In honor of the NCAA championship tournament, we recast perhaps the most accurate college basketball movie of all time, Blue Chips. It is such a special occasion that we even enlisted the help of our good friend Jon Hill (@JHillNahMean) from the Super Hoopers podcast (@TheSuperHoopers)! We talk about college basketball, Pauly Shore, and…well it’s pretty much all Pauly Shore.
Blue Chips is the story of Pete Bell (Nick Nolte), a once-successful college basketball coach who has decided to compromise his integrity and break the rules in order to recruit three blue chip prospects for one last shot at glory. This movie also marks the acting debut of Shaquille O’Neal and features Penny Hardaway, Bobby Knight, Rick Pitino, Larry Bird, and many more notable basketball figures from the 90’s.
Given the subject matter, it’s pretty surprising that the NCAA would allow so many of them to participate. The movie isn’t exactly a rebuke of the pay-to-play reality of college basketball. There’s very much an “everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we?” attitude about it.
Nolte went all in and invested a lot into preparing for the role. In addition to shadowing Bobby Knight during the 1992 Indiana Hoosiers basketball season, he wrote a 200 page novel on the back story of Pete Bell in order to get a true sense of the character. I would say he was largely successful, but I wonder how much of a fan Nolte was before this movie. This movie also has some quality auxiliary performances by JT Walsh (in one of his final roles), Ed O’Neill, and a pitch perfect turn by the incomparable Mary McDonnell. But make no mistake, this movie lives and dies with Nolte.
Intro (with Jon Hill): 0.00.46
Plot Recap: 0.25.55
Recast (with Jon Hill): 1.33.43