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Spike Lee’s “He Got Game” turns 15 this week. We all feel old.

May 2, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT

he got game denzel

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.

  1. patfic15 - May 2, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Named my son Michael Jordan after getting the idea from father in He Got Game. Thought the tribute to Monroe was a great idea. He’s 6, white, and loves everything but basketball. Oops. Theres still time….I hope.

  2. Legacy112 - May 2, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    I remember when I first saw the film I thought “Ray Allen probably won’t live up to this movie’s hype. I hope he at least gets a few all-star selections.”

    I am very glad he proved me wrong.

    Jesus shuttlesworth, all-time leader in 3′s, 10x all-star, nba champion.

  3. genericcommenter - May 2, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    All I really remember is Rick Fox and the pornstars. Oh, and the P.E. soundtrack (and Stephen Stills being in a music video with Flavor Flav), of course.

  4. jlsiberia - May 2, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    You know a lot of the great ball playazzz (sitting in red Benz vert)

  5. noring4youstill - May 2, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Greatest of all time? Obviously you’ve never seen White Men Can’t Jump

  6. sun602 - May 2, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    How come no one every mentions “Above the Rim”. That’s a classic.

    • sun602 - May 2, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      Also it came out in 1994- 4 years before He Got Game.

  7. davidly - May 2, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    Third Person Singular is conjugated with an s. Hence, it should be He Gots Game.

  8. scoops1 - May 2, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Hoosiers is one of the best inspirational movies of all time

  9. djigel - May 2, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    What ever happened to Ray Allen’s eyebrows?

  10. divan22 - May 2, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Hoosiers >>>>>>> He Got Game, and I liked He Got Game too.

  11. badintent - May 2, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    I thought Son Of Sam was Spike’s bes movie. Based on one of the worst serial killing sprees in NY.When they finally caught David, his diary said he was coming to my home town with a machine gun to have a fire fight with cops in the harbour.

  12. kindasporty - May 2, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    Best basketball move of all time….Baseketball!!! Right?…Anyone????…Hello???

  13. da1dub - May 3, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    great basketball movie. But my favorite basketball movie of all time is a film called Heaven is a Playground. Starring Bo Kimble. check it out

    • badintent - May 3, 2013 at 2:47 AM

      Saw Bo played with Hank Gathers. very sad about Hank. RIP Hank.

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