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By Darius Boamah Summer Staff Writer
Athletes and the cinema work hand-in-hand, there are lots of instances where athletes have taken their talents to the big screen. Here are five of the greatest movies starring athletes.
First, I want to name some honorable mentions. As noted in the beginning of this article, there are lots and lots of movies that feature athletes trying their hand at acting. Now starting the honorable mentions: Kicking and Screaming with Mike Ditca (football player and coach), He Got Game starring Ray Allen (basketball player), any movie with Shaquile O’Neal, Ace Ventura with (quarterback Dan Marino), Deadpool featuring MMA fighter Gina Carano, and Uncle Drew, which features several basketball players.
Now for my top five…
5. The Hangover
At number five is The Hangover, a comedy about a group of friends who embark on a wild adventure after a night out. The Hangover is a classic comedy that boasts a very strong cast, which includes Iron Mike Tyson, who is one of the greatest boxers of our time. In this movie, he plays himself, as he is a part of the wild ride that Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galafanakis, and Justin Bartha face after their night out in Las Vegas. While he does not have the largest role in the film, he definitely has a lasting effect because of the comedy he brings to the movie. He even gets to show his boxing skills when he KO’s Galafanakis.
4. Fast and Furious (Franchise)
Sitting at number four is the Fast and Furious series. Fast and Furious is a nine movie adventure with several spinoffs. It has captivated audiences for a long time and continues to do so through the spinoffs that have been produced in recent years. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is one of the stars of this movie. However, before his role as Luke Hobbs, the rock was a WWE wrestler, and a great one at that. He has long been involved in theatrics as he was a top WWE fighter, so making the transition to Hollywood was natural for him. He is a fan favorite character in the series and he has gone on to be one of Hollywood’s most popular actors.
3. Rocky (Franchise)
Number three, Rocky. Another classic on the list, Rocky is about a small-town man who learns to box and takes it to a whole new level. There are tons of famous lines and scenes, like when he jogs up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Rocky’s competition is the notorious Apollo Creed who is played by Carl Weathers. Before Weather’s took on this role, he was a football player. He didn’t have an extremely long career in the NFL. He started his career at the Raiders, he went undrafted in 1970 and then signed onto the team as a free agent. He played eight games and then was released in 1971. After that, he signed for the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League where he played for three seasons. His background in sports helped him in his role as Apollo Creed because he already had the physique to play the part. Now Carl Weathers is another top actor in Hollywood, he has been in films like, Happy Gilmore and Toy Story, and now he has a role in the new Star Wars show, The Madalorian.
2. Like Mike
At number two is Like Mike. Arguably one of the greatest basketball movies of all time, Like Mike follows a boy, Calvin Cambridge, who is imbued with the skills of Michael Jordan after finding his sneakers on a telephone wire. Throughout this movie, several basketball stars appear on the court playing against Cambridge. Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, and Steve Nash are a few of them. The movie was co-produced by NBA Entertainment and it features real basketball teams like the San Antonio Spurs, the Seattle Supersonics, and the New Jersey Nets. Not only was this a fun movie for the NBA to help produce and increase fans and viewership, it also helped the younger generation to connect with Michael Jordan. Cambridge was an easy way for the youth to connect with Jordan; they could actually get to see a Jordan-like person dominating basketball.
1. Space Jam
Now for number one, an all-time fan favorite, Space Jam. This movie is the culmination of popular culture in the 90s; it brings the iconic Looney Toons together with basketball superstar Michael Jordan. The story starts when Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck challenge little aliens to a basketball game. After that, several NBA players, Charles Barkely, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, and Larry Johnson, lose their ability to play basketball because their talent was stolen by the aliens. With their new abilities, the aliens become a more formidable force against the Tune Squad, and that is what brings Michael Jordan into this picture. Bugs Bunny recruits Jordan for the squad, with the hope of beating the aliens, who now call themselves the Monstars. Jordan working with the Looney Tunes offers lots of comedic interactions between the characters which makes this movie very enjoyable; viewers get to see Jordan on the big screen talking with Bugs Bunny. The other basketball players included in the film also have several funny moments after realizing that their talent is gone. Space Jam is a classic and it brings together two worlds, cartoons and basketball.
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