Comic Book Curious


September 6, 2022

Hustle, a 2022 movie directed by Jeremiah Zagar, is about Philadelphia 76ers' scout Stanley Sugerman’s (Adam Sandler) exceptional love for basketball, leading him to the discovery of a lifetime: a basketball prodigy on the streets of Spain. Before the discovery, Stanley, who has higher ambitions of being a coach, remains forced to be on the road, traveling, looking for the next big talent. His rigorous and continuous search around the world leads him to Spain, where he discovers a construction worker, Bo Cruz (NBA player Juancho Hernangómez who currently plays for Toronto Raptors), who is an incredible street basketball player with a troubled past. Aside from Toronto Raptors player Juancho Hernangómez, the film is packed with current and former NBA players, such as Anthony Edwards, Boban Marjanovic, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, and Kenny Smith.

Stanley Sugerman is a long-time international scout for the Philadelphia 76ers whose big dreams have always been to get off the road and move into coaching. After constant traveling and scouting, his dream is finally realized when the team owner Rex Merrick (Robert Duval), informs Stanley he's moving to the bench to become a coach. He can finally settle down and spend more time with his wife Teresa (Queen Latifah) and teenage daughter Alex (Jordan Hull), an aspiring filmmaker.


Adam Sandler as Stanley in Hustle.

Credit: Netflix


Just before the promotion is realized, the owner, Rex, dies (Very unlucky). Stanley is now forced to deal with new owner Vince Merrick (Ben Foster), the son of Rex. Both were seen as rivals, with Vince being a bully and constantly picking on Stanley. In no time, Stanley is put back on the road with a mandate this time "Find a difference maker, or be relegated to staying on the road as a scout forever."

Due to Stanley Sugerman's constant travel looking for the next big talent, he has missed his daughter's last nine birthdays. Stanley is given the luxury of living in five-star hotels and is known to be single-handedly keeping the fast food business alive. But these cannot satisfy his need to be around his family and achieve his dreams. With Vince Merrick now handling most affairs in his father's company, Stanley is about to spend his daughter's next birthday on the road.

His desperate search takes him to Spain, a trip that seems to be another dead end. Until one night, while walking the streets of Spain, he spots a talented giant (6 feet, 9 inches) street-baller named Bo Cruz (played by real-life NBA athlete Juancho Hernangómez) on an outdoor public court blocking and dunking with crazy speed and strength in front of plenty of spectators. After watching him play, Stanley realizes he may have just discovered a superstar in the making. Bo Cruz, a 22-year-old construction worker by day, lives with his mother and young daughter in a local area. He also hustles for easy cash on the public outdoor basketball courts at night.

An image of Bo Cruz (played by Juancho Hernangómez) playing street basketball in the movie Hustle.

Credit: Netflix

Stanley successfully convinces Bo Cruz to return with him to the USA. This proved difficult as it was hard for Bo to leave his family and his work behind. Unfortunately, things do not go according to plan when Bo is given the opportunity to showcase his skills. He screws up on the court after being taunted and trash-talked by another player Kermit Wilts (Anthony Edwards), leaving him at a disadvantage as team manager Vince Merrick refuses to give Bo a shot, stating clearly that he does not want him on his team.

Bo Cruz being trash talked by another player on the court in Hustle.

Credit: Netflix

At some point, Stanley quit because he became fed up with Vince's constant ridicule and his decision not to take Bo. The rest of the movie follows the journey of Stanley and Bo together. Stanley, who has always dreamed of being a coach, decides to take it upon himself to mentor Bo, get him into shape, and strengthen him mentally (to overcome an incident he encountered with Kermit Wilts). Bo gets invited into Stanley's home and bonds with him and his family. They both worked together to give themselves the opportunity to improve their standing within the NBA and get them into the league. This is as much Bo's redemption story as Stanley's hero's journey.

Stanley and Cruz on the court learning together in Hustle.

Credit: Netflix

Hustle was an enjoyable watch, and you don't have to know much about basketball to understand the movie (although I learned that Basketball is a beautiful and fantastic sport). Hustle is a sweet, comedic, and inspirational movie that touches the heart in every suitable place. It might not inspire you to get onto the basketball court, but it will spur you in other aspects of life. Obstacles don't have to stop you. Whatever you go through, don't give up when you run into a wall. Go against all the odds and find your way to scale through. The journey will get rough, but with hard work, a positive mindset, and the right attitude towards work, be sure to reap the rewards in the end.

About the author: My name is Franklin Ifeanyi. I am someone who likes to help people; I hope to do that with writing.

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