Good news, ’80s-movies-and-fundamentals-loving dads who root for the Indiana Pacers! Starting next season, you’ll be able to rock authentic team gear that also pays homage to an Indiana basketball institution more widely known and celebrated in popular culture than the state’s college or pro teams. Get your Hackman on, George Hill:
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Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, it’s pretty cool that George Hill is paying tribute to the 1993 film ‘The Meteor Man’ by dying his hair an unmistakable Golden Lords blonde.” And yes, of course, we all agree about that. You’ve gotten sidetracked, though. Check out the uniform!
Yep, that’s right — on several occasions next season, the Pacers will take the court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse wearing replicas of the Hickory High uniforms from the 1986 film “Hoosiers,” a fictionalized retelling of the story of the 1953-54 Milan High School Indians, who won the Indiana state boys’ basketball championship despite an enrollment of just 161 students. From the Pacers’ Tuesday announcement of the deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, which produced “Hoosiers,” that’ll bring the red-and-gold strip to life:
For the 2015-16 season, the Pacers will introduce the Hickory uniform to be worn in select regular season games as part of the NBA Pride Collection. The Hickory uniform is a tribute to the rich tradition of basketball in the State of Indiana and will serve as inspiration to fans everywhere that no matter how improbable the challenge may be, amazing things can be accomplished through teamwork, determination, heart and hustle.
“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,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “Hoosiers takes us all back to a special place and time.” […]
Todd Taylor, Pacers Sports & Entertainment’s Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing, championed the idea of wearing the Hickory uniforms and worked with MGM on the partnership.
“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,” said Taylor.
The jerseys are not currently available for sale, according to Matthew Glenesk of the Indianapolis Star, but you’d imagine that’ll change in relatively short order … especially since, according to the team, “the Pacers will wear the Hickory uniform during select games over the next several seasons,” and not just during the 2015-16 campaign.
How they’ll look on an NBA court in 2015 very much remains to be seen — if nothing else, the Atlanta Hawks will now have some company in the mix-and-match jersey-and-shorts department — but it’s a neat idea to tap into the state’s love of its basketball mythology, especially if it opens the door to even further excavation of Indiana’s rich love of hoops.
“The Miracle Men of Milan are just one of the legendary basketball stories in the state,” sales and marketing VP Taylor said in the Pacers’ statement. “We look forward to drawing attention to the contributions and accomplishments of those that have made Indiana synonymous with the game of basketball.”
Here’s hoping that means a follow-up nod to Crispus Attucks High School, the Oscar Robertson-led squad that won the next two Indiana state championships after Milan, becoming the first all-black team in the country to win a state title. That’s a legacy well worth celebrating, too, even if you wind up being one year late on its anniversary.
News of the “Hoosiers”-inspired unis, of course, led fans and writers to start calling for their own movie-themed NBA kits:
I’m guessing Ray Allen’s “J. Shuttlesworth” nickname jersey is the closest we’ll get to a “He Got Game”-themed uniform on an NBA court, but we can dare to dream. And if we’re just putting our hopes and dreams out into the world on this one, let’s see if we can get someone to go with some Beers jerseys from “BASEketball.” Might as well have something good come out of the sleeved jersey era, NBA.
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