'He Got Game' is one of the most popular and influential basketball movies of all time. Directed by Spike Lee and with Ray Allen playing the leading role of a character famously known as Jesus Shuttlesworth. The legendary Denzel Washington played his dad and did a great job in his own right, delivering an iconic performance on screen. It is a must-watch movie for every avid basketball fan if they haven't had the opportunity to see it already.
It all started with an audition
In an interview with BasketballNews, Ray Allen talks about the movie and how we actually got the role through a personal encounter with Spike while playing against the Knicks. As we can imagine, this happened in the '90s, and Spike was one of the biggest trash-talkers sitting courtside. Spike even got into it with Allen because Allan Houston was constantly giving him the business on both ends of the floor, and it took him some time to adjust to playing in the NBA. He saw something in Ray and told him what the movie was about and how he should audition for the role.
He finally got me and said he is doing this movie and wanted me to audition for it. The moment the season ended, I would go to the city and do the auditions. I had no clue what I was doing. I thought Spike lost his mind because he clearly didn't know what he was trying to do. Spike told me he doesn't want an actor that tries to play basketball; he wanted a basketball player that we could help get to act. During the audition period, Denzel, on the last day, vouched for me and said, hey, this is the guy, this is the one. Spike told me if you are willing to commit, the role is yours.
Ray Allen, via BasketballNews
Stephon Marbury should have got the role
There was even some rumor that Allen wasn't the first option for this role and that Spike initially wanted Kobe Bryant. He says that is a misconception and how he was always the first option for Spike even though he admits Stephon Marbury should have done this role because most of the movie was filmed in his neighborhood.
There is a misconception because people think that Kobe was supposed to be Jesus. People thought Felipe Lopez, Allen Iverson, or Stephon Marbury were supposed to be Jesus. I think it would've been appropriate if Steph was Jesus because we filmed in his neighborhood, in his projects. Spike wanted all of us to read the part of Jesus, and by giving you the part of Jesus, you're going to get part of someone else in the movie. It was up to Spike to decide who was going to be in what position in the movie. I was fortunate because he picked me, and I remember I didn't want to be the guy that said, hey, I was supposed to be in that movie. Now I can really talk about how it impacted my life and to be able to say that when you go through your career that you were able to do this amazing movie that transformed a generation of young people in all sorts.
Ray Allen, via BasketballNews
Allen thinks that is one of his best off-the-floor ventures because it allowed him to work with other great personas on the same project while making an impactful movie about the game of basketball. It still, to this day, remains one of the best basketball movies ever made, and even Allen shared there are various concepts discussed already on how the sequel would look like in the future. Whether it will come to a realization or not remains to be seen, but hopefully, we'll have the opportunity to watch another great basketball movie.