Adam Sandler's new Netflix movie Hustle features a great collection of past and current NBA players. The 2022 Netflix original movie is produced by Sandler and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. Hustle is an original story written by Taylor Materne and Will Fetters, with Jeremiah Zagar directing the sports drama. Adam Sandler leads a cast filled with recognizable names – such as Queen Latifah and Ben Foster – but the combination of his star power and LeBron James helped deliver a recognizable ensemble for sports fans.
Thanks to the first Hustle movie trailer, audiences went into Sandler's new Netflix movie with a good idea of what to expect, including that it would feature a slew of appearances from familiar NBA faces. It is a more dramatic turn for the actor compared to his other Netflix original movies. Hustle follows Stanley Beren, played by Sandler, who is a former basketball talent scout. However, when he finds a potentially generational talent abroad, Stanely works to help the troubled prospect make it to the National Basketball Association. The underdog redemption story is quite common for the sports genre, but Adam Sandler's love of basketball makes Hustle a bit of a passion project for him.
From the first trailer, Hustled promised plenty of NBA action and cameos, and Sandler definitely delivered. The plot followed Stanley and his new recruit Bo Cruz as they go through the pre-NBA Draft circuit, which includes the combine and even some pick-up games. Since the movie is about people who love basketball, it only makes sense that actual professional players are involved. LeBron's producer credit sadly didn't translate into an on-screen appearance despite the hopes of some fans, but Hustle is loaded with other NBA players.
Outside of Adam Sandler, the main character of Hustle is Bo Cruz, played by Juan Hernangomez, a former Spanish professional basketball player. Hernangomez made the jump to the NBA in 2016 when he was drafted in the second round by Denver Nuggets. He was a rotation player primarily during his time in Denver, which ended after three and a half seasons when they traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2019. Hernangomez stayed in Minnesota for one and a half seasons where he was a part-time starter. He was then traded to the Boston Celtics to start the 2021 season, who then traded him to San Antonio Spurs, who then traded him to the Utah Jazz.
Anthony Edwards, the high-flying scoring machine for the Minnesota Timberwolves, also appears in Hustle. Edwards plays Kermit Wills. Wills is one of Hustle's antagonists, and Bo Cruz's main rival on the court. Anthony Edwards was the first overall pick by the Timberwolves in 2020 after he was the SEC Freshman of the Year at Georgia. His play in the first year of his NBA career earned him All-Rookie First Team honors, and he's taken a leadership leap in year two.
German-born Moritz Wagner has a successful NBA career and is currently with Orlando Magic. In Hustle he plays Haas, a prodigal import player touted as “the German MJ”. Even though Moritz “Moe” Wagner is a danger on the court, his Hustle character Haas has a reputation built on smoke-and-mirrors. Stanley sees through his lack of game straight away, showing the audience that the once-great NBA scout has an insightful eye.
Julius “Dr. J” Erving
It's not only current NBA superstars that appear in Hustle. Basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Irving, regarded by some as the best Sixer ever to grace the court, has a cameo that creates a pivotal plot moment. In Hustle, amateur and pro ballers alike are obsessed with the Boa Challenge, inspired by a viral video of Dr. J still dunking at 63 years old like nothing had changed since he retired in 1987. A true legend of the sport, Julius Irving ended his career as the third player in history to rack up a total of over 30,000 points across his 10+ years as an NBA pro.
Dirk Nowitzki, a two-time MVP in 2007 and 2011 respectively, is another NBA alumnus who plays a role in Hustle with a little more significance than a walk-on cameo. Nowitzki is another German player like Moe Wagner, and many consider him to be the greatest European baller of all time, having amazing success with the Dallas Mavericks. In Hustle, Stanley contacts Dirk to prove his credentials to a doubtful Bo. Since Bo is also a European hoping to succeed in the US, Stanley couldn't have picked a better NBA star to show that he's the right man to get Bo to the NBA.
Trae Young is another NBA player that appears in Adam Sandler's Hustle movie. The dynamic playmaker and scorer is in his fourth season playing point guard for the Atlanta Hawks. He was the fifth pick of the 2018 draft after becoming the Big 12 Freshman of the Year at Oklahoma. Trae Young was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in his first year with the Hawks. He's since become a two-time NBA All-Star and led his team to one Eastern Conference Finals appearance. In Hustle, he's on-court making highlight plays in the final pickup game.
Current Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry is also in Hustle. Lowry began his NBA career with the Memphis Grizzlies after being selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. After being a rotation player for Memphis for two and a half seasons, he was traded to the Houston Rockets. Lowry spent the next three seasons with the Rockets before being traded to the Toronto Raptors. He played for the Canadian team for the next nine years, where he helped the franchise win its first NBA Championship in the 2018-19 season. Lowry then joined the Miami Heat during the 2021 offseason. He's a six-time NBA All-Star and a native of Philadelphia, where part of Hustle is set.
Jordan Clarkson also appears in Netflix's Hustle. His NBA career began in 2014 after being drafted in the second round and going to the Los Angeles Lakers. Jordan Clarkson stayed with the team for three and a half seasons until he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018. He later went to the Utah Jazz during the 2019-20 season. Jordan Clarkson cemented himself as a great offensive sparkplug off the bench during his second season with the Jazz as he won Sixth Man of the Year. He appears in Hustle in the final pickup game alongside other NBA stars like Trae Young.
