|'Hoosiers 2: LeBron Goes to Hickory'|
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist
Establishing shot of lonely, one-lane highway in rural Indiana. An old Studebaker drives along the road at dusk on a cold, dreary autumn day. The camera closes in on the car's driver, NORMAN DALE, a down-on his-luck coach who is trying to turn his life around before he reaches the end of the line.
As DALE's car fades from view over the horizon, we hear a pounding beat that grows progressively louder and louder and louder until the theater's Dolby sound system itself shudders and gives out. The music is Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and it's coming from a fully-loaded Hummer 2 speeding down the highway at 90 miles per hour. The camera closes in on the car's driver and we see our star's face clearly as the movie's title appears on the screen:
"HOOSIERS 2: LeBRON JAMES GOES TO HICKORY"
INT. Hickory High School gym. COACH DALE meets the TEAM.
COACH DALE: Huddle up, huddle up. Let's see the hand I've been dealt. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Only seven players.
OLLIE: More like six. I don't count. I'm too short and I'm not any good.
COACH DALE: Have you ever considered anabolic steroids? Dianabol? Androstenedione? Even Creatine? For crissake, don't they even have one friggin' store selling nutritional supplements in this one-horse town?
INT. barbershop. COACH DALE meets the HICKORY HIGH BOOSTERS.
BOOSTER 1: I don't care what kind of defense the coach runs. What we need to do is get the Indiana State High School Athletics board to ignore the Ohio State ban and allow LeBron to play for us. As soon as he puts on a Hickory jersey, we go straight to the top of USA Today's Top 20, ESPN2 starts broadcasting our games and we get an invite to play in the Dream Classic -- along with the $10,000 appearance money.
BOOSTER 2: That $10,000 would go a long way to making up for the cuts to the athletic department in the state education budget. Which means we could golf a little on the weekends again, instead of holding these damn car washes and selling raffle tickets.
BOOSTER 3: Selling raffle tickets sucks.
BOOSTER: 4: You better get LeBron, coach. Or we'll personally tie you to a rail and carry you out of town.
BOOSTER 1: We're just thinking of the kids, coach.
INT. of high school. VICE-PRINCIPAL MYRA FLEENER confronts COACH DALE in the hallway about LeBron ...
FLEENER: I want you to stay away from LeBron.
COACH DALE: What business is he of yours?
FLEENER: LeBron is my business. His father ran off when he was little, and I help his mother look after him. He's a real special kid, and I don't want a high school basketball injury messing that up. An NBA star is treated like a god in this country, and we have high hopes for cashing in on that. Real high. We took out some serious loans against his future earnings as a pro, and we don't need him blowing out his ACL a couple months before the draft while running line drills for a 50-year-old washed-up coach who's either running away from something or doesn't have anywhere else to go.
COACH DALE: What I'm doing here has nothing to do with you.
FLEENER: Everything with LeBron has to do with me. And I don't need any coach filling his head with outlandish ideas about getting a basketball scholarship and going to Wabash College. He's not going to college. He's going right to the NBA. He's going to be the No. 1 pick, he's going to get a $5 million shoe contract, he's going to get out of this little hick town and, most importantly, he's taking me along for the ride.
EXT. LeBRON is playing "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" on his Hummer's driver's-side PlayStation. COACH DALE hears Dennis Hopper's voice, looks puzzled briefly and then shrugs.
COACH DALE: You have a special gift, LeBron. It's not the school's, it's not the townspeople's, it's not Myra Fleener's, it's not the team's, it's not mine. It's yours. To do with as you choose. Because that's what I believe, I can tell you this.
COACH DALE gets down on his knees in front of LeBRON.
COACH DALE: I will do anything it takes -- anything! -- to get you to choose to play for me. I will pay you any amount, get you any car, hook you up with any woman. I'll howl like a dog and run through the town naked.
LeBRON continues to rack up kills on GTA.
COACH DALE: You've got to take pity on me. I'm a 50-year-old has-been. I have seven players on the team, and one of them is a midget. The town hates me. The vice-principal despises me. I need you desperately. [He beings whimpering.]
LeBRON continues to rack up huge kills on GTA.
COACH DALE: I need you, LeBron. No one knows it yet, but I've been banned from 17 different leagues for assaulting a player. For crying out loud, I just hired the town drunk to be my assistant. This is my last chance. I'm begging you. Please, please, oh God, please. [He curls up into a fetal position and begins weeping uncontrollably.]
LEBRON: You say something, man?
EXT. of cornfield. COACH DALE leans on a fence post mulling his future. MYRA FLEENER confronts him with a skeleton from his past ...
FLEENER (Reading from a sheet of paper): "Norman Dale, coach of the national champions, was given a lifetime suspension to be honored by all NCAA signatories for physically assaulting his own player in the final game of the season. This was the latest incident involving the successful but volatile coach. The New York and New Jersey state high school boards stated they would abide by the suspension as well."
COACH DALE: How did you find out about that?
FLEENER: I googled you. I found 1,028 references to your throwing a vase at the athletic department secretary, including 254 stories by Andy Katz alone.
COACH DALE shakes his head in resignation.
FLEENER: And glancing through your resume, I see you're still claiming a Master's degree from New York State University Syracuse.
INT. town hall. LeBRON stands in front of a town meeting and makes an important announcement.
LeBRON: I have something to say. My agent figures it's time for me to start playing, so that I will be assured of being the No. 1 pick.
