The cast of Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix film, Hustle, streaming now, is a real who’s who of NBA stars. Sandler, a huge basketball fan, plays Stanley Sugerman. He is a Philadelphia 76ers talent scout who struggles to make ends meet. With the assistance of an international-born draft prospect, he fights for his life. Stanley appears to believe that the talented young athlete is worthy of a place in the NBA. Anthony Edwards is also a basketball icon that he meets on his way. Goose, the role he plays in Goose’s movie isn’t his. Top Gun, However, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ young star is the one to watch.
The film features former and current NBA players, but not all. This gives them the opportunity to show their acting abilities. Though many actual 76ers players fill the cast, the team’s brightest star Joel Embiid is unfortunately nowhere to be found. A notable hooper is the absence of LeBron James. The film’s producer, LeBron James. Don’t worry, the King’s absence just gives other NBA icons and soon-to-be legends a chance to prove that their talents spread far beyond the basketball court. Here are the most notable NBA superstars that have appeared in Hustle.
Hernangómez makes his film debut as Bo Cruz, a standout rookie prospect who gets Stanley’s attention when he sees him dominating a streetball game in Spain wearing khaki cargo shorts and a pair of Timberland work boots. Stanley soon makes it his mission to help the kid, who he describes as “Scottie Pippen and a wolf, if they had a baby,” into the NBA draft through intense Rocky-like training montages. The 26-year-old Hernangómez entered the league in 2016 and has moved around a bit, playing for the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Boston Celtics. His current team is the Utah Jazz.
Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz in Hustle
The Minnesota Timberwolves star plays Kermit Wilts, a cocky top draft prospect who gets under Bo’s skin with a bit of trash talk. The No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft is known for talking a little trash both on and off the court, but he’s also quickly gotten himself a reputation for being one of the funniest players in the NBA for his post-game interviews. Sandler may be the next comedian to cast him.
The former Toronto Raptors star who helped Drake’s favorite NBA team win its first championship in 2019, shows up in the film to watch Bo hoop and throw a little shade. Lowry, who hails from Philadelphia, signed with the Miami Heat in 2021. He had spent almost a decade playing for the Raptors.
The retired NBA player plays Leon, Stanley’s closest friend and confidante who is now a successful sports agent on the level of Klutch Sports founder Rich Paul. Smith, nicknamed “The Jet,” played from 1987 to 1997, winning back-to-back championships with the Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995. He’s now best known as one of the commentators on TNT’s Within The NBA where he’s worked alongside longtime host Ernie Johnson since 1998.
The former NBA player and coach pops up at the Bronx game to weigh in on Bo’s on-court skills. Jackson has become an ESPN analyst and often calls ESPN games along with Jeff Van Gundy, his ex-New York Knicks coach, and legendary announcer Mike Breen.
Adam Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman; Kenny Smith portrays Leon Rich; Mark Jackson is Himself in Hustle
Julius “Dr. J” Erving
The Philadelphia 76ers’ legend slams dunking in a viral clip Stanley makes with his teenage daughter. The NBA icon, who is considered one of the greatest players of all time and one of the greatest dunkers of all time, returns later in the film to help Bo go viral at Harlem’s legendary Rucker Park, where Dr. J got his start. He also gives Bo the nickname “The Boa,” which is way cooler than Stanley’s nickname for him: “The Cruz Missile.”
After starting his career in the American Basketball Association in 1971, Dr. J joined the NBA when both leagues merged two years later. He won four MVPs and three scoring title during his 16-year playing career. He was recently chosen for the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. His dunking abilities also led to the creation of the popular slang term to “posterize,” which is when a player dunks over a defender and the move is so good, it needs to be recreated on a poster.
The “Big Serbian” is the first player Stanley meets in the opening scene of Hustle. He claims he’s 22 years old, the maximum age a player can be to enter the draft, and that a “big fire” destroyed his birth certificate. But the Big Serbian’s son, who looks to be in his mid-teens, gives Stanley pause. The 33-year-old Marjanović, who was born in Serbia, currently plays for the Dallas Mavericks, but might look familiar to fans of John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum where he fights Keanu Reeves’ titular character in the New York Public Library.
Boban Marjanovic 51 of the Dallas Mavericks takes to the floor before warming up against the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center, March 29, 2022
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
Wagner plays Haas, a 19-year-old German player nicknamed the “German MJ” that the 76ers want to draft. However, Stanley isn’t so sure the kid is the real deal. Wagner was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers as a draft pick in 2018. He now plays alongside his brother Franz Wagner for the Orlando Magic.
Continue reading: What if you could predict every move in? Hustle, But That Doesn’t Make It Any Less Enjoyable
A former Laker commentatorWithin the NBA is one of Bo’s famous fans. Shaq is one of the greatest players of all time in the NBA—a four-time champion, three-time Finals MVP, and the 2000 MVP—but he’s also no stranger to Hollywood. After making his film debut in 1994’s Blue ChipsHe starred in Kazaam, Steel, Uncle Drew. He’s also a frequent feature of the Sandlerverse, appearing in four of Sandler’s movies including Grown-Ups 2, MixedAnd Hubie Halloween.
