Every real-life NBA player that appears in Adam Sandler’s ‘Hustle’
Adam Sandler’s got another hit movie out for audiences to enjoy on Netflix. It’s come at a great time, now that the NBA season is over, leaving plenty of time for practically anyone to sit and take in an entertaining movie that revolves around the game of basketball.
The movie’s called, Hustle, and it follows a washed-up NBA scout who’s been traveling the world in a search for the next international superstar on the court. He’s been sacrificing a lot in his own life for the Philadelphia 76ers, one of the NBA’s most storied franchises of all time.
When he does finally come across someone with potential, he risks nearly everything to bring a young streetballer stateside for a shot at playing in the league. That young man is played by Juancho Hernangómez, an actual NBA player who’s playing right now for the Utah Jazz.
Contributin to how unique this film already is, the filmmakers brought current and even former well-known NBA players into the fold to play supporting roles. This not only drew basketball fans in to watch, but added to the size of potential audiences, in addition to making the basketball action as realistic as possible.
It’s a long list, but here are all of the folks who came from the NBA to help contribute to the athletic gravitas and high praise of Hustle.
One of the lead roles went to an NBA player that’s acting in his first movie
As mentioned before, Juancho Hernangómez plays one of the main characters in this, his first-ever feature film role. He gives a face, voice, and obviously a lot of height to Bo Cruz, the Spanish basketball recruit that Sandler’s character tries to groom to NBA stardom.
Just like his fictional counterpart, Hernangómez did actually leave his native Spain for a professional career in the NBA. He got started with the Denver Nuggets in 2016, then played in Minnesota, Boston, and San Antonio before settling in with his current team, the Jazz. He still plays for Spain’s national team during international basketball tournaments or the Olympic competitions.
One of the NBA’s current stars also plays a pivotal role in the plot
No matter the content of the story, every protagonist has someone or something to go up against. NBA star Anthony “Ant-Man” Edwards was cast in the movie to almost literally put the “ant” in ant-agonist. His character Kermit Wilts ends up quickly becoming a rival to Cruz, making Bo’s journey to the NBA considerably tougher than once expected.
While many basketball fans don’t view him as a dirty player or anything of the sort in real-life, his talent makes him one of the league’s toughest players to play against. Edwards was the second-leading scorer on his team this past season with 21.3 points per game. During his rookie year in 2020, he and Hernangómez were teammates in Minnesota.
An NBA legend helps to round out the main cast of characters
Many current basketball fans would recognize Kenny “The Jet” Smith from his work as part of the Inside The NBA desk team on TNT. He was cast as Leon Rich, a sports agent and close personal friend of Sandler’s character, Stanley.
During his playing career from 1987 to 1997, he played for six NBA teams. In his first season, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Smith’s best years were most notably from 1990 to 1996 with the Houston Rockets where he won two NBA titles. Shortly after his retirement, he joined TNT’s coverage of the NBA in 1998 and has been there ever since, also covering Turner Sports’ NCAA men’s college basketball tournament.
So many basketball players, young and old made appearances in this movie
For even the most casual basketball fans a number of current players in the league appeared as themselves to add to the film’s realistic tone. Trae Young, Jordan Clarkson, Aaron Gordon, Seth Curry, Luka Doncic, Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, and Matisse Thybulle are all in the film. Also, recent champions such as Khris Middleton, from the 2021 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, and Kyle Lowry, who won his ring with the Raptors in 2019 joined the cast.
And even former players, some of whom are current coaches, and Hall of Famers like Julius Erving; Charles Barkley; Shaquille O’Neal; Allen Iverson; Dirk Nowitzki; Aaron McKie; Brad Stevens; Doc Rivers; Dave Joerger; Mark Jackson; Sergio Scariolo; José Calderón; Leandro Barbosa; Álex Abrines and Maurice Cheeks also made appearances.
Boban Marjanovic, from the Dallas Mavericks, plays a character known as Dimitri “The “Big Serbian” Jovanovic, and Moritz Wagner, who plays for the Washington Wizards, plays a German recruit called the “Haas.”
And lastly, Willy Hernangómez, Juancho’s brother and current NBA player, is seen in the film as a member of the Spanish national team.
Hustle, starring Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, and Juancho Hernangómez was released for streaming on Netflix on June 8, 2022.