It's ellection time, and mayor George Sitkowski (Bruce Dern) is standing for re-ellection. It's difficult, because his main opponent is young and popular. He decides to go for a stunt, hiring a she-elephant for his first political meeting. Many people go to the meeting to see it, but she dies, and Sitkowski needs to get rid of it secretly. However, a journalist (Edward Cunnigham)decides to broadcast the news live, so that the stunt becomes bad publicity for Sitkowski, while his men are trying to get rid of the dead animal throwing the corpse into the abandoned mines.
Tom Daley (Martin Sheen) arrives. He meets Sitkowski, his brother James, who is the campaign director (Stacy Keach), wealthy enterpreneur Phil Romano (Paul Sorvino) and retired coachman Delaney (Robert Mitchum). They won the 1954 Pennsylvania Estate basketball championship back at high school. They meet to celebrate it, but there is one more player missing. This one never appears, and later the audience will learn that he had played it so tough that he ended sending to hospital one member of the runner-up team, pressured by Delaney's instruction.
Romano doubts if Sitkowski can really make it to the city council this time, because of his policy of keeping the old buildings, like the old high school and the never-used-anymore train station. He'd like to open a shopping mall instead of making a museum. They drink and remember their happy times when they were young. At one moment, James tells everybody that Mariam, Sitkowski's wife, has been going to bed with Romano, and that everybody knows. Sitkowski has doubts whether he can keep on accepting Romano's money for his campaing -he's his main contributor-. The coachman wants them all to pull together and fight re-election, but it seems impossible.
Romano phones Shermen, the younger and more handsome politician who is running for mayor, offering to finance his campaign as well. He is dismissed jockingly, and his attempt to blackmail Shermen because of a communist cousin of his ends in complete failure. Tom refuses to write the speeches for Sitkowski's campaign. He drinks too much, showing that he's an alcoholic. Sitkowski phones his wife, who tells him she has been unfaithful in order to get the money to finance his campaign. James offers Romano himself to stand for mayor's office, wanting to have the opportunity of leaving his badly-paid position as high school headmaster.
Tom leaves the reunion after having seen Romano taking some cocaine. James and Sitkowski fight each other. However, in the end, coach Delaney will put the tape of the old game when t hey won the championship and they all decide to leave their differences aside so as to work for Sitkowski's profit. Even Tom comes back to Delaney's to do his part of it.