Skip to content

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

May 2, 2013, 8:44 AM EST

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Hornets, Nets talking possible Lance Stephenson for Joe Johnson trade

    Jan 25, 2015, 9:04 PM EST

    Lance Stephenson Getty Images

    The Nets and Hornets talked but did not pull the trigger on a Brook Lopez trade recently.

  2. Bulls pay tribute to Luol Deng in United Center return (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 5:30 PM EST

    Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings

    Deng played his first game in Chicago as a member of a visiting team on Sunday.

  3. Knicks’ Lance Thomas travels, double dribbles and steps out of bounds without any call from the officials (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    Miami Heat v New York Knicks Miami Heat v New York Knicks

    Two referees failed to blow the whistle, despite multiple violations occurring in the same sequence.

  4. J.J. Redick, Andre Drummond latest to receive flopping warnings (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    J.J. Redick AP

    Both players successfully tricked the referees into calling a foul.

  5. Paul Pierce hits 2,000th three pointer of career (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    Washington Wizards v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    He’s just 23 behind Jason Terry for third most on the All-Time list.

  6. LaMarcus Aldridge looks good with 26 points, 9 rebounds playing with bad thumb

    Jan 25, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    LaMarcus Aldridge, Nene AP

    He hd 26 points and 9 boards. That brace worked out pretty well.

  7. Brandon Jennings leaves game in wheelchair, may have torn Achilles

    Jan 25, 2015, 1:01 AM EST

    Brandon Jennings Brandon Jennings

    Can we just get through the rest of this season without any more major NBA injuries, please?

  8. Report: Celtics may keep Tayshaun Prince if he’s not traded by the deadline

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:00 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Brad Stevens reportedly likes Prince, so a buyout may not be in the cards.

  9. Derek Fisher didn’t realize motivating his players would be such a big part of being an NBA head coach

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    Derek Fisher AP

    Fisher played 18 years, and claims that his motivation always came from within.

  10. After being fined for obscene gesture, Dwyane Wade asks NBA to improve on ways it protects players from fans

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade was fined for flipping off some fans who he believed crossed the line.

  11. Dwight Howard leaves arena in walking boot after suffering ankle injury against Suns

    Jan 24, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Dwight Howard AP

    Howard left the game after just eight minutes and did not return.

  12. LaMarcus Aldridge decides to delay surgery, will return for Blazers Saturday vs. Wizards

    Jan 24, 2015, 3:17 PM EST

    Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Aldridge has a tear in his left thumb, and was originally set to be sidelined 6-8 weeks.

Featured video

Stephen Curry leads NBA MVP race mid-season
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (7804)
  2. K. Bryant (7397)
  3. D. Wade (6987)
  4. H. Whiteside (6665)
  5. R. Rubio (5956)
  1. J. Noah (5876)
  2. K. Martin (5854)
  3. N. Batum (5496)
  4. C. Anthony (5370)
  5. T. Jones (5316)