It was dubbed “A Knight to Remember.”
35 years later, it is a night that is difficult to imagine.
Only in Indiana could the confluence of several factors combine to produce the largest ever indoor basketball crowd in history — for an exhibition game.
Indiana head basketball coach Bob Knight was the head coach of Team USA in 1984, and before they headed to Los Angeles for the Olympic Games, his American squad played a series of exhibition games.
On July 9, 1984, the stop was Indianapolis.
Of course the locals wanted to see Knight and a Team USA roster that included IU star guard Steve Alford and Michael Jordan.
But the opponent on this night was intriguing as well. Facing Team USA would be a group of N.B.A. stars that included Indiana native Larry Bird, and former Hoosier stars Quinn Buckner and Isiah Thomas.
Finally, the venue itself was part of the local appeal. The game would mark the much anticipated first ever event at the Hoosier Dome.
When it all came together, a capacity crowd of 67,596 broke the American attendance record at the time for a basketball game, and the world record at the time for an indoor basketball game.
Perhaps equally as surprising today as the spectacle of the event itself was the outcome.
Consisting entirely of college players, Team USA won the game 97-82. Alford had seven assists in the game.
Knight had no doubt that evening that an exhibition event of this magnitude was only possible in Indiana, telling the crowd this:
”I heard today that basketball was invented in Springfield, Massachusetts, and that is true,” Knight told the crowd. ”God had it invented there so we could import it to Indiana.”
You can watch a recorded statement by President Reagan shown at the game, player introductions, and some of the action in the video below.
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