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Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and more: 5 NBA players who have acted in major Hollywood movies – Sportskeeda

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Players in the NBA have managed to pull large crowds, not only to the arena they’re hooping in, but also on the big screen.
Four-time NBA champion Jamaal Wilkes initiated ties with Hollywood in 1971 when he took on a leading role in “Cornbread, Earl and Me.” Wilkes played the role of a standout basketball player in a movie that dealt with systemic racism and police brutality head-on.
Since then, a host of NBA stars have featured in movies. Quite a few stars are also in the movie production business. This has opened up the doors for basketball professionals to try their hand at acting.
Although their focus remains on the long and grueling season, players have started using these channels to improve their reach and fanbase. That said, let’s take a look at some NBA players who have acted in major Hollywood movies.
Kevin Garnett has played small roles in Hollywood movies before and has acted in TV series as well. However, his most recent appearance in Adam Sandler’s “Uncut Gems” in 2019, showcased his prowess as an actor.
Streaming on Netflix, the movie revolves around sports gambling and Garnett plays the role of a person obsessed with gems.
Originally, the directors Josh and Benny Safdie had Amar’e Stoudemire in mind for the role. He played high-level basketball in the 2010-11 season, and the Safdie brothers are die-hard New York Knicks fans. However, as time passed, they got busy with other projects – and a few years later, Kevin Garnett got the call up.
Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been around the film industry since 1980, acting in a variety of movies. His big-screen debut came in 1980, when he acted as a co-pilot on ’Airplane!’.
Since then he’s had a few small as well as big roles, and has done justice to all those opportunities.
LeBron James is unfazed by the camera, given the limelight he’s been under since the start of his career.
He appeared on the big-screen performance in 2015, playing himself in “Trainwreck.” James handed out advice to Bill Hader’s character, who is a sports doctor, in a scene packed with humor.
LeBron James matched what Michael Jordan did off the court as well, by acting in and producing “Space Jam: A New Legacy” in 2021. The movie received mixed reviews.
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Shaquille O’Neal’s off-court life has always been a source of excitement for fans. He is a very exciting personality, which makes him an ideal fit for a career in entertainment.
O’Neal has made appearances in a wide array of movies – in both support and lead roles – while also lending his voice to animated films.
O’Neal made his big screen debut with Blue Chips in 1994, a sports drama film in which he starred alongside Penny Hardaway. Within two years, he bagged a leading role as a wish-granting genie in Kazaam. Grown Ups 2 and Uncle Drew are other movies that O’Neal played noteworthy roles in.
Michael Jordan made his big screen entry in 1996, with ‘Space Jam’ – where he played himself and doubled-up on his fan following.
The movie also features Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Larry Bird, and Muggsy Bogues.
Jordan also acted in a basketball movie – ‘He Got Game’ – alongside Ray Allen, Rick Fox, Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller, Charles Barkey, and Scottie Pippen.


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