Why ‘Hustle’ is a must-see movie for all basketball fans


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 01: (L-R) LeBron James, Adam Sandler and Juancho Hernangomez attend Netflix’s “Hustle” World Premiere at Regency Village Theatre on June 01, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix movie Hustle has been earning him some of the best reviews of his career. After a week, it has an impressive 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The movie features Philadelphia 76ers scout Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) who has always dreamt of a coaching career in the NBA. Finding a new superstar is supposed to get him there, but obviously, not everything goes according to plan.

In Spain, Sugerman discovers Bo Cruz (played by NBA player Juancho Hernangómez) while he is hustling his competition in street ball games. Sugerman takes the young talent to the U.S. to prepare him for the NBA Draft, and in the process, player and mentor soon form a strong bond that goes beyond the basketball court.

Why ‘Hustle’ is a must-see movie for all basketball fans

Hustle tells a familiar story of a player who has to defy adversity to make it to the top, following in the footsteps of almost every sports movie ever made. The excellent way in which the journey to redemption for both the player and the mentor is told and portrayed makes up for the predictable plot, however.

It is a modern take on the rise to fame in today’s media-focused society which barely allows for any privacy, combining drama with just the right amount of humor.

Since the movie features many actual NBA players instead of actors who have no idea how to hoop, Hustle has a very specific appeal for basketball fans. During the two-hour-long story, we see several exciting and realistic game scenes, including dunks and blocks otherwise only seen in highlight reels.

At first glance, the movie looks like an NBA promotion, but it also shows the dark, competitive side behind all the glory. The movie portrays the NBA as a business, filled with people who would do almost anything to succeed in the league.

Fans finally get a glimpse at the difficult journey some players have to take to get into the NBA, and at how much work the people behind the bench put in. One wrong decision can determine their entire career, which the movie portrays very well through the 76ers’ failure of drafting the German player Haas

Here, Sandler and his co-producer, LeBron James, also shed some light on the hard work players and prospects have to put in behind the scenes when Sugerman claims that the difference between Haas and Dirk Nowitzki is that “Dirk never left the gym”. So, in short, the movie portrays the “hustle” required by the league, and not only in respect to players.

Another appeal for basketball fans is that they will encounter many familiar faces in Hustle. Figures such as Doc Rivers, Tobias Harris, and Trae Young, for example.

These appearances of former and current stars are pleasant surprises combined with the experience that basketball players can do more than just shoot. Rookie actor Hernangómez portrays his character’s past and internal struggles very well, while also making him a lovable protagonist, driven by his passion for the game.

The same can be said for Anthony Edwards, who expertly plays a cocky, young player destined to be on top of his draft class, filling the screen not only with his skills on the court but also with his acting.

Richard Brody of The New Yorker calls Hustle “Adam Sandler’s love letter to basketball” and it is definitely worth watching for anyone who loves the sport just as much.