Movies and sports crossover from time to time. Hoosiers and Rudy are longtime classics. Space Jam is a late 90s gem (soon to get a sequel or reboot starring LeBron James). Today, 10-time NBA all-star Ray Allen, one of the greatest three-point shooters of all time, announced his retirement. Allen was famously in the 1998 Spike Lee film He Got Game starring opposite Denzel Washington.
In He Got Game, Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) is a burgeoning basketball superstar dealing with decisions about his future. It’s an all-too-familiar story of an impoverished youth with an incredible level of talent that can take him and his family out of poverty. Jesus must decide between going to college (the slow and steady path) or choosing to go for the fast money by heading straight to the pros.
Jesus is tempted with money and women by different people who want his talents. To make it all the more difficult, Jesus’ estranged father, Jake (Denzel Washington) wants Jesus to go to “Big State.” Jake, in prison for the accidental murder of Jesus’ mother, is being offered a chance at freedom by the governor. The deal is pending on if Jake can convince Jesus to go to Big State, the governor’s alma mater.
He Got Game isn’t Spike Lee’s best film and it’s certainly not his worst. I’m looking at you She Hate Me and Miracle at St. Anna. He Got Game has the usual touches of Lee’s visual skill while being a little too long and overindulgent at times. But what Spike Lee does so well, so often, is use multi-dimensional characters to make commentary on society and humanity. He Got Game succeeds on those levels. Considering Ray Allen is a basketball player, his performance in He Got Game is strong and convincing. Allen was a relatively new player at the time which helped illuminate Jesus’ inexperience. Denzel is Denzel who is always great and sports an awesome afro.
Thanks for every minute on the court Ray Allen.
If you’ve never watched Ray Allen play click here for 10 great highlights from a record-breaking NBA career.