Nearly two decades after Indiana University fired the iconic former coach, two years since his unceremonious departure from ESPN, and just months removed from Knight’s full-throated political endorsement of Donald Trump, Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim (a Bloomington native and noted Hoosier basketball fan) takes a long look at The General’s increasingly bizarre—and sad—legacy.
Bobby Plump’s last-second shot in 1954 made Milan High School an Indiana legend. But it was a low-budget, feel-good film—released in November 1986—that sealed the deal for a national audience. IM goes behind the scenes of Hoosiers with the filmmakers, actors, and observers to tell the story in their own words.
Countrified, commonsensical, pragmatic, average, “basketball-crazed”—Indiana is one of only a handful of states with its own distinct brand, one that may not be sexy, but has proven powerful and dynamic enough to endure for two centuries. Too bad it barely captures the state’s true complexity.
The record shows that four decades ago, a wayward boy quit basketball at IU, then at another school. But that’s only part of the story. Larry Bird’s decision to walk away from the game didn’t just become the stuff of legend—it set him on the path to become one.