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Dinner with Hoosiers' "Jimmy Chitwood"

Written by Mike White on .

By Mike White | Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 10:10 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS - So I spent part of my dinner tonight with Jimmy Chitwood, the famous basketball player in the movie "Hoosiers."

OK, so maybe it wasn't Chitwood. He's a fictional character in the movie. But I did have dinnere with the man whose Chitwood character was modeled after.

I was at Butler University today and decided to head a few miles from campus to a restaurant called Plump's Last Shot. It is owned by Bobby Plump, who in 1954 made the winning shot in the state high school championship game that gave tiny Milan High School the Indiana state championship. The movie Hoosiers is based around that Milan team and Plump's winning shot. The picture above is of Plump in his restaurant tonight.

What a great guy Plump seems to be, and what great stories Plump has to tell. He'll tell you how most of the "Hoosiers" movie is not true, until the final 18 seconds when he had the ball. "That part is true," he said. Plump, by the way, went on to play at Butler and was the school's all-time leading scorer at the time he graduated.

He'll tell you how the movie producers needed conflict to make the movie more attractive. So much of the movie is fictional, even the name Hickory High School. But it's definitely true that Plump hit that game-winning shot and Hinkle Field House.

Plump will tell you stories of how he wasn't even the star of that 1954 game and that he had only 10 points. "But I had 71 in the three games before that," he says with a hearty laugh.

He'll tell you of how that one shot changed his life forever. He'll tell you of how the Governor of Indiana has invited him and his 1954 Milan teammates to the Final Four this weekend in downtown Indianapolis. He'll tell you of how the court at Butler University today is still the same as when he hit that unforgettable shot.

Plump is now 73 and he'll tell you of how he probably does newspaper, radio or TV interviews 20 times a year when a media person comes by his restaurant. But he doesn't mind. He loves telling the stories. Today, it was myself and a writer from ESPN.com. CBS will be coming at some point in the next few days to his restaurant.

For me, it was tremendous to meet and talk with "Jimmy Chitwood." It was a thrill, really. I can't believe I caught up with him. Seriously, seeing Plump and some of the memorabilia he has in his restaurant from that 1954 team is absolutely spine-tingling for a basketball junkie. His 1954 letter jacket is in an Indiana museum. But his 1953 letter jacket hangs on the wall of the restaurant along with many pictures. There is a bracket filled out for the 1928 Indiana state championship. 1928? Yep, and legendary coach John Wooden played for one of the teams in the semifinals.

I'll give you some more of Plump's comments tomorrow. Below is a picture of Plump's Last Shot restaurant.

 

 

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