Ready for their closeups: Your Lakers, or their Celtics

After all these takes and retakes, you’d think L.A. would have Hollywood’s red carpet on its side entering a 12th encounter with the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

Apparently, Mr. Nicholson, you don’t know Jack.

And what’s a Jesus Shuttlesworth on the DVD resale market?

If the Lakers of the past had a much broader resume in the movie business, the result of this year’s the most revealing matchup of this series – silver-screen pedigree – points toward a edge for these Celtics that Roger Ebert and the Internet Movie Database would dutifully acknowledge.


Before you go digging out Judd Apatow’s “Celtic Pride” from 14 years ago to see if its held up all these years later, consider how the Hollywood Walk of Fame would judge these candidates for future enshrinement based on their bodies of work in the film industry:



Ray Allen

Back in 1998, Spike Lee recruited him to play opposite Denzel Washington (the frequent Lakers courtside seat filler) in “He Got Game.” Allen, as Jesus Shuttlesworth, the No. 1 college recruit and estranged son of the imprisoned Jake Shuttlesworth, supposedly wasn’t Lee’s first choice. Allen Iverson turned it down. Rick Fox, Travis Best and Walter McCarter were also auditioned.


Wrote Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times about Allen in his review (linked here): “(The film) never creates artificial drama with game sequences, even though Ray Allen, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, is that rarity, an athlete who can act.”

In 2001, Allen came back in the role of Marcus Blake in “Harvard Man,” with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Adrian Grenier (pre “Entourage”) and Joey Lauren Adams. Christopher Null, of, praised the cast’s performance but added “Only Ray Allen (as Grenier’s teammate) disappoints – as usual, his line readings come off as exactly that and little more.”

Yeah, but he’s still got game.

Rajon Rondo

The recently released “Just Wright,” with Common as a member of the New Jersey Nets, also includes Dwight Howard, Bobby Simmons, Rashard Lewis and Dwayne Wade. But Rondo blows past all of them.

Kevin Garnett


Asked to play Wilt Chamberlain in the 1996 made-for-TV flick “Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault,” Garnett stood tall, opposite Don Cheadle as Manigault.

Rasheed Wallace

Remember him as “Whitley” in the 2002 “Juwanna Mann,” a teammate of Vlade Divac? Dikembe Mutombo and Mugsy Bogues, who were also in it, probably do. Wallace was also as himself (with current Celtics teammate Michael Finley) in the 2002 “Like Mike,” which also included Chris Weber, Gary Payton, Tracy McGrady, Jason Kidd, Iverson, David Robinson, Steve Nash . . . and no one else saw it?

Doc Rivers

The Celtics coach played himself, as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, in the 1996 “Eddie,” with Whoopi Goldberg as coach of the New York Knicks. So now you know where Doc got all his strategy.

Celtics of the past

Larry Bird played himself in “Space Jam,” “Celtic Pride” and “Blue Chips” . . . Bob Cousy played a coach, Vic, in “Blue Chips” and played himself, as did Bill Walton, in “Celtic Pride” . . . On TV, Bill Russell hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 1979 and was in an episode of “The White Shadow,” “Love American Style” and “Miami Vice” . . . Kevin McHale made it into a couple episodes of “Cheers.”


Kobe Bryant


Do documentaries count? With the Lakers playing catchup at this point. they need every help they can get.

And Spike Lee is there, again.

He came looking for Kobe when he decided to follow an NBA player around, and the result was “Kobe Doin’ Work” in 2009.

A review from’s Lang Whitaker (linked here): “There’s the matter of Kobe’s voiceover … Kobe narrates much of the action, explaining what plays are happening and at one point giving a long, interesting explanation of what the Triangle Offense actually is. But Kobe also spends a lot of the voiceover telling us things we already know (i.e.: he hates turnovers) and, worse, he almost seems to be trying to convince us of how much he loves basketball and that he has a high basketball IQ. At one point he even claims that he calls a lot of the inbounds plays before Phil does because they’ve been together for so long that they now see the court in the same way. (Although I’m pretty sure Phil’s been around the game a little longer than Kobe has.)”

