by Matt DeLaere, MarketingIndiana has long been a basketball hotbed. Just two years after the game’s invention in Massachusetts, the state’s first organized game took place, in 1894. By 1911, the high school tournament took form, and by the 1950s, hundreds of teams were taking part. Unlike most states, where schools were divided into classes based on enrollment, Indiana’s tournament covered all of the state’s schools, a format which continued until 1997, and which inspired a classic movie.
Hoosiers, released in 1986, followed the fictional Hickory High basketball team through a tumultuous season, ending with the small school winning the state championship in David vs. Goliath fashion. Loosely based on the state championship run of Milan High in 1954, the film underscored the importance of basketball in Indiana.
Now, in what may be the coolest specialty jersey ever, the Indiana Pacers of the NBA have unveiled a “Hickory Pacers” jersey that will be worn for select games next season to commemorate the movie’s 30th anniversary. As the team stated on its Twitter feed, “The Hickory uniform is a tribute to the rich tradition and history 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.”
There is no word yet on whether Jimmy Chitwood will be signed to a one-game contract.