What Happened to Stan’s Hand in Hustle? Why Didn’t He Become an NBA Player?

Netflix’s ‘Hustle’ follows Adam Sandler’s Stanley Sugerman, a talent scout, who searches for great basketball players around the world. Despite being great at his job, what he really wants is to become an assistant coach. For someone who loves basketball so much and wants to work as a coach of an NBA team, we wonder why Stan never became a professional basketball player himself.

The reason behind it becomes clear when we see that he has an injury on his left hand. When Bo asks him about it, Stan deflects the question. He says it was “a freak thing”, “a car accident” that happened “a long time ago”. His reaction makes it clear that he is touchy about the subject and doesn’t like to discuss it with everyone. It is only later, when Bo opens up to him about his personal life, that Stan finds it in himself to discuss that terrible tragedy. Here’s what had happened to him.

What Happened to Stan’s Hand?

When Bo comes over to the Sugarman house for dinner, Teresa tells him that Stan had been a very good basketball player back in college. Bo already knew that Stan had played for Temple Owls men’s basketball team, and had earned the name of Double Deuce due to his jersey number 22. Leon Rich, a sports agent and Stanley’s close friend, had also been a part of the team.

One time, after a game at Villanova, they attended a party where they got drunk. While going back home, Stan drove under the influence of alcohol. It was already bad that he was drunk driving, but what happened next suggests that they weren’t wearing seat belts either. In one moment of distraction, Stan lost complete control of the car. It hit a telephone pole, and Leon, who was riding shotgun, flew forward to the windshield. Stan shot his hand out to save his friend, but both of them sustained injuries.

While Leon recovered from whatever damage the accident inflicted on him, Stan’s hand “was pulp”. It got smashed so bad that even after all these years, he still wears a splint. With such an injury, it was impossible for Stan to ever go back to basketball. The same year, with two team members unable to play, Temple lost its shot at the NCAA title. This incident changed the course of Stan’s life, who loved nothing more than basketball.

The accident led Stan to spend six months in jail and he got to really think about his choices, and how one careless move had impacted not just him, but also his friend, as well as, their team. He still carries that guilt, which is clear from his reactions. When Teresa starts to talk about how promising a player he was, he interrupts her and finds an excuse to leave the dinner table. He knows what he lost, which is why perhaps he is so adamant about getting Bo the due that he deserves.

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