William Friedkin’s Blue Chips Was Perfect – And Almost Ruined By Bobby Knight

For the uninitiated, Bobby Knight is known as one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all-time. At the time of his retirement, Knight had won 902 NCAA Division I men’s college basketball games. Though that was enough to hold the record at the time, he now stands in fifth place as most winning coach in that division. Knight is most famous for coaching Indiana University from 1971 to 2000, typically seen in a signature red sweater, shouting at officials, and occasionally throwing chairs in anger. Nick Nolte shadowed Knight while preparing to play Pete Bell in “Blue Chips” and borrowed some of his saltier traits, so it only seems appropriate that his Western University team eventually came to square off with the Hoosiers. However, Knight’s reputation for winning wouldn’t be sidelined simply because the film’s script said Indiana University had to lose.

Basketball games for “Blue Chips” were filmed in Case Arena in Frankfort, Indiana, with thousands of extras in attendance as the crowd. The location was actually suggested by Knight himself. Friedkin explained to Grantland:

“I told Bobby Knight, ‘I want to play real games. Where do I go where I can do that, draw a crowd, and not pay the crowd?’ Without a blink, he said, ‘You go to Frankfort, Indiana. Go to Frankfort High School.’ Frankfort was almost like the spiritual home of Indiana basketball. They had about five or six thousand seats. We played three full games in front of a live audience from which I was drawing all the basketball footage. We drew the audience just because of the caliber of the players and coaches, like Rick Pitino, Jim Boeheim, Jerry Tarkanian. We had turn-away crowds and something like 10,000 visitors and out-of-towners in Frankfort who came in to get a glimpse.”

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