots of Muhammad Ali.
Leifer, who is putting hundreds of photos from his personal collection up for auction this weekend, reflected on some of his most memorable Olympic images:
1984: Leifer with Cuban president Fidel Castro and boxer Teófilo Stevenson. (IMAGE HERE)
Leifer: In 1984 the Olympics were in Los Angeles. Time Magazine rolled the dice on a very expensive photo shoot, traveling around the world and shooting athletes like picture postcards (Carl Lewis in front of the Statue of Liberty, a Soviet weightlifter in front of Red Square, an Egyptian discus thrower in front of the Sphinx, the Indian field hockey team in front of the Taj Mahal, etc.).
No other people were in the pictures. Except this one for Stevenson.
I went to the Cubans and said that Fidel Castro was in fact the picture postcard of Cuba. He would be the only person other than the talent that would be in any of these pictures. They went back and forth with Time, and the Cubans eventually came and said that President Castro agreed to do the shoot.
When I got to Havana, maybe it was just for political reasons because it was President Castro, they brought half the Olympic team to the stadium when I was shooting. They didn’t want to offend the basketball team, the volleyball team. They brought in most of their best athletes.
So I photographed most of the group with Castro, but what I really was there to shoot was Stevenson. The highlight was, at the end of the session, I asked Castro for my picture with him, which I do with all my subjects, and he said yes. I have a few hundred pictures of me with various subjects, but this is the best one without question.
The Cubans later would boycott the 1984 Olympics, so the photo never ran.
1992: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan (IMAGE HERE)
Leifer: For a Dream Team preview package for Newsweek. I had 20 minutes with the three of them for a pretty simple cover shoot. It was in San Diego. Michael Jordan had a tee time, so he told me when we came in that we have 20 minutes. He was absolutely wonderful for 20 minutes and, bingo, he was out the door at 21 minutes.
1992: Unified Team wrestler Aleksandr Karelin with a cooked turkey (IMAGE HERE)
Leifer: I was assigned to do something for the official program for the Barcelona Olympics. My recollection was I shot that in Pittsburgh, at a Russian family’s home.
1972: Munich Hostage Crisis (IMAGE HERE)
Leifer: I got woken up by a phone call from my assistant, whose husband was one of the producers for ABC for the Games. Something’s going on at the Olympic Village, and they thought we should get there.
Quite frankly, it sounded like nothing to me. I said, you know, I just can’t imagine it’s going to turn into anything serious. We’re working too hard, and I wasn’t there to photograph a break-in at the village. I never imagined it would become the story. Who would have imagined what happened.
I didn’t get out to the Olympic Village until all the press arrived. The village was closed, and I shot from outside. I shot pictures of the German police, who at one point were dressed in athletes’ warm-up clothes, so they looked like athletes, but they were carrying submachine guns.
I’m Jewish, and my mother lost her family in the Holocaust, so this was not a very good time. It ruined what had up to then been a wonderful Olympics. After that I just wanted to get the damn thing over with.
1980: Miracle on Ice (IMAGE HERE)
Leifer: I remember it wasn’t the final game. Maybe I’m too old about it, but I’ve never understood the big deal [with the Miracle on Ice]. Because, quite frankly, I remember a much more amateurish team beating the Russians in 1960. The Finnish team America had to beat in the  final was no slouch, either. You can get very nationalistic, I was sure as hell rooting for America, and for me it was a great game and a wonderful moment in sport.
But I think what Eric Heiden did in Lake Placid, winning five gold medals, was much more impressive. I thought Eric Heiden was the story of the Games, Which is taking nothing away from what [the hockey team] did.
1976: Soviet weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev (IMAGE HERE)
Leifer: He was a wonderful character. There are people who like the camera, and he was one of them. You couldn’t take a bad picture of Alekseyev. I photographed him at home in Russia for Sports Illustrated for another piece in addition to the Games. He had a personality and an ego like Muhammad Ali.Follow @nzaccardi