Directed by Jeremiah Zagar, Netflix’s ‘Hustle’ is an inspiring basketball film that revolves around basketball scout and coach Stanley Sugarman, who discovers a highly talented basketball prospect named Bo Cruz. To help Bo get into the promised land of the NBA, Stanley uses his coaching skills and contacts. The Adam Sandler-starrer features several real-life active and former basketball players as fictional characters and themselves. Naturally, the viewers must want to know more about the players who appear in the film. If that’s the case, let us be your ally!
Bo Cruz: Juancho Hernangómez (Team: Utah Jazz)
Spanish basketball player Juancho Hernangómez portrays Bo Cruz, the talented street basketball player who gets discovered and coached by Stanley. Hernangómez began his career by playing in the youth teams of CB Las Rozas, Real Madrid, and Club Basketball Majadahonda. In 2012, he signed his first professional contract with CB Estudiantes and was part of the club until 2016. He received ACB Best Young Player Award during his time at the club. In 2016, he got picked by Denver Nuggets, marking the start of his NBA career. After four years in the Nuggets, Hernangómez was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2020.
Hernangómez was eventually traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtics, and San Antonio Spurs consecutively. In 2022, Hernangómez was traded to the Utah Jazz, where he presently plays as a power forward. He has also represented his home country Spain in the European U-18 and U-20 championships, 2017 EuroBasket, and 2019 World Cup.
Kermit Wilts: Anthony Edwards (Team: Minnesota Timberwolves)
Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Anthony Edwards AKA Ant-Man plays Kermit Wilts in the film. At the college level, Edwards played for the Georgia Bulldogs, which represents the University of Georgia. In 2020, Minnesota Timberwolves selected Edwards as their No. 1 overall pick. After his first season with the Timberwolves, he ranked second in the Rookie of the Year voting and was included in the NBA All-Rookie First Team of the season.
In 2021, Edwards became the seventh player in NBA history to score 2,000 points in his first 100 games at age 20 or younger. He was the first player in NBA history to record a stat line of at least 40 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals, and 5 three-pointers in a single game. In April 2022, he made his playoff debut against the Memphis Grizzlies in the opening round of the 2022 NBA playoffs.
Leon Rich: Kenny Smith
Former basketball player Kenny “the Jet” Smith portrays Leon Rich, a basketball agent and Stanley’s friend, who gives Bo Cruz an opportunity to become an NBA player. During a career that lasted from 1987 to 1997, Kenny had played for the Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, and Denver Nuggets. He had also won the NBA championship twice with the Houston Rockets. Kenny had garnered 9,397 points, 1,454 rebounds, and 4,073 assists during his career. The former player had also represented the United States in the 1986 FIBA World Championship. He is currently working as a TV analyst in ‘Inside the NBA,’ a post-game show on TNT.
Julius “Dr. J” Erving
Regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, former small forward Julius “Dr. J” Erving appears as himself in the film to help Bo Cruz to get into the NBA draft combine. Dr. J has played for ABA’s Virginia Squires and New York Nets (presently the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets) before playing for Philadelphia 76ers from 1976 to 1987, till his retirement. A Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. J is also a one-time NBA champion and the recipient of the 1981 NBA Most Valuable Player award. Philadelphia 76ers retired their no. 6 in honor of Dr. J. He was included in the NBA 75th Anniversary Team as well.
Glenn Anton Rivers AKA Doc Rivers, former basketball player and current head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, appears as himself in ‘Hustle.’ In between 1983 and 1996, he had played for the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, the New York Knicks, and the San Antonio Spurs as a point guard. After retiring as a player in 1996, Doc started his coaching career in 1999 with Orlando Magic. Since then, he had coached Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, before joining his current team, the Sixers. He won the NBA championship as a coach in 2008 with the Boston Celtics and received the NBA Coach of the Year award in 2000.
When Stanley fails to convince Bo that he is a scout of an NBA team, he calls Dirk Nowitzki, a former German basketball player, to vouch for him. Nowitzki is one of the greatest power forwards of all time. He had played for Dallas Mavericks from 1998 to 2019. He is a one-time NBA champion and the recipient of the 2011 NBA Finals MVP award and the 2007 NBA Most Valuable Player award. Nowitzki is also included in the NBA 75th Anniversary Team and his no. 41 jersey is retired by the Dallas Mavericks, where he presently serves as a special advisor.
Nowitzki had also represented Germany in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and 2005 EuroBasket, leading his team to a bronze and silver medal respectively. He was the leading scorer and MVP in both tournaments.
The Big Serbian: Boban Marjanović (Team: Dallas Mavericks)
Boban Marjanović, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks in the center position, portrays the Big Serbian, a player Stanley tries to recruit for the Sixers. After playing for several European basketball teams, the Serbian international began his NBA career with San Antonio Spurs in 2015. Since then, he had chiefly played for Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers, and Philadelphia 76ers. In 2019, he joined his current team, the Mavericks. He had represented Serbia in the 2007 FIBA Under-19 World Cup, 2008 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship, and 2017 EuroBasket.
Haas: Moritz “Moe” Wagner (Team: Orlando Magic)
Orland Magic’s German player Moritz “Moe” Wagner portrays Haas, a basketball player Stanley scouts for the Sixers. Moe has played both as a power forward and center. His NBA career began with Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. He had played for Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics before moving to the Magic. He had represented Germany in the 2014 FIBA Europe U-18 Championship.
Other Real Life Basketball Players in the Film
Apart from the aforementioned active and former players, several other former and active basketball players make an appearance in ‘Hustle.’ Shaquille O’Neal, four-time NBA champion and one of the greatest basketball players of all time, appears as himself. Power forward Tobias Harris, shooting guard/point guard Tyrese Maxey, and small forward Matisse Thybulle of the Philadelphia 76ers appear as themselves as part of Stanley’s Sixers team. Brooklyn Nets’ shooting guard Seth Curry appears himself as part of Stanley’s Sixers team. Juancho Hernangómez’s (Bo Cruz) brother and New Orleans Pelicans player Willy Hernangómez makes an appearance as well.
Dallas Mavericks’ point guard/small forward Luka Dončić, Miami Heat’s point guard Kyle Lowry, Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Trae Young, Denver Nuggets’ power forward/small forward Aaron Gordon, Utah Jazz’s shooting guard/point guard Jordan Clarkson, and Milwaukee Bucks’ small forward/shooting guard Khris Middleton also feature in the film. Pierre Oriola (FC Barcelona), Álex Abrines (FC Barcelona), Mike James (AS Monaco Basket), and Michael Foster (NBA G League Ignite) appear in the film as well.
Former players like Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, Mark Jackson, José Calderón, Felipe Reyes, Leandro Barbosa, Maurice Cheeks, and Aaron McKie are part of the cast. Emeka Okafor and Dell Demps are other former players in the film. Grayson “The Professor” Boucher, Chris “Lethal Shooter” Matthews, Aaron “AO” Owens, Larry “Bone Collector” Williams, Lonnie “Prime Objective” Harrell, and Waliyy “Main Event” Dixon also appear in ‘Hustle.’
Read More: Is Hustle Based On A True Story?