Fictional Player #1: Calvin Cambridge – Los Angeles Knights, Like Mike
(Lil) Bow Wow’s character, Calvin Cambridge, in the 2002 film Like Mike, is possibly one of the best fictional players out there, period. While Cambridge is often overlooked, most likely because of the quality of his films, his skills cannot be denied. Yes, he joined an NBA team as a gimmick, as Eugene Levy points out. And yes, there is no way any NBA collective bargaining agreement would allow a child to play professional basketball. But all that aside, Cambridge could hoop.
Cambridge acquired his talent through supernatural means. He was an orphan living in less-than-desirable conditions. From donations, he finds a pair of sneakers that are marked with the initials MJ, obviously hinting at Michael Jordan. A bully then steals the shoes and vaults them onto a power line. As he is trying to get them down, Cambridge and the shoes are struck by lightning.
They become energized, giving Cambridge the skills of Michael Jordan when he wears them.
As an aside, Jordan was in the league, playing in Washington, at the time this film came out. Although he did give the movie the OK, he chose not to make an appearance.
Looking at things as objectively as possible, what was Cambridge able to accomplish? The Los Angeles Knights were a failing organization. So much so that their star player was having one-on-one matches against fans at halftime, which is highly unconventional. The team wasn’t winning and wasn’t selling tickets.
Cambridge was brought in to fill seats, but he gave them so much more. He gave them not only buckets but also wins. The Knights went from a flailing organization nearly on its way to Oklahoma City to a playoff team. And it was the wins Cambridge provided and his game-winning assist that secured the Knights’ first playoff appearance in franchise history. Those are things that franchise players do.