The 2022 Netflix movie Hustle also featured NBA star Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks, including a fair few speaking lines during an interview at the NBA Draft Combine with Anthony Edwards, where he talks up Bo's athletic abilities to Stanley. Middleton was a second-round pick by the Detroit Pistons in 2012 but didn't play much before being traded to the Bucks. His time in Milwaukee vaulted Middleton to an efficient and versatile scorer alongside Giannis Antetokounpo. He's become a three-time NBA All-Star over the years and won a championship with the Bucks in 2021.
Aaron Gordon also appeared in Adam Sandler's Netflix movie Hustle. The high-flying and explosive dunker was drafted fourth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic after becoming the Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year at Arizona. Aaron Gordon spent six and a half seasons with the Magic, helping them to one playoff appearance, before being traded to the Denver Nuggets.
The defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle is another NBA player in Hustle. He was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft for the Philadelphia 76ers after earning Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors in college. Thybulle's defensive prowess has translated to the NBA, where he became a member of the All-Defensive Second Team in 2021. In Hustle he's present for several of the fictional games, including as a spectator for Bo's first pickup in Philadelphia.
Tyrese Maxey also appears in Hustle. The rising NBA star is a member of the Philadelphia 76ers after the team drafted the Kentucky guard in the first round in 2020. After being a rotation player for the duration of his rookie season, Tyrese Maxey brought his scoring ability to the starting lineup for the 76ers in the 2021-22 season.
The Adam Sandler basketball movie Hustle and its collection of NBA players also include Tobias Harris. He went to the Milwaukee Bucks after being selected in the first round of the 2011 draft but didn't play much. Tobias Harris proved his scoring ability during his roughly three seasons with the Orlando Magic and the next season and a half with the Detroit Pistons. He's since played for the Los Angeles Clippers and came to the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2018-19 season.
The deadly three-point shooter Seth Curry is also in Netflix's Hustle movie. He bounced around from the NBA G-League and the end of NBA benches for the first few years of his career before landing in Dallas in 2016. His time with the Mavericks brought him great success, as he played for the team again following a season with the Portland Trail Blazers. Seth Curry then became a valuable member of the Philadelphia 76ers for a season and a half before a mid-season trade to the Brooklyn Nets. He can be seen in Hustle cheering on his brother Tobias during the movie's viral Boa Challenge.
Boban Marjanović is also in Hustle. The 7'4 Serbian center joined the NBA in 2015 with the San Antonio Spurs before joining the Detroit Pistons. It wasn't until he went to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2018 that Marjanović received a slightly bigger role. He also spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers for part of the 2018-19 season before finding a new home with the Dallas Mavericks. In addition to his NBA career, Boban Marjanović played an assassin in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
Doc Rivers makes an appearance in Adam Sandler's Hustle movie. The former All-Star guard for the Atlanta Hawks is now one of the best coaches in the league. He won Coach of the Year during his first job with the Orlando Magic and then won an NBA Championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics. After coaching the Los Angeles Clippers for multiple years and making the franchise a contender, Doc Rivers now is the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Kenny ‘The Jet' Smith
Current NBA analyst Kenny ‘The Jet' Smith is also in Hustle. The former NBA guard played for the Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, and Denver Nuggets. He's best remembered for his time with the Houston Rockets, where he helped the team win back-to-back NBA Championships. Kenny Smith has become an integral member of TNT's Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA show after retiring.
ESPN color commentator Mark Jackson can also be seen among Hustle‘s cast of NBA players. He's best known for his time with the New York Knicks, where he was an NBA All-Star and won Rookie of the Year. Jackson also played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, and Houston Rockets. His post-playing career included coaching the Golden State Warriors for multiple seasons.
Dozens Of Players And Off Court NBA Personalities Cameo In Hustle
Many NBA players, past and present, can be seen for brief cameo shots in Netflix's NBA drama Hustle. Some are in the stands watching games, others show up as participants in the online Boa Challenge. It's not just players either, as many off-court personalities including coaches, managers, and commentators make an appearance.
Here's a rundown of the other NBA players and personalities who make brief cameos in Hustle:
- Maurice Cheeks, former 76ers player and coach.
- Aaron McKie, former 76ers player.
- Allen Iverson, former 76ers NBA MVP.
- Dave Joerger, 76ers assistant coach.
- Pat Croce, former 76ers president and minority owner.
- Billy King, former 76ers general manager.
- Willy Hernangómez, Jose Calderón, Pierre Oriola, Alex Abrines, and Felipe Reyes, former Spanish national-team players.
- Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks player.
- Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner.
- Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics president.
- Dell Dumps, Utah Jazz assistant coach.
- Jay Wright, a two-time NCAA champion coach.
- Grayson “the Professor” Boucher, street basketball Instagram celebrity.
- James Goldstein, No.1 NBA superfan.
All of the above make an appearance during various different scenes in the movie. So common are the NBA cameos in Hustle that describing all of them would just be giving a scene-by-scene plot synopsis. Hustle hit the mark with the NBA faithful because it shows the adrenaline-fuelled world of the NBA draft in a pretty accurate light. The draft is highly televised and one of the yearly highlights of the sport. For Hustle to have any semblance of realism, as was intended, frequent cameos were almost a guarantee. However, it should be noted that Hustle has been received well not only by NBA enthusiasts but also by Adam Sandler fans. The cameos, even the minor ones, aren't a cheap gimmick. Each feels natural, adding to the immersion of Hustle and Stanley Sugermen's story. It's no secret that Adam Sandler is an avid basketball fan, and it shines through in every Hustle scene that puts him alongside the many NBA greats on the cast list.
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