‘Hoosiers’ Ranked Sixth Among NESN.com’s Top 10 Sports Movies

Editor’s note: In the spirit of holiday movie-watching, we asked NESN.com readers to vote for their favorite sports film of all time. The debate was fierce, but the votes spoke for themselves. Finishing sixth among NESN.com readers’ top 10 sports movies of all time: “Hoosiers.”

Why it’s a top-10 sports movie: Basketball movies are tough to get right, since the game itself is so unscripted. But Gene Hackman and the Hickory Huskers recreate the feel of rural life and high school hoops, along with some of the most realistic basketball action sequences in movie history. Up until the final shot of the championship game, there’s always a sense that everything could snap for the team, the town and coach Norman Dale, whose story is loosely based on Milan High’s incredible run to the 1954 Indiana single-class state championship.

Biggest star: Hackman already was one of Hollywood’s leading men, having starred in “The French Connection,” “The Conversation” and “Superman.” But the Dale role became iconic, influencing how actors played coaches in nearly every sports movie since.

Marquee moment: “Coach Offers Shooter a Job.”

In need of an assistant coach, Dale goes to Wilbur “Shooter” Flatch’s cabin to ask him to join the bench. Shooter, played by Dennis Hopper, is thrilled at the prospect of getting back into the game — but not when Dale adds the stipulation that Shooter quit drinking.

Did you know? The first choice to play Norman Dale wasn’t Hackman. It was Jack Nicholson. When Nicholson couldn’t commit to the production schedule, Hackman was cast in the film, which was released in 1986.

Check back Saturday for NESN.com’s No. 5 sports movie ever

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