The Real Hoosiers

Crispus Attucks High School, Oscar Robertson, and the Hidden History of Hoops

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By Jack McCallum

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The true story behind Crispus Attucks High School and the all-Black basketball team loosely depicted as the championship opponent in the beloved classic sports movie Hoosiers.
 
For far too long the mythology of Indiana basketball has been dominated by Hoosiers. Framed as the ultimate underdog, feel-good story, there has also long been a cultural debate surrounding the film. The Real Hoosiers sets out to illuminate the narrative that the film omits, the story of the unheralded Crispus Attucks Tigers, playing the game at the highest level in the 1950s in a racially divided Indiana.

After a crushing loss to Milan High School in the 1954 semifinal, which was the game that the final scenes in Hoosiers are based on, Attucks went on to win back-to-back Indiana state championships. That team was led by a young Oscar Robertson and coached by Ray Crowe, who fully recognized the seemingly insurmountable challenges of playing basketball in a state that was a bastion for not only the game but also the Ku Klux Klan.

Veteran sportswriter and the bestselling author of Dream Team, Jack McCallum, pulls back the curtain on that history, which is rich, far beyond the basketball court. The Real Hoosiers replaces a lacuna in the history of Indiana while dissecting the myths and lore of Hoosier hoops; placing the game in the context of migration, segregation, and integration; and enhancing our understanding of this country’s struggle for civil rights.

Genre:

  • “Much of the folklore surrounding the groundbreaking Crispus Attucks High School men’s basketball teams has been sanitized and glossed over. No longer. Jack McCallum, the dean of basketball journalism, does it again with The Real Hoosiers, exhaustingly excavating, and expertly crafting the true story of Hoosier basketball to deliver a jewel that resonates far beyond any hardwood court.”
    Jonathan Abrams, author of Boys Among Men
  • “I will never forget this team. This book. Crispus Attucks. Oscar Robertson. Willie Merriweather. Al Maxey. Ray Crowe. Remember these names. Our nation's best basketball scribe Jack McCallum has offered a profound and soulful account of one of the greatest basketball stories largely gone untold. May it never be written out of history again.”
    Mirin Fader, author of Giannis
  • “[A] rousing history….McCallum emphasizes how the story reflects the social currents of the era….The historical research on how housing discrimination, school segregation, and anti-Black violence shaped mid-century Indianapolis makes the Tigers’ achievements all the more noteworthy, and the accounts of key games excite….This stirring success story hits nothing but net.”
    Publishers Weekly

On Sale
Mar 5, 2024
Page Count
304 pages
Publisher
Hachette Books
ISBN-13
9780306830778

Jack McCallum

About the Author

Jack McCallum was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated for thirty years and is still on the masthead as a Special Contributor. The author of twelve books, including the New York Times bestseller Dream Team, he was elected to the writers’ wing of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005 and is best known for his coverage of professional basketball. His work has appeared in Best American Sports Stories, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, and other publications. He lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

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