Crowd shot of EVERYONE applauding wildly.
LeBRON: But I only play if coach replaces his lame-ass "four-passes-before-you-can-shoot'' rule with the "always-pass-the-ball-to-LeBron'' rule. I only play if I get to keep my Hummer and my Wes Unseld throwback jersey and my Gale Sayers throwback jersey. I only play if Hickory dumps the Chuck Taylors and starts wearing Nike. Or Reebok ... And finally, I only plays if my posse gets to sit on the bench.
MALE BOOSTER: But there's not enough room. The bench is only so long.
ELDERLY WOMAN BOOSTER: I say that if the town drunk can sit on the bench, there's room for LeBron's nice friends!
MALE BOOSTER: Let's see a show of hands. Everyone in favor of letting LeBron's posse sit on the bench, raise their hand.
Crowd shot of EVERYONE raising hands.
MALE BOOSTER: It's settled. LeBron plays and his posse joins him on the bench.
COACH DALE (smiling): If we run out of room, Ollie can sit with the pep band.
Crowd shot of EVERYONE cheering wildly.
With inspirational music swelling, we see a montage of LeBRON sinking basket after basket, Hickory winning game after game and the team flying all over the country for games in Los Angeles, Philly, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, New Jersey, Miami, Chicago and Cleveland. We see the boosters applauding madly. We see MYRA FLEENER cheering next to her mother in the stands. We see OLLIE getting bumped aside by a saxophonist.
Music fades as we see COACH DALE get ejected from a game. He leaves SHOOTER, his assistant, in charge. SHOOTER calls timeout and draws up a play for Hickory, providing ample evidence that while his cabin has neither indoor plumbing nor electricity, it still somehow gets ESPN and ESPN2 ...
SHOOTER: Everyone huddle up. OK, we're in zone offense against their matchup 2-3. Now, their bigs are not especially mobile north/south, especially from the low blocks. Our 4 will upscreen to the elbow, giving us a pick-and-pop up here at the pinch post. If they double down, make sure that if they don't "show" quick enough, we take it straight to the rack. Everyone got that? OK -- team!
The music builds again as we go back to the montage. We see shot after shot of LeBRON appearing on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, ESPN THE MAGAZINE, GQ, MAXIM, FORTUNE. We see clips of LeBRON being interviewed by LETTERMAN, LENO, O'BRIEN, LARRY KING, BILL O'REILLY, CHARLIE ROSE, JAMES LIPTON..
The music briefly fades as we see the set of JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE, where KIMMEL sits alongside his guest host for the week, STEPHEN BALDWIN.
KIMMEL: We tried to get LeBron James but he's not giving any interviews. Instead, we've got a very special treat for you. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Kirstie Alley!
The music builds again and we're back to montage. More shots of LeBRON scoring and Hickory winning. Quick closeup of downtown store with sign out front that reads: "WIN FRIDAY NIGHT, FREE SHOES,THROWBACK JERSEYS SATURDAY MORNING. PLAYERS ONLY."
The montage finally ends with LeBRON slamming home a basket and shattering the backboard to send Hickory to the state title game.
COACH DALE: Buddy, hold this under the grill guard. What is it?
BUDDY: Eighteen feet.
COACH DALE: Eighteen feet. Strap, put Ollie on your shoulders. Buddy, measure from the top of the sun roof. How far?
BUDDY: Ten feet.
COACH DALE: Ten feet. I think you'll find that LeBron's new ride is even larger than the Hummer 2 his mother gave him.
COACH DALE: LeBron, you're going to act as a decoy, and we're going to get the ball to Rade, who should be open for the final shot.
LeBRON: You want LeBron to be a what? A decoy? Are you nuts? LeBron has scored 42 of our 54 points. LeBron has shot 86 percent since he joined the team. LeBron was in every scene of that inspiring 10-minute montage. And you want Rade to take the final shot? Coach, LeBron doesn't mean any offense, but what the hell have you been smoking?
RADE: LeBron's right, coach. That is just plain stupid.
WHIT: Buddy's dad wouldn't call such a bonehead play, even when he was three sheets to the wind.
BUDDY: Did you bet against us or what?
STRAP: What the f--- are you thinking?
OLLIE: Give me the rock!
COACH DALE: Shut up, Ollie. All right, LeBron. You take the shot. Just don't get hurt.
LeBRON: I won't.
The TEAM takes the court. RADE passes the ball in to LeBRON, who twists his knee horribly while dribbling past his defender. We hear the knee snap but he still sinks his shot. Hickory wins, but LeBRON collapses on the court in agony, his right knee horribly mangled.
No one notices. The HICKORY FANS celebrate on the court and MYRA FLEENER walks up to COACH DALE, who is examining LeBRON's knee.
COACH DALE: I'm sorry about that, Myra. It looks like a complete ACL and MCL tear. I've never seen anything like it, not even during naval combat, when I was a chief petty officer the past 10 years. I'm afraid he'll never play again.
FLEENER: Don't worry about it. We took out insurance on him, and it pays off immediately. Plus, we sold the film rights before the state tournament started. I'll cash the checks first thing Monday, and then we can blow this stinking backwater town.
COACH DALE: That's great!
FLEENER: Kiss me, you fool!
They embrace and walk off the court arm-in-arm. LeBRON moans in agony as OLLIE accidentally steps on his knee.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.