Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Inaugural Hoops Movie Draft: Part II

Folks, the dead period between NBA Summer League and preseason is the worst of times for serious hoops heads. Yeah, a lot of the pros go back home or to their home team cities to play in various Pro-Am leagues, such as Mr. Durant and Agent Zero at the Goodman League in Barry Farm here in DC. While those are exciting, the mainstream Basketball realm is quiet. That's where Money Mike over at "Points Off Turnovers" comes in. He solicited my help, and together we young superpowers have combined to formulate the Hoops Movie Draft, sponsored by talented Black men with extraordinary writing ability. Part One is over at Mike's blog spot, which leaves me with the honor of lacing Part Two with that FU awesome. To get caught up with the rules and the first five picks, go read Part One now...

Right now...

Go on...

I'll wait...



Kwame still is not good...

I wonder what Michael Olowokandi's doing...

Ok, you're back? Good. After the random picture, Mike reveals the movie he selects at #6.

6. Mike selects…Sean Connery & That Black Guy in Finding Forrester.

Imagine walking down the street in your hometown and being asked to star in a motion picture. Well, that’s basically how mystery man Rob Brown got invited to audition for the lead role in “Forrester.” Like your typical broke collegiate graduate, Brown needed to pay the bills. He stumbled upon an opportunity to extra for a quick check and took the bait. The rest is history. The producers saw him, asked him to try out for the lead role…and an actor was born.
Though he was extremely raw, the movie’s premise was easy. He was, well, playing himself.
“Forrester” tracks the growth of a gifted black student (Jamal Wallace) who finds himself trapped in high school’s oppressive subculture, unable to showcase his unbelievable writing talent without ridicule. Jamal gains respect from his peers through his hoop game, not his immense brain. Eventually, Jamal catches the eye of a Manhattan prep school recruiter, who invites Jamal to the academy after seeing that his jumper is wet and his academics are exceptional.

However, Jamal wants desperately to be a great writer. After losing a bet, he stumbles into the life of William Forrester (Sean Connery), a recluse who surreptitiously reminds us of J.D. Salinger. Forrester teaches Jamal how to write, and Jamal teaches William how to live again.
Why do I like this movie? The strictly coincidental scenes they stole from my life’s script. The agreeable transition of Busta Rhymes from rapper to actor. The cameo appearance from Matt Damon. The hoop scenes not being zoomed all the way in like a Jerry Bruckheimer production. The tastefully done pickup game backdrop on the credits page. The reminder of why I chose to become a writer. And the importance of carpe diem and living life to the fullest.

You’re the man now, dawg.

(Aside here: this is the steal of the draft. For young, Black hoopers and writers, "Finding Forrester" wonderfully touched both areas. Low key, I was upset Mike picked this one. That was my Stephen Curry, lol. Now on to my pick.)

7. J-Till selects...Coach Carter

Fact: Samuel L. Jackson is the baddest motha(watch yo mouth) in the acting biz. From his brief cameo as the McDowell's robber in "Coming to America" to Jules in "Pulp Fiction," he is a master motivator. This is mainly because he is so freaking loud for no apparent reason. And don't let his eyes bug out--you know he means what he says when that happens The lead role of Ken Carter is perfect for him. He's witty, sarcastic, and bald. As with all of these movies, you know the story. Carter comes back to his old high school in hopes of making a difference in the place where he was raised. There, he meets a band of half-degenerates that completely lack discipline. Through suicides, pushups and female-named plays, Richmond (CA) becomes a force on the court.
Of course, success on the court is counterbalanced by various troubles off it. The streets, teen pregnancy, and even the community's lack of priorities are all issues Carter and his players must overcome. And, through the power of the Samuel L. Jackson monologue, they do. Let's just be glad no one said "what" to him.

8. Mike selects…Space Jam.

This movie’s not about Michael Jordan. Sure, we can spend these next few paragraphs talking about His Airness, but aren’t you sick of talking about this guy? Six rings, five MVPs, 14 ASG, 10 First Team’s…blah, blah, blah. We know he’s the best to ever play the hardwood game, the best ever to palm the roundball. But this movie’s more about the people that made M.J. look good than about Jordan himself. For the first time in his career, fans saw a flawed Michael Jordan, a man more Boris Kodjoe than Denzel Washington on the big screen...and embraced him all the more.

