NBA All-Hollywood Team: All-Star Lineup of the Best Basketball Movie Characters
The NBA is locked up in a lockout, and in all likelihood there is going to be games missed this season—meaning us basketball junkies are going to have to be looking elsewhere for our basketball fix.
Whether you turn to international basketball, old games on NBA TV, college basketball and local high school games or just going down to your local playground and watching some streetball go down, some form of basketball is going to have to fill that void.
Well, I know that there haven't been any games missed so far, but I have gone into a basketball depression lately and have already started to fill the basketball void in my life with some of the best basketball movies of our lifetimes.
After watching He Got Game a few weeks ago on cable and then seeing Teen Wolf pop up a few times over the past few weeks, I've started to get back into the cheesy basketball movies full force.
There are some out there that I have seen a few times, but have high opinions of like Fast Break, and then there are those out there that I have absolutely no knowledge of like the classic The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, that I have yet to find on any type of viewing medium.
This recent influx of basketball cinema into my life has got me to thinking what the best possible basketball team is that I could put together from movie characters, and how they would fare against some of the best—so I put together my basketball dream team.
The only rules I went with to guide my selection were a) no picking people in legitimate documentaries (although extreme exaggerations are fine) and b) no picking players who played themselves in movies, otherwise I would just have a team of Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and so on.
I wanted to put together a team that would complement itself, not just a team of the best players, so I filled roles rather than just threw the best 12 basketball-playing characters on a team to see what happens.
Starting Point Guard: Shepard, "Above the Rim"
Warning: Naughty language in the above video. Shame on you Tupac.
NBA Equivalent: Jason Kidd.
I could have easily went with the younger, possibly more talented Kyle Watson from Above the Rim, who is actually in the process of getting recruited throughout the movie, but I wanted to go a different way here.
In the climactic scene at the end of the movie, Shepard comes midway through the game a la Willis Reed and absolutely tears up Tupac's team, draining jumper after jumper. He slices and dices his way to the rim and kills it on defense.
In the final play of the game, who guards the man taking the ball up the court? Was it the old man, the former superstar who is dealing with the death of one of his old friends overcoming everything just to be on the court or was it the young buck who is supposed to be the next best thing?
That's right, it's the old man, Shepard, out there facing his fears, playing killer D on the man bringing the ball up the court. He steals the ball and tosses the game-winning alley-oop to Kyle.
Give me the man that isn't afraid of the big moment to lead my team down the court over the young, hyped prospect.
Starting Shooting Guard: Jesus Shuttlesworth, "He Got Game"
NBA Equivalent: An unproven Dwyane Wade with Ray Allen's three-point shot.
Was there any question with this one? Jesus Shuttlesworth may be the most exciting, yet awkwardly named basketball movie character of all time.
Shuttlesworth is recruited by just about every team that could recruit him, and he is so good that the governor is willing to let his father out of jail if he gets Jesus to play for his alma mater.
He may be a guy that is just out of high school, and as unproven as anyone in that situation, but he is as close to a sure thing as you can get in a hypothetical basketball situation.
Starting Small Forward: Hustler, "Fast Break"
NBA Equivalent: Bernard King while stoned—so, just Bernard King really.
In one of the most unique, least politically correct basketball movies of all time, Bernard King shines as a pool shark who ends up on David Greene's (played by Gabe Kaplan) Cadwaller University basketball team.
King, as Hustler, helps Greene recruit the whole team, grabbing a preacher, a guy running from the cops, a big, burly dude with no discernible basketball skills and a girl to fill their starting five.
There is a lot of smoking pot and awkward, slightly inappropriate jokes throughout the movie, which makes it just that much better. And with Hustler looking like one of the smartest players you could find, I find myself forced to pick him up for my team.
Starting Power Forward: Pound, "Space Jam"
NBA Equivalent: Enormous Charles Barkley.
At first I didn't want any part of the Monstars. Sure, they were huge and they were mean, but they all had definite problems from the shoulders up.
They had been abused by a cartoon alien Danny DeVito for years—and really, who wouldn't be a bit of a head case after that?
However, with the extreme lack of legitimate power forwards cascading out of Tinsel Town and after considering the fact that Pound was the Monstar with the most drive to win the game out of all of them, I have to take him in this situation.
Starting Center: Saleh, "The Air Up There"
NBA Equivalent: Hakeem Olajuwon, only back when they were still calling him "Akeem."
Saleh is the definition of a raw talent here. Kevin Bacon had to travel all the way to Africa to find him and recruit him just to have a chance of getting a job as the head coach of the team where he was an assistant previously.
An enjoyable young man, Saleh would be the easiest player in the world to coach, and his rim-rattling dunks and incredible athleticism for a man his size is just jaw-dropping.
When I first watched this movie years back, I remember thinking how much better a basketball player Saleh's brother seemed to be in the final game. However, I chalked that up to him having the game of his life, rather than being the African Michael Jordan.
