Hickory Night

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Landry Long | The Echo

Tonight in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Indiana Pacers (6–6) host the Phoenix Suns (3–9) in what appears to be a normal regular season game.

If you make the trip to Indianapolis, there’s a good chance you’ll start to see more maroon than the usual navy blue the closer you get to the Fieldhouse.

When the pre-game clock hits all zeros and Paul George unbuttons his warmup before tip-off, the word “Hickory” will brace the front of the jersey in stitched gold lettering.

In the words of Gene Hackman, “Welcome to Indiana basketball.” Welcome to Hickory Night.

In the second season of Hickory jerseys inspired by the film, “Hoosiers,” a few of the actors from the film will be honored at tonight’s game during halftime. This includes Brad Long (Buddy), Steve Hollar (Rade), Maris Valainis (Jimmy) and a few others.

While the uniforms have received primarily positive feedback, others have held differing opinions. Here are the perspectives of a few of the actors themselves.

      1.What are your thoughts on the Pacers wearing the Hickory jerseys? 

Buddy – It symbolizes a tribute to what high school basketball has meant to the state of Indiana, from pee-wee basketball all the way up to the highest level.

Rade – This is a great connection for NBA and Indiana high school basketball and the fans.

Jimmy – A reminder of Indiana basketball and being a small part of the history made by Milan and all other teams, coaches and players that were fortunate to be involved.

  1.  Is there anything that you don’t like about it?

Buddy – (Jokingly) No, just wish they would do the slow to fast hand clap to start the game when they wear them.

Rade – (Jokingly) No, other than I wish we had a cut on the merchandise sale.

Jimmy – Nothing, only that time continues on and it is the past but we move forward. To be mentioned in the future is amazing.

  1.  Why do you think the movie continues to have the impact that it has today so many years later?

Buddy – It is a true sports story about redemption and second chances where the underdog overachieves and comes out on top, a successful recipe for timeless acclaim.

Rade – Most everyone who is a sports fan has seen “Hoosiers” and has some kind of emotional connection to the story.

Jimmy – I think we love to think of the underdog achieving something we never imagined we could achieve.

  1.  Have you received a jersey from the Pacers organization, or has anyone reached out to you about it?

Buddy – Not yet . . . .

Rade – Not yet; hopefully Friday . . . .

Jimmy – No jerseys, but having the team wear replica jerseys is a thrill.

  1. If there’s anything you could change about the uniforms, what would it be?  

Buddy – Might have added the old gold silk warm-up tops for the Pacers to wear in pre-game warm-ups. 

Rade – I would have liked a little longer shorts in the original Hickory uniforms for all the viewers’ sakes!

Jimmy – Nothing, except I think there are many more worthy teams to be honored.

  1. Any additional comments?

Buddy – Great idea/tribute by the Pacers organization. Solidifies the phrase, “Only in Indiana.”

Rade – I think the Pacers have gotten excellent marketing and sales on the uniform idea and they are the only team that could have pulled it off. Thanks to their organization.

“Photograph provided by Brad Long”