Ray Allen was on the Knuckleheads Podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles recently, where he talked about ‘He Got Game’.
Allen was cast by Spike Lee on a movie called ‘He Got Game’ in the year 1998 alongside one of the greatest actors of all time in Denzel Washington. This movie came out as Allen was only a sophomore in the NBA.
His subsequent rise to prominence as a legitimate star in the league meant that this movie and Allen’s character as Jesus Shuttleworth is now inseparably associated with him.
QRich asked him how this opportunity came about in their recent podcast and Allen responded brightly:
“I didn’t know any of that leading up to it. It started because…when we were playing in the Garden earlier in the season, Allan Houston is killing me. He might have 14 or 15 at the half.”
“Spike was like ‘You’re gonna guard Allan? What you gonna do? And so, at the end of the season, Allan probably had like 8 or 9, and probably wasn’t doing what he did before. Spike was over there trying to get my attention and I was ignoring him.”
“He finally got my attention and he was like ‘Hey, I’m shooting this movie. When this season’s over, come over and audition, and I was like ‘Bet.'”
“I was just in Connecticut, so I drove in like every week, and I started doing these auditions. I remember the first audition I did, I did with Nicole Ari Parker. We had to do these love scenes. Then I did a love scene with Salli Richardson … because they’re auditioning for the role of Lala.”
How ‘He Got Game’ featuring Ray Allen and Denzel Washington became popular
Ray Allen was praised as one of the few basketball players who’d been cast on the basis of his great acting. Though he never acted in a movie after this one, Allen’s role is fondly looked back at, even today.
Spike Lee was lauded for hitting the selection of his Jesus Shutleworth character out of the park. Denzel Washington, who plays Allen’s father in the movie, was also praised for his portrayal of this character.
The movie was not well-received by the audiences and eventually was a box office flop, but basketball aficionados continue to redisover this movie and spread it to niche audiences due to its enduring quality.