Sixth Man: Scott Howard, "Teen Wolf"
NBA Equivalent: An extremely hairy Jamal Crawford with Dr. J's dunking ability.
My first thought when I decided to undertake this project was that Scott would be my starting shooting guard or small forward without a doubt.
However, you always have to gamble with which version of Howard will show up for the game. If it's the Wolf then great; if not, then I don't want to rely on him to win any basketball games—kind of like Jamal Crawford.
Besides, if it weren't for Chubby's amazing play in the final game, grabbing every board and setting every screen, and some shoddy defense from the Dragons (seriously, how many uncontested layups did Howard get in that game?) there's no way their team would have won.
Shooting Specialist: Jimmy Chitwood, "Hoosiers"
NBA Equivalent: Kyle Korver mixed with Steve Kerr with a dash of Larry Bird.
Jimmy Chitwood is whiter than a mayonnaise-marshmallow sandwich on wonderbread, but that boy could shoot the ball.
Let's face it, back in the 1950s when Hoosiers takes place, Chitwood would have gone to the NBA after playing four years at Indiana and had a good career on a decent NBA team.
However, in 2011, Chitwood would have to learn to shoot the three, which I'm sure he could do.
Veteran Savvy: Billy Hoyle, "White Men Can't Jump"
NBA Equivalent: White Derek Fisher.
Billy Hoyle isn't going to drive the ball to the rim, he isn't going to be speeding past anyone and he isn't dunking anytime soon—that's for sure—but he is the savviest basketball player in movie history.
Hoyle can come off the bench when the starters are out and run the point, and do well enough to keep the score where it is for the 16 minutes or so a game or until his knees burst.
Backup Big Man: Neon Boudeaux, "Blue Chips"
NBA Equivalent: Shaq, if he lived in the backwoods for his whole life and was just turning 18.
In his first foray into the acting world (yes, even before Kazaam), Shaquille O'Neal played Neon in Blue Chips, the huge basketball phenom from the backwater of Louisiana.
I have a few problems with Neon at this stage in his basketball development and his character.
First, he isn't the most intelligent young man, scoring alarmingly low on his SATs; plus he took a Lexus from Happy, leading to some character issues.
Second, he is a very young, very unpolished player, and it may take some time for his game to get there (I know, I have the definition of a raw player starting for me at center, but still).
The Wild Card: Earl Manigault, "Rebound"
NBA Equivalent: Dr. J on smack.
This is the only film on this list that I haven't seen, but by the way people talk about Manigault it seems I have to include him in some way.
Rebound is based on a true story, but it is wildly exaggerated, so I figured it was safe to include Manigault here.
At one point, the real-life Manigault played with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who went as far as to say that he was the greatest player in the history of New York. However, Manigault was a notorious heroin addict.
If we can get him to kick the junk and play for us then great; otherwise, I think we'll be fine with the guys we have ahead of him.
Reserve Big Man: Ivan Radovadovitch, "Eddie"
NBA Equivalent: Macin Gortat just as everyone was starting to see that he could actually play, but with lead shoes.
One of my favorite basketball movie characters of all time, it took Whoopie Goldberg as Eddie a full season to teach him to take a charge, but now that he knows how to do it I'm confident in having him on our team.
Odds are that he won't see much playing time, but he is there just in case.
By the way, do you want to know my favorite part about Ivan? The actor that played him was named Dwayne.
Victory Cigar: Chubby, "Teen Wolf"
NBA Equivalent: Brian Scalabrine.
No team is complete without the big goofy white guy that is on the team to be a good teammate and go into blowouts as a human victory cigar.
For us, the ultimate movie victory cigar is Chubby from Teen Wolf.
He has all the qualities that a 12th man should have. He has a great fundamental knowledge of the game (did you see him set a screen?!) and could play, were he not trapped inside the body of a truck driver.
Welcome to the team Chubby; enjoy your stay on the bench, and rock the hell out of those short shorts—just don't try to steal my awesome bicycle.
Head Coach: Norman Dale, "Hoosiers"
He isn't very personable unless you spend months with him; he is hot-headed and doesn't care what anyone thinks. In other words, he is the perfect head coach.
Gene Hackman's portrayal of Norman Dale is one of the best performances in basketball movie history, and he does so as a nearly perfect basketball coach.
Dale doesn't care about what the community thinks; he knows that what he is doing is the right way to do things. If there is one thing I would want from a basketball coach, it would be complete confidence in his system, which Dale definitely had.
Elsewhere, Dale knows how to deal with each player individually, but is still able to treat them all the same. He stays away from Jimmy Chitwood until Jimmy decides that he wants to play, but he is still equally hard on him, even though he is the team's star player.
Coach Dale will have the team in tip-top shape, playing stellar defense and probably even keep Chubby from eating hoagies on the court.