This is a movie I almost wish I loved less. It's hard to argue with a lot of the intelligent complaints I've heard from others; the film is very Hollywood, with manipulative music, some clunky dialogue, heavy doses of sentimentality, etc
But, as a true story, it earns its happy ending. The story really was almost this dramatic in real life. And the bottom line is it is very effective and affecting film.
Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper are great, and the film is full of lots of nice touches of time, place, and character.
Some familiarity with basketball as a sport helps, but isn't essential. This is more a film about small-town life,
and leadership under pressure.
In the end I would argue (with an embarrassed cringe) , sometime Hollywood and well-intentioned schmaltz really, really works.