Ray Allen starred in one of the most popular basketball movies of all time in He Got Game and it propelled him to stardom. Well, turns out that another young superstar was supposed to play the role, but he turned it down. Kobe Bryant made his first all-star team in 1998, and he was known as one of the future stars of the league. Bryant was the cover story on this week’s Sports Illustrated, and he gave us some insight to the role of Jesus Shuttlesworth:
That summer Spike Lee begins filming He Got Game, a movie with DenzelWashington about a basketball prodigy named Jesus Shuttlesworth. “I want you to be part of it,” Lee tells Bryant. “Thank you but no thank you,” Bryant says. “This summer is too big for me.” Ray Allen lands the role as Shuttlesworth.
Who knows what the movie may have been like if Bryant had starred in it, but Ray Allen has embraced it. The NBA will allow players from the Nets and Heat to wear their nicknames on the back of their jerseys for one game, and Allen has said he will wear “Shuttlesworth” on the back of his. This is an interesting part of NBA and movie history that could have been different.