Hall-of-Fame-worthy basketball performances
This week, Sylvester Stallone was named to the 2011 class for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum as a screenwriter for creating "Rocky." Much respect to Stallone and the Boxing Hall of Fame. This got me thinking about what iconic figures from basketball movies I would like to see in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Basketball movies have really shaped our perspective of the sport growing up. I mean, how many times have we called Ray Allen "Jesus" while he is on the court. Movies are really transcendent in the world of sport. So here is my list of actor inductees to the basketball Hall of Fame, in no particular order:
Criteria: I'm picking non-athletes from the movies because athletes already have the chance to enter the Hall with their skills. Plus, we all know NBA players in movies aren't exactly Oscar-winning performances, i.e. "Kazaam." Also, the movie should have made an impact on the way we view basketball. Lastly, no documentaries.
Bill Murray and The Monstars -- "Space Jam"
The Monstars deserve a bid for being the most dominating defensive team on film ever. I think Dwight Howard's shoulders started at power forward for them.
Also, who didn't enjoy Bill Murray's plucky comedy alongside Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny? My favorite line of Murray's:
Bill Murray: It's cause I'm white isn't it?
Jordan: No, Larry [Bird] is white. So what?
Murray: Larry's not white. He's clear.
Dwayne Schintzius -- "Eddie"
While Whoppi Goldberg played an awesome Knicks fan-turned-coach. I give my induction nomination to Dwayne Schintzius as Ivan Radovadovitch. He had the movie's most classic line "Ivan make basket!," now repeated in living rooms around the country.
(Yes, I know he was a former player. But let's be honest, he doesn't have a chance of getting into the Hall of Fame any other way.)
Woody Harrelson -- "White Man Can't Jump"
Billy Hoyle and this movie brought to light an age-old myth and tried to put it to bed. Hoyle became a beacon of light for my light-skin brothers around the world waiting for next in the neighborhood pickup game.
Buddy -- "Air Bud"
Who doesn't love a high-flying dunking golden retriever? Buddy would be the first four-legged member of the Hall of Fame.
Gene Hackman -- "Hoosiers"
When making any basketball movie lineup, it is an unwritten rule you must have this on the list. In the ultimate underdog movie, Gene Hackman gave an Oscar-worthy performance as a disgraced coach turned town hero. There is never a dry eye in the house when Hoosiers is on the screen.
Nick Nolte -- "Blue Chips"
Stuck between a rock and a booster's wallet, Nick Nolte is pressured into breaking NCAA rules to recruit a dream team for his university. Nolte gets a nod for his awesome performance with so many NBA players. What do you think down time on the set was like? I'm sure lots of jokes were made and trying to pull acting skills out of NBA players like Penny Hardaway is an awesome feat by itself.
Sanaa Lathan/Omar Epps -- "Love and Basketball"
The two go in as a tandem for great acting and even more amazing ball-handling skills. You can tell Lathan really got into character when she took off her shirt -- abs for days-- and played Epps one-on-one for his heart (cheesiest line ever in a movie). I was fuming with tears in my eyes when Epps fouled Lathan under the basket as Me'shell Ndgeocello's "You Made a Fool of Me" played in the background. When a movie draws that kind of emotion, you know it's a goodie.
Denzel Washington -- "He Got Game"
This is my Holy Grail of basketball movies. It has the big three; an Oscar-winning actor, world-renowned director and a young Ray Allen named Jesus. Not to mention it's set in the greatest city in the world, Brooklyn. Jesus Shuttlesworth's momma screaming "Jesus" out the window of the projects, and all the kids making fun of him, has to be one of the best moments in basketball movie history.
Samuel Jackson -- "Coach Carter"
Not a very memorable movie, but I would pay good money to see a profanity-laden Jackson induction speech.
Michael J. Fox -- "Teen Wolf"
If you say you didn't get excited when the Wolfman came up from under the pileup and went on to score a quadruple-double for the Beavers you're lying. This was a classic moment. Also Wolfman's play is very reminiscent of Blake Griffin's game. Just absolute beast mode.