As part of the NBA Pride Collection, the Indiana Pacers will wear the Hickory uniforms immortalized in the 1986 MGM movie Hoosiers in selected games for the 2015-16 season.
Hoosiers told the story of the 1954 Indiana High School state champion team from Milan, Indiana. Although the film portrayed the team as an inexperienced group from the tiny town, in reality Milan high school had played in the state championship game in 1953. Still, the fact that the tiny school, with only 161 students, won the 1954 championship on a last-second shot by Bobby Plump—that would be Jimmy Chitwood to you moviegoers—made its 1954 story a legend in the state.
In the 1954 final game, Milan defeated Muncie Central, which had already won four state titles, 32-30. Milan was the smallest school to win the state title since Wingate High won in 1913 and 1914.
Hoosiers, written by Angelo Pizzo and directed by David Anspaugh, starred Gene Hackman as Coach Norman Dale, Barbara Hershey, and Dennis Hopper, nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar. Jerry Goldsmith, who wrote the score, also received an Academy Award nomination.
Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird said in a statement, “Our team will be honored to wear the Hickory uniforms because of the attention it will bring to the storied history of Indiana basketball and the success of that movie. Hoosiers takes us all back to a special place and time.” Todd Taylor, Pacers Sports & Entertainment’s senior vice president for sales and marketing, who collaborated with MGM on the idea, added, “Obviously, we revere the film, but more importantly we believe our organization, especially our players, embody the core message of the story – by coming together as a team, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.”
The Pacers will wear the Hickory uniforms in select games in seasons after 2015-16, according to Taylor. Taylor stated that the wearing of the Hickory uniform will be followed by other testimonials to Indiana’s rich basketball tradition, saying, “While the uniform being worn in front of a worldwide audience is thrilling, we are equally excited about the additional opportunities the partnership provides both on and off the court. The Miracle Men of Milan are just one of the legendary basketball stories in the state. We look forward to drawing attention to the contributions and accomplishments of those that have made Indiana synonymous with the game of basketball.”
Michael Brown, executive vice president for marketing at MGM, acknowledged, “With the 30th anniversary of Hoosiers approaching, MGM is excited to partner with the Pacers organization for this perfect tie-in. We look forward to seeing the players wear the Hickory jerseys with pride.”