It was 15 years ago this week that Jake and Jesus Shuttlesworth played some one-on-one, father vs. son, with both of their futures on the line. It was 15 years ago this week that Big Time was schooling Jesus on the pitfalls of ball players trying to get out of Brooklyn to the pros.
It was 15 years ago that “He Got Game” came out, the best basketball movie ever made. Man, that makes me feel old.
I’d forgotten about that but a post by Todd Johnson at NBCNews.com’s The Grio reminded me.
Fifteen years ago today, He Got Game set a blueprint for how basketball films should be made. This wasn’t based on a true story of any historical significance or an underdog team’s ‘season on the brink.’ This was about one player’s view from the top — navigating the pressures from all angles to please others while simultaneously confronting his strained relationship with his father.
The player was Ray Allen. The father was Denzel Washington.
That was the gamble — taking a star young baller like Allen and making him the emotional focal point of the movie. But it worked because Allen could act, at least well enough to be convincing. And Denzel could ball well enough to be convincing. But the movie mostly works because writer/director Spike Lee told and urban family story, a father/son story, through basketball. It also gave a realism to the idea of what young elite players deal with.
“I think my role was important because it helped a lot of kids to see what they may have to deal with in not only basketball, but in life as well,” Allen said via a team spokesperson. “To this day, I still get called Jesus at least once a day.”
There are other good hoops movies — “Hoosiers,” “White Men Can’t Jump,” “Semi-Pro,” even “Blue Chips” if you want — but none of them work as well as “He Got Game.”
Think I’m going to have to pull my copy out and watch that again this weekend. It’s certainly more entertaining than the Pacers/Hawks series.
The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.
Now, we know when.
The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11
After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.
DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.
So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.
Cousins, via TMZ:
“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”
These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.
Not whom I want to honor, either.
Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.
So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.
Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:
“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”
“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”
Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.
But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.
The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.
Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.
He’s keeping the checks coming.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.
I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).
The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.
Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.