Great Moments In Film – Hoosiers (1986)
Very loosely based on a real game, Hoosiers is a near perfect sports movie (if not for a very forced and unneeded love story). There’s the small town fanaticism, a redemption story with Gene Hackman’s Norman Dale, the good deed subplot (an alcoholic trying to go dry featuring Dennis Hopper), and an complete underdog tale in the championship game. In this clip, Hickory High (a small town in rural Indiana) is playing South Bend Central in the state title game. Not only does South Bend dwarf Hickory as a city, their team consists of three guys well over six feet tall (and very much taller than Hickory’s tallest player).
As we join the action, Hickory is down one after a courageous comeback in the final minutes. They steal the ball and have the final possession. As Dale tells them the play, the team doesn’t buy it. This is where Jimmy, by far the team’s best player and more or less Larry Bird in terms of style of play, speaks up in one of the best lines in sports movie history. What makes it much more powerful is that Jimmy is a quiet kid, only speaking three or so lines before it.
It should be noted that the actor that plays Jimmy (Maris Valainis), actually pulled the shot off on the first take, so the crowd’s reaction is completely genuine. Not bad for a guy who never really played before (yet somehow has an awesome stroke). I love this scene because it not only shows the jubilation of one side, but also the heartbreak felt by the other. I’ve been on the heartbreak side much more often than the other. That’s sports for you. They can feature all the emotions you could ever feel…all within a few hour time frame. And some people wonder why I’ve started to go gray.
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