Before that, the best acting Kobe did was playing someone named “Terry Hightower” in a 1996 episode of the TV show “Moesha,” when he was 18 at the time. Many remember he taking actress Brandy to her prom that year.

Lamar Odom

Somehow, a bunch of Clippers got into the 2002 film “Van Wilder” with Ryan Reynolds and Tara Reid. But while Michael Olowokandi, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson played themselves (as did Erik Estrada), Odom was given the name Coolidge Chickadee Player.

Prior to that, Odom had only an episode of “Arliss” to prepare for this role of a lifetime. Unless you count “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”


Phil Jackson

The Lakers coach is listed in the credits for the 2005 film “Be Cool,” with Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn and John Travolta. But how cool can you be if the scene, where he played himself, was apparently cut. Jackson is also uncredited for an appearance as himself in the 2004 film “After the Sunset” with Salma Hayek, Pierce Brosnan and Woody Harrelson.

Ron Artest (linked here) isn’t clear on this, but Ron-Ron seems to be credited with an appearance in a straight-to-video 2004 thing called “Murda Muzik.” And he’s listed in called “They Call Me Crazy,” which is still, appropriately, in development.

Sasha Vujacic

Listed as “himself” in a still-in-production comedy called “Garbage,” about two Hollywood trashmen who find a Best Supporting Oscar in the garbage. Sasha, again, involved in garbage time.

Lakers of the past

If Shaquille O’Neal could post up his work up against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, what a giant film festival that would be.

Shaq, of course, during his time with the Lakers cranked out “Kazaam” (1996) and “Steel” (’97) following his role in “Blue Chips,” and before he embarked in “Freddie Got Fingered” and “Scary Movie 4.”


Kareem’s career goes back to the 1978 Bruce Lee classic “Game of Death,” but he’s most remembered as Roger Murdock (actually, himself) in the 1980 “Airplane!” Otherwise, roles in “Fletch,” “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,” “BASEketball,” “D2: The Mighty Ducks” and as a presenter at the Academy Awards possibly made most forget that he did appear in “Slam Dunk Earnest.”

Lakers radio analyst Mychal Thompson hadn’t made it to the team yet when he did “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh” (1979), but Kurt Rambis was back with the Lakers when he did the Billy Crystal movie “Forget Paris” (1995), and Vlade Divac and Cedric Ceballos were members of the Lakers in “Space Jam” (A.C. Green was also in it, but with the Phoenix Suns by then).

Over in TV Land

Derek Fisher, in the series “Eve” back in 2003, is credited with the role of “Trevor.” Eight years earlier, he made it into the LL Cool J TV series “In the House,” as himself. In two episodes . . . Luke Walton has an appearance in “Young and the Restless” on his resume . . . Pau Gasol played Victor Emparo in an episode of “CSI: Miami” last year, and as himself in an episode of “Numb3rs” the year before . . . Jordan Farmar was in two episodes of “Numb3rs” . . . And Lakers owner Jerry Buss was on the televised 2004 Miss USA pageant as a celebrity judge, as well as numerous televised poker tournaments.
And if you’re going retro TV: Magic Johnson’s short run of host of “The Magic Hour” in 1998, and as “Ringer Hockey Player No. 32” in an episode of “Malcolm in the Middle” paled in comparison to his role of executive producer on many other film and TV projects. And remember James Worthy as a guest klingon in an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” as himself in an episode of “Webster” (1987, “The Importance of Being Worthy”) and in “Everybody Loves Raymond” back in ’97?

The wild card

Chick Hearn – again, going back to old-school Lakers – shake ‘n’ baked perhaps the most Shakespearean list of screen credits of anyone involved with either team. The highlights: “White Men Can’t Jump” and “Love & Basketball” (with Stu Lantz), “Volunteers,” “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “The Love Bug,” “Fletch,” “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh.” And then there’s “Bowling for Dollars.”

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