Juancho Hernangómez: movie star. You read that right.
Now read it again. It’s fun.
Yes, indeed, the newest member of the Boston Celtics — an NBA role player with career averages of 5.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.7 assists per game — will star alongside Adam Sandler in the hooper-actor hybrid’s upcoming Netflix film, Hustle. Photos of the two on a blacktop have been surfacing all across the internet, cameras and crews aplenty surrounding them. Frankly, given Sandler’s summer activities and recent penchant for stumbling across some star-studded pickup games, I was quick to assume that this was either yet another excuse for Sandler and his baggy garb to get in a run, or that it was some weird publicity stunt. Honestly, Hustle is probably a little bit of both.
I’m NOT complaining.
Adam Sandler’s upcoming film “Hustle” where Sandler plays a struggling scout who discovers an overseas player, portrayed by Juancho Hernangómez.— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) September 7, 2021
LeBron James and his production company SpringHill Entertainment are listed as one of the producers pic.twitter.com/AWfPSpq5qN
The film’s plot is as follows: “an American basketball scout is unjustly fired after discovering a once-in-a-lifetime player abroad. The scout decides to bring the player to America to prove that they both have what it takes to make it in the NBA.” Apparently, not only will it star Sandler and Hernangómez, but given that the film takes place in Philadelphia, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, and Doc Rivers are all set to be featured as well.
Is this real life? What exactly, if anything, did I do to deserve this?
For one, this sounds like peak Sandler. Aside from his occasional dramatic turns in Punch-Drunk Love and Uncut Gems — in which he starred alongside Kevin Garnett — Sandler tends to use his films as excuses to do something he loves. Whether that’s talking in an inane voice for 90 minutes because, well, he felt like it that day, or taking an extended vacation to Hawaii with some famous pals (and yeah, making a murder mystery called Murder Mystery whilst tanning), he has a knack for mixing business with pleasure. This is a new one, though. And I’m so incredibly happy about it.
As for the decision to make Hernangómez the “once-in-a-lifetime player” in question: I’m all for it. He’s a fascinating choice and a not-at-all obvious one. There’s no sense in casting an international player of Giannis Antetokounmpo or Luka Doncic’s ilk; they’re too well-known and too undisputedly great with a capital “g.” Hernangómez has the look of a potential stud — lanky, tatted, and 6-foot-gajillion — never mind the fact that his NBA career has been somewhat immemorable. Adding acting to his resume just bolsters his street cred and notoriety. This is a marketing fantasy for those in Celtics PR. Anyone in their right mind would milk this for all it’s worth.
You might recall that Hernangómez is hardly the first Celtic to grace the silver screen. Kyrie Irving starred in Uncle Drew (based on the character created by Irving and Pepsi, which is just... yeah). Ray Allen, while not a Celtic at the time, starred opposite Denzel Washington in the classic He Got Game. We’ve already been over KG’s brilliance. Does Juancho have something similar in him? If Boston doesn’t win a championship this season, might their newest acquisition bring home some hardware of his own?
The answer to that question is a resounding no. But that’s okay. Move over Dune; take a back seat, Spider-Man: No Way Home. Hustle rules the day now. I suddenly have a new most-anticipated film of 2021. And Juancho Hernangómez is its star.
What a world. Thank god for Adam Sandler’s undying ambivalence toward quality filmmaking.