During the coronavirus shutdown, each day we will bring you a recommendation from The Post’s Peter Botte for a sports movie, TV show or book that perhaps was before your time or somehow slipped between the cracks of your viewing/reading history.
Hoosiers (1986), Rated PG
Streaming: Amazon Prime
Everybody loves a sentimental underdog story, especially in basketball in March, and this recommendation hopefully will fill some of the void left by the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“Hoosiers” wasn’t a massive blockbuster hit at the theaters, grossing barely $28 million in 1986-87, the same years Bob Knight’s Indiana team won the NCAA title. But this was a true underdog tale about an unlikely team from a tiny farming town in hoops-crazed Indiana going all the way in 1952. (It was loosely based on the Milan High School squad that won the 1954 Indiana state championship.)
Norman Dale, portrayed by Gene Hackman, was a former college coach fired for punching one of his players and hired more than a decade later to take over the basketball team at fictional Hickory High School. (The Indiana Pacers even have worn the school’s throwback uniforms in a few games in recent years.)
Along the way, Dale ticks off townspeople and players and takes great pains to stress the ideals of defense and teamwork, even finishing one game with four players — telling the referee “my team is on the floor” — to make an example of one player he’d benched for selfishness.
Dale even takes on Shooter — the alcoholic father of one of his players, in an Oscar-nominated supporting performance by Dennis Hopper — as one of his assistant coaches. But Shooter relapses and finishes the season listening to the championship game on the radio while hospitalized.
Quote of note: “I’ll make it.” — Star player Jimmy Chitwood (Maris Valainis), when Coach Dale calls for him to be a decoy for another player on the potential game-winning play in the state championship game. (34-year-old spoiler alert: Jimmy sinks it at the buzzer.)
Botte Blows: 4.75 out of 5.
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