‘ER’: The Iconic Basketball Hoop Was Never Meant to Appear on the Show

ER is one of television’s greatest medical dramas. The TV show ran for fifteen seasons and won numerous awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award.

The series also made a star out of several of the cast members, including George Clooney. Clooney rose to the forefront of ER, and after he left the show, he went on to have one of the most lucrative film careers of any Hollywood celebrity.

Clooney was also instrumental to the success of the series, and it was due to one of his onset hobbies that led to the inclusion of ER’s iconic basketball hoop, which featured prominently in many scenes from the show.

When did ‘ER’ premiere on television?

George Clooney as Doctor Doug Ross, James LeGros as Dr. Max Rosher
George Clooney as Doctor Doug Ross, James LeGros as Dr. Max Rosher | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

ER first debuted on television in 1994, based on a story by the iconic writer Michael Crichton. The show follows the inner workings and personal and professional lives of a group of doctors working out of the emergency room of the fictional County General Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.

Based on some of Crichton’s own experiences as a medical student, ER resonated with viewers right out of the gate. 

ER often dealt with complex medical issues and was one of the shows responsible for reinventing the way that viewers looked at television medical dramas.

The series was noted for its realism and although many specific aspects of the medical profession were embellished a great deal for television, it still offered an intense look at the way that doctors and hospital staffers deal with real-life situations.

Over the course of the series run, ER won a staggering one hundred and sixteen awards, including the Peabody Award for excellence in television. ER went off the air in 2009, but it remains hugely popular in syndication with viewers all over the world. 

George Clooney rose to fame on ‘ER’

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The original cast of ER included such talented actors as Noah Wyle and Anthony Edwards, but one particular cast member really stood out. George Clooney was relatively new to the world of acting at the time, and ER was his first major role.

Clooney quickly made waves with viewers, with his natural good looks and charm standing out in a big way. Clooney acted on the show until 1999 when he left ER to pursue other opportunities. 

Clooney was honored with several award nominations for his work on ER, including two Primetime Emmy Award nominations and three Golden Globe Award nominations.

Even after he left the show, Clooney never really left the memories of the series behind, and he ultimately returned to ER for two guest appearances before the show went off the air in 2009. 

The basketball hoop was accidentally incorporated into ‘ER’

George Clooney had a lot of free time in between takes, and the young actor began looking for ways to stay occupied when he wasn’t filming. As longtime ER viewers will recall, many of the show’s pivotal scenes took place around the basketball hoop outside the hospital’s ambulance bay.

Still, the hoop was only there because of Clooney’s habit of hitting the court in between takes and shooting a few hoops.

Eventually, according to Elle, Clooney asked for the hoop to be relocated to a more convenient location, but showrunners instead had it moved to where it could be picked up by the camera. Slowly, the hoop began getting incorporated into episodes of ER.

These days, Clooney has the capital to own many basketball courts — but it is likely that he looks back on his early ER days with fondness, when he was a young actor just trying to make it big.