Shaq’s fellow The NBA Bo Cruz is an analyst who was also a former Philadelphia 76er. Known as the “Round Mound of Rebound,” the former Phoenix Suns player was an 11-time All Star was named the League’s MVP in 1993. He played himself in 1996’s Space Jam, Suits, and Modern Family. He is also a host. Saturday Night Live four times.
LAS VEGAS – OCTOBER 23, 2018: Shaquille O’Neal (ex-NBA player) attends an unveiling of Shaq Courts at Doolittle Complex. It was held by Icy Hot in collaboration with the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Image for Icy Hot
Getty Images for Icy Hot—2021 Getty Images
In the movie, Bo Rucker Park is portrayed by Philadelphia 76ers. The 29-year old was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2011. He has also had stints with the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons. He’s played for the 76ers since 2019.
The former Philadelphia 76er is once again talking about practice, taking to his Instagram to declare that Bo “don’t need no practice.” The NBA icon known as “the Answer” didn’t either. Iverson, who is only 6 feet tall, became one of the League’s most productive players over 14 seasons. He was the youngest player ever to win the MVP award in 2001.
Another Philadelphia 76er star who pops up throughout the film to check out Bo’s progress and get a front row seat to Stanley nearly torpedoing his career. Thybulle, who has been a 76er player since joining the League in 2019, is well-known for his defense skills. The 25-year-old also became a bit of an internet sensation during the NBA’s 2020 Bubble Season held in Orlando, Florida during the early months of COVID-19 thanks to his YouTube videos, which took a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like living in Disney World.
Matisse Thybulle 22 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts to the Chicago Bulls in the Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia on March 7, 2022.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Stanley FaceTimes the Dallas Mavericks legend in hopes the retired power forward, who is the highest scoring foreign born player in NBA history, can convince Bo that he’s for real. Turns out, Nowitzki, who won the Mavericks only championship in 2011, doesn’t only have game. Also, he has great comedy timing.
The Milwaukee Bucks small forward shows up as himself in the film to support Bo’s adversary, Kermit. Middleton won the title in 2021 with his team which also included Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Jrue. It was Milwaukee’s first in 50 years.
Since Gordon is known for his impressive slam dunk skills, it’s only right that he gets to dunk in Hustle. After spending his first seven years in the NBA with the Orlando Magic, he’s now a member of the Denver Nuggets.
The former coach of the Boston Celtics, who is currently the team’s president of basketball operations, is seen scouting Bo. This is a skill he might be able to master. In Stevens’ first year as president, the Celtics managed to make it to the 2022 NBA Finals.
Bo isn’t interested in seeing the Atlanta Hawks superstar at secret Bronx game. To be fair, Young, better known as “Ice Trae,” is known for his knock-out 3-point shooting so passing isn’t really his thing.
He is also an active player at the Bronx games as a 29-year-old Utah Jazz superstar. Clarkson was awarded the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2021.
Blink and you’ll miss the WNBA star’s cameo in the final moments of the film in which the TNT analyst and commentator shows up on TV to talk about that night’s game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics. Parker was a Los Angeles Sparks player for her 12 first WNBA seasons, where she won a championship. Two-time MVP, and Rookie Of The Year Parker was a member of the Chicago Sky team in 2021. In the same year, she won her second title.
Candace Parker 3 of the Chicago Sky is seen shooting against the Seattle Storm in the first-half at Climate Pledge Arena, May 18, 2022
Steph Chambers/Getty Images
Drafted by the 76ers in 2020, the 21-year-old Maxey makes a cameo in the film to give a bit of advice to his struggling new teammate Haas on how to become a better defender: Play “like Jrue Holiday, bro,” a reference to the Milwaukee Bucks star who is considered by many of his fellow NBA players as the best defender in the League.
The ex-76er from Philadelphia shows up at Tobias Harris’s Brooklyn Nets game to see the battle between Harris and The Boa. While Seth isn’t as popular as Steph Curry his brother, Seth has the third highest three-point percentage in NBA history.
Dallas Mavericks’ star plays in the movie to give Bo a shout-out on Instagram. He also lets his followers know that the undiscovered athlete is the real deal. Since joining the NBA in 2018, Dončić has racked up accolades including Rookie of the Year. The 23-year old has been compared to LeBron Jam by some, who predicted that Doncic would become the face and symbol of the League due to his prowess in the game.
The eccentric Goldstein, known for his unique fashion sense, has never played basketball, but he’s a NBA legend in his own right. He often appears on courtside at Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers games in big, floppy hats. He’s gotten a reputation as the NBA’s biggest superfan, but his home is nearly as famous, popping up in a few films including The Big Lebowski.
Jimmy Goldstein appears courtside at Game 1 of 2018 NBA Finals
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
Stanley is the current Philadelphia 76ers head coach. He shows up at his office to talk about Stanley’s suit. In 1999, the former NBA player started his coaching career at the Orlando Magic. He won Coach of The Year in his first season. The Boston Celtics won the title in 2008, and he continued to coach them from 2004 through 2013.
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