Space Jam was a blockbuster because of these true heroes of the film strip. The producers had success because they honored the unwritten rule of Hollywood: When the lead can’t carry the movie, make sure your supporting characters hide the flaws. We witnessed Wayne Knight during his ethereal stretch run, Bill Murray before his career dive tailed, Danny DeVito when we still though he was the successor to the Al Pacino/Robert DeNiro throne, and the pairing of Bugs Bunny with newcomer Lola Bunny to break up the, er, sausage fest. Plus, when you’ve got a relative unknown carrying the vocals along with Monica…you’ve really got hakuna matada. Plus, we got to see Eric Gordon in a small role before he became a hoop sensation.

Wait, what?

9. J-Till selects...Glory Road

Long before Glory Road was ever thought of, I felt if there was anyone who could capture the bigotry of Adolph Rupp, it was Jon Voight. I don't feel he's a racist or anything like that. I just felt he had the face for what lies beneath Coach K. Apologies for the digression, but not for the statement. "Glory Road" is the cinematic version of the 1966 Texas Western , led by Coach Don Haskins. The team triumphs over racism, and defeats Rupp and his big, bad Kentucky Wildcats.

Because of the way the story is told nowadays, few people tend to overlook the fact that there were White players on that team. It was a major sacrifice on their part to humbly sit out of that game—the Championship Game—as Haskins played an all-Black, seven-man rotation. If you ignore the fact that these three guys were chosen as players, it's actually a pretty decent depiction of the story. Texas Western is now known as UTEP...shout-out to Tim Hardaway.

10. Mike selects…Whoopi Goldberg in Eddie.

I really think my Knick fandom, love of hoops (did you know that thing had 49 NBA players?), and narcoleptic tendencies got in the way on this pick. I can’t even remember why I made this pick. I’ve never found Whoopi funny or attractive (her face reminds me of Predator), or thought Dennis Farina as anything more than a glorified typecast. The movie was completely absent of gratuitous hot chicks (like Theresa Randle in Beverly Hills Cop 3) and timely one-liners. Why would I waste my time with a crappy G movie when there are still levels of Mega Man left to beat?

I wouldn’t. And neither would you. I’d like to believe I drafted this movie to honor the late great Malik Sealy…but I don’t think he’d want to be remembered as the ball hog who got owned by GP. I’d like to believe I picked this movie to see Rick Fox act, but I already knew that hoop stars that sneak to the big screen for a big payday end up looking worse than Keanu Reeves in everything non-Matrix. I’d like to believe that I picked this movie to laugh my way through the aftermath of the Isiah Era…but it only served as a brutal reminder of his incompetence.
I guess Eddie’ll just be the Luc Longley of my superstar squad. And with “Jump”, “Blue Chips”, “Forrester”, and “Jam” already on tap, my championship team is definitely on lock. Don’t look at me like that. This economy’s no joke, dawg.

So, this concludes the two-part Hoops Movie Draft. Before I say "Peace," I'll share a couple of observations I made while reviewing our picks. First, we picked according to our personalities. Over Twitter, I coined the saying that Money Mike is, "the Martin to my sportswriting Malcolm." This means we have the same goals and mind frame, but execute it differently. Plainly put, Mike's nicer than me. (I won't put what I want to say because I don't curse in my writing.) Even though each movie we picked has some sort of unintentional comedy, all of Mike's movies were more lighthearted than mine. Again, that speaks to our personalities. Mike's on a more "non-violent, non-violent" piece; while I get my point across "by any means necessary." However you put it, we're a dynamic duo and will crush you in any sports debate.

The second observation is that I don't think David Stern would be too pleased with our selections considering that there aren't any movies of the, *ahem*, "lighter" persuasion. Oh well, we're Black. "Hoosiers" gets no love over here. Hopefully, we took you back and allowed you to reminisce over quality basketball cinema while you wait another 50 days for the NBA regular season to begin.


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