Robert Mitchum replaced William Holden. Holden was being considered for this picture but passed away shortly before the film started production and could accept the part.
Robert Mitchum was accused of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial after he gave an interview to "Esquire" magazine in February 1983. He later claimed he had been reciting the views of his character from this film, and the interviewer had failed to realize this.
At the premiere Robert Mitchum assaulted a female reporter and threw a basketball that he was holding (a prop from the film) at a female photographer from "Time" magazine, smashing a camera into her face and knocking two of her teeth out. She sued him for $30 million for damages. He eventually paid her his salary from the film.
Jason Miller was working as an actor on the set of The Exorcist (1973) and engrossed in his priest role when he was informed that he had won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for writing this film's source play "That Championship Season".
William Friedkin was the film's original director but withdrew from the picture. Writer Jason Miller, who had previously worked as an actor with Friedkin on The Exorcist (1973), took over the directing duties.
Flashback scenes were filmed to make the play more cinematic. But producer Menahem Golan ordered those scenes to be deleted.
The film was made and released about ten years after its source play of the same name by Jason Miller had been first performed in 1972. Miller also wrote the screenplay for the film and its teleplay remake That Championship Season (1999).
Writer-director Jason Miller insisted that the film's exteriors be shot in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in which his play was set. He was a native of Scranton and wanted to give something back to his hometown.
In 2011, Jason Patric, writer-director Jason Miller's son, appeared in a Broadway revival of "That Championship Season", playing the role of Tom Daley, the alcoholic.
Many residents of Scranton, Pennsylvania, worked as extras and background artists on the film.
Cast member Paul Sorvino was in the cast of the 1973 Broadway production and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He recreated his stage role for this film and directed the TV-film version 17 years later, That Championship Season (1999), and also played the role of "Coach".
Jack Lemmon had tried to get James Cagney to star in his directorial debut " Kotch " and when that didn't work out, he also tried to get him to star in his planned version of this in the early 70's.
The Broadway production "That Championship Season" by Jason Miller opened at the Booth Theater on September 14, 1972, and ran for 700 performances until April 21, 1974.
The film's source "That Championship Season" play by Jason Miller won a number of key awards in 1973 including the Pulitzer Prize in Drama; the Tony Award for Best Play; the Drama Desk Award; the New York Drama Critics Circle Award; the Outer Critics Circle Award and the National Summer Stock Award.
The setting of the film's source "That Championship Season" play by Jason Miller according to its introduction read "1973. The Coach's house, somewhere in the Lackawanna Valley".
"That Championship Season" made its debut off-Broadway at the Estelle Newman Theatre on May 2, 1972, and ran for 144 performances until September 3, 1972. The production then went from off-Broadway to Broadway.
The celebratory reunion occasion that was being celebrated was the 24th Anniversary of winning the team winning the basketball premiership.
The salary of the movie's stars and director was US $250,000 each plus percentage points of the profits.
The success of this film helped to "legitimize" the reputation of Cannon Films, which up to this point had produced mostly low-grade action films, cheaply produced "T&A" pictures and softcore sex films.
The year that the Scranton High School basketball team won the state basketball championship was 1957.
No soundtrack for the picture was ever released despite the music score being composed by Bill Conti of Rocky (1976) fame.
The film reportedly injected about $2 million into the economy of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where the exteriors were filmed.
First of two films of Jason Miller's play "That Championship Season". The second, That Championship Season (1999), was made 17 years after this one.
The film was originally scheduled to film in late 1981 with William Holden and Nick Nolte, but those plans fell through.