The night Steve Alford and 1984 Olympic basketball team crashed Indiana high school prom

Buried in the pages of the 1984 Eastern Greene high school yearbook are two photos, two unbelievable photos that, if they didn't exist, most people wouldn't believe this story. This story of a magical night where basketball superstars crashed a prom and danced with giddy, awestruck teenagers.

Steve Alford was one of those players at that prom 39 years ago though he said he doesn't remember it. "No idea what that is," Alford texted to IndyStar with a laughing emoji when one of the two photos was sent to him. But the proof is there in black and white inside the yearbook of this rural, tiny school in Bloomfield, Ind.

Sitting on a couch inside Indiana University's Memorial Union, where Eastern Greene's prom was being held in 1984, is Alford. He is surrounded by teachers and smiling girls in glamourous gowns.

Somewhere roaming that prom, too, were Wayman Tisdale, Sam Perkins, Alvin Robertson and Leon Wood. And somewhere not far from the prom (and maybe at the prom though no one can confirm that) were Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley.

Players from the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball trials, which were held in Bloomington, crashed the Eastern Greene High prom, much to the surprise of some very happy attendees.

The 1984 men's basketball U.S. Olympic trials had descended on IU's campus that April in Bloomington, where IU coach Bob Knight was at the helm of the Olympic team.

As 72 Olympic hopefuls spent six days in Bloomington, long before cell phones and social media, they incited a buzz across campus and beyond when they were spotted at local hangouts.

Some days, the players would go for a scoop of ice cream at the Chocolate Moose or duck into a local McDonald's, inhaling four or five cheeseburgers at a time. Inside a tiny arcade in the student union, Malone, Perkins and Kenny Fields could be found playing Ms. Pac-Man next to students playing Tapper.

Jordan was rumored to have been at a Little 500 party at McNutt Hall, where the girl next to him had no idea who he was. Players were spotted at local movie theaters and miniature golf courses.

And on that weekend night in April 1984, the Olympic basketball hopefuls crashed a prom. They hadn't planned to invade a high school dance. They had no idea that prom was even happening.

But as they walked through the lobby of IU's memorial union that night, they heard the music.

'They got interested and went upstairs'

In 1984, Eastern Greene High held its prom in a party room at IU's memorial union 16 miles away from the school and a world away from the farmlands and pastures of country living.

The students dressed up like movie stars and made the 26-minute trek to a college campus ball room where there was posh decor, glitzy lights and blaring music. The prom was held in a room just up the the stairs from the entrance to the union.

As Olympic basketball players walked into the union that night "they got interested," said John Gliva, better known as Indy sports radio host JMV on The Fan and a graduate of Eastern Greene. "They heard the DJ and heard the music as they were hanging in the common area right next to the stairs."

Michael Jackson's "Thriller," Van Halen's "Jump," Prince singing "When Doves Cry" and Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It."

The players liked the sound of the music and went up the stairs and danced.

A photo from the 1984 Eastern Greene High yearbook shows the school's prom which was crashed by players from the U.S. Olympic basketball trials.

Eve Sparks was there at her senior prom. She watched in awe as giants of basketball − on the collegiate level at the time and many soon to be NBA stars − mingled among her classmates. Through the years, people have questioned whether Alford or Tisdale or Perkins was really at her prom.

"The USA Olympic basketball team coached by Bob Knight crashing our prom and dancing?" said Sparks. "This did happen and there’s a couple of pictures in our yearbook of this." To prove it.

Which players were there, Sparks can't say for sure beyond the photos.

Hours after the Eastern Greene prom, the Olympic cuts were made.

A night that lives on

The 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials were held April 17-22, led by the venerable Knight, who had to whittle the dozens of players down to 12, plus two alternates.

"The general is assembling his troops for what he believes will be his greatest battle," the lead sports story in the IndyStar on April 20, 1984, read. Knight went on to talk in a gushing way about what it meant to be coaching for his country.

"There isn’t anything I will ever do, anything I anticipate I will ever do, that I would like to do as well as this," he said at the time. "I’ll try to do it as well as I can and hope it’s sufficient. I can’t think of a greater honor."

Michael Jordan (left) spent some time in Bloomington in 1984 for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Knight had a big job to do, watching and analyzing these players and then, in the end, letting most of them go.

Those auditioning for Knight stayed in rooms at the student union and ate in the cafeteria. When they needed to get to practices, maroon vans crammed with lanky players could be spotted lumbering about campus.

Rod Humphrey was finishing up his junior year that spring at IU and remembers the buzz, the talk, the rumors that swirled about what these future NBA players were doing on campus.

"There were stories all over the place," he said. Humphrey saw plenty of it firsthand.

Each day, the team would line up in the student union waiting for meals. It was a narrow hallway with not much room to maneuver so some of the guys would step outside to soak in the sun, waiting for the line to dwindle.

Most of the players were nice enough to stop and talk to the fans and students who approached them for an autograph or handshake.

And many of them were nice enough to, on a whim, crash a high school prom becoming the main players in a legendary night at Eastern Greene High. A night that lives on in two photos inside a high school yearbook.

Follow IndyStar sports reporter Dana Benbow on Twitter: @DanaBenbow. Reach her via email:

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: 1984 Olympic basketball team, with Steve Alford, crashed Indiana prom