The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.


Sports Authority

Adams: 2-on-2 basketball movie bracket, pt. 1

| Tuesday, August 4, 2020

I love basketball, and I love basketball movies. As such, I thought it would be a fun exercise to pit the best players from some of the best basketball movies against each other.

Of course, these movies encompass all levels of the sport, from high school up through the pros, so there are some mismatches. To that, I say, “Tough luck, I’m still doing it.” To be fair though, and since a few of these movies don’t involve full teams, this will be a two-on-two tourney.

There are 16 teams seeded by what I perceive to be a pretty straightforward assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. Games are half-court to 21 by ones and twos with no make-it, take-it rule in effect. And, to be clear, this is based on how the players perform in the movie, regardless of the actual actors’ or real-life persons’ skill levels. So let’s get on with the first-round games.


1-seed Michael Jordan and Lola Bunny (“Space Jam”) vs. 16-seed Air Bud and Josh Framm (“Air Bud”)

Let’s get this over with quickly, shall we? The most intriguing aspect of this match is that two animals face off. Just like no rule says a dog can’t play basketball, there’s no rule that a bunny can’t either. And this bunny is a baller. Plus, MJ would probably make up some story of Josh insulting him just to get himself motivated, then destroy the 12-year-old. We’re looking at a 21-0 game here for the Tune Squad.


2-seed Calvin Cambridge and Tracy Reynolds (“Like Mike”) vs. 15-seed “Pistol” Pete Maravich and Buddy Pendleton (“The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend”)

You may sense a pattern in these matchups. The first one was two animals; this one is two children. Cambridge is mooching off of Jordan’s talent from some lightning-saturated sneakers, while Maravich is just making a name for himself as an eighth-grader on the varsity team. The Pistol’s skill with the ball is undeniable, even at a young age, but Cambridge and Reynolds are pros, and the coach’s son Buddy Pendleton isn’t doing much to square up with the pros. LA Knights take it, but Pistol puts up a fight.


3-seed Bobby Joe Hill and David Lattin (“Glory Road”) vs. 14-seed Jimmy Chitwood and Strap Purl (“Hoosiers”)

This one just isn’t fair, is it? Chitwood may have been a fantastic high school player, but his defensive shortcomings bite him in the bud here, even with no make-it, take-it. Purl has the Lord on his side, but God only cares so much about basketball. Meanwhile, Lattin was an eight-year pro and Hill could have had an illustrious pro career in his own right. Big Daddy D is throwing down dunks on the Indiana boys and the Miners roll.


4-seed Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane (“White Men Can’t Jump”) vs. 13-seed Odin James and Hugo Goulding (“O”)

Queue Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney’s “Ebony and Ivory.” There’s a lot of racial tension inherent in this game (if you haven’t seen “O”, fair warning, it gets ugly). For fairness’ sake, let’s say Hugo hasn’t yet begun to destroy Odin’s life. For me, this comes down to Odin shouldering too much of the load. Both Hoyle and Deane are threats to score, and Hugo’s not bringing enough offense to the table. The Hawks gets knocked out and Goulding has more time to himself to plot James’ demise.


5-seed Butch McRae and Neon Boudeaux (“Blue Chips”) vs. 12-seed Troy Bolton and Chad Danforth (“High School Musical 3”)

Let’s be serious, I can’t honestly say Shaq and Penny lose to these “High School Musical” chumps, even if they were being recruited by Cal and Arizona. What I can do, however, is disqualify Boudeaux and McRae for taking illegal benefits. That’s right, I run a clean league, and the East High boys are singing and dancing their way into the Elite Eight.


6-seed Jesus Shuttlesworth and Jake Shuttlesworth (“He Got Game”) vs. 11-seed Kyle Lee Watson and Thomas “Shep” Sheppard (“Above the Rim”)

A couple of high-level high school prospects (both being recruited by Georgetown, coincidentally) teaming up with an oldhead baller makes for an interesting matchup. Honestly, it’s a pretty even matchup. Watson was balling even in khakis, and the elder Shuttlesworth could drain it in the prison yard. Shockingly enough though, with the young guns evenly matched, the khakis are what puts it over the top for me, because even with them Shep could take punishment from Birdie (Tupac)’s boys and deal it back to ‘em. Jake can’t keep up with his matchup, and we have our second straight upset bid as the Shuttlesworths fall.


7-seed Uncle Drew and Big Fella (“Uncle Drew”) vs. 10-seed Damien Carter and Kenyon Stone (“Coach Carter”)

I was going to seed them higher, but Drew and Big Fella are just too geriatric to have much higher. With them, however, age doesn’t seem to affect them for whatever reason. Gotta respect Samuel L. Jackson’s team for their work ethic and discipline, but this is no contest. I’ll let one of Shaq’s characters get a dub as the old farts advance.


8-seed Jackie Moon and Clarence “Downtown” “Coffee Black” Withers (“Semi-Pro”) vs. 9-seed Monica Wright and Quincy McCall (“Love & Basketball”)

An NBA player and WNBA/European player against two ABA players. One of those ABA players invented the alley-oop and the other was the first to implement it. This is a tough one because Jackie is a liability in a lot of respects. Even so, he can go off for 30 rebounds on any given night (if he’s drunk). In any case, Jackie’s dirty play is probably enough to keep his matchup in check, and Coffee Black is dunking over McCall even before the latter’s ACL tear. Flint Tropics moving on in a tough one.


There you have the first round of the tournament. All results are indisputable, though I welcome any feedback. Stay tuned for the conclusion of this bracket.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

Contact Hayden