with Cody Tannen-Barrup, Steven Strong, Nate Mondschein, Chris Dodson, Sasha Klare-Ayvazian – In what is far and away our most epic piece to date, FIVE MMH contributors battle at the highest level: the definitive movie character pickup basketball draft. Five GMs each with five draft selections, which team will reign supreme?
Our little growing family over here at music, movies, and hoops decided that we had too much time on our hands over the holidays. So we invested a large chunk of it and dug deep into the cinematic world of basketball.
Five of us drafted a pickup basketball team comprised entirely of movie characters and voted on the strongest team. We had to come up with some parameters so it wasn’t a complete free for all.
1.) The character must be from a live-action movie.
So no animation, sorry Space Jam Lola Bunny or Brave Little Toaster.
2.) No powers, no magic, etc.
No superheroes or wizards, sorry Superman and Harry Potter.
3.) Biopics are fine, but no athletes playing themselves.
You could take Boobie Miles from Friday Night Lights, but not LeBron in Trainwreck.
Important note: players playing other people are fair game. That’s half the fun. But you are getting the character, not the actor.
4.) Only humans.
No Ents from Lord of the Rings, even if they’d be dominant in the post.
1. Nate Mondschein
2. Chris Dodson
3. Steven Strong
4. Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
5. Cody Tannen-Barrup
Alright, without further to do, here is the draft, teams, and voting! This way, if you want to get the quick hit of juicy information, it is there for you. That said, the pick justifications are a truly incredible piece of work. Keep on scrolling below the voting graph if you wish to check out the excessive massive amount of thought that we put into this. Here we go!
1. Nate – Neon Bordeaux, Blue Chips
2. Dodson – Jesus Shuttlesworth, He Got Game
3. Steven – Saleh, The Air Up There
4. Sasha – Hawkeye, Avengers
5. Cody – Shep, Above the Rim
6. Cody – Monica Wright, Love and Basketball
7. Sasha – Jaws, Moonraker
8. Steven – Ernest, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
9. Dodson – Hustler, Fast Break
10. Nate – Uncle Drew, Uncle Drew
11. Nate – Billy Hoyle, White Men Can’t Jump
12. Dodson – Duck Johnson, White Men Can’t Jump
13. Steven – Bobby Joe Hill, Glory Road
14. Sasha – Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
15. Cody – Ong Bak, Ong Bak
16. Cody – Rocky Douglas, Three Ninjas
17. Sasha – Batman, The Dark Knight
18. Steven – Jenko, 21 Jump Street
19. Dodson – Jimmy Chitwood, Hoosiers
20. Nate – Sarah Connor, Terminator Dark Fate
21. Nate – Mantis/Hakim, Game of Death
22. Dodson – Rocky, Rocky
23. Steven – Happy Gilmore, Happy Gilmore
24. Sasha – Achilles, Troy
25. Cody – Kenny Tyler, The Sixth Man
Neon Bordeaux, Blue Chips
Uncle Drew, Uncle Drew
Billy Hoyle, White Men Can’t Jump
Sarah Connor, Terminator Dark Fate
Mantis/Hakim, Game of Death
Jesus Shuttlesworth, He Got Game
Hustler, Fast Break
Duck Johnson, White Men Can’t Jump
Jimmy Chitwood, Hoosiers
Saleh, The Air Up There
Ernest, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Bobby Joe Hill, Glory Road
Jenko, 21 Jump Street
Happy Gilmore, Happy Gilmore
Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
Batman, The Dark Knight
Shep, Above the Rim
Monica Wright, Love and Basketball
Ong Bak, Ong Bak
Rocky Douglas, Three Ninjas
Kenny Tyler, The Sixth Man
WHO DO YOU THINK WON? Let us know in the comments! We did an internal vote and Nate won. CONGRATULATIONS Nate! (Editor’s note: Cody compiled this. And almost quit from rage).
Here’s how our voting breakdown:
If you’ve taken from this column everything you need to, as I always say, have a great day!
But if you’re stuck with in-laws for a few days, trapped in a COVID + winter vortex, avoiding returning to work, or just in for the long haul, here is our scroll length draft odyssey. Cheers!
Pick 1: Nate Mondschein
With the number one pick in the Music Movies and Hoops draft, Nate’s Team will be selecting Neon Boudeaux (portrayed by Shaquille O’Neal), the highly touted prospect recruited by Coach Pete Bell to play at Western University Dolphins in 1994s Blue Chips. Our first intro to Neon is in the midst of an offensively and defensively dominant pickup game performance, during which he is described as “not just big. He quick. Got big hands. Watch how he moves away from the ball.” Neon goes on to have a successful pro career, and will be the cornerstone of our pickup franchise for years to come.
Sasha: Jesus Nate… wow you really went there. Impossible to argue with!
Pick 2: Chris Dodson
Perfect. The number 2 spot is perfect. Either I got Neon, or I get to counter with some crazy sleeper picks later and get Jesus Shuttlesworth. Ray Allen’s shot is akin to a deep freeze of frozen money it’s so cold and accurate. Shuttlesworth’s was even better. Name another prospect on this list that was actually having to turn down all the money and cars of being a lottery pick like Kobe or Kevin Garnett? Even Neon was going to need several seasons of under the table college benefits, just like Shaq. No, Shuttlesworth was just such a can’t miss prospect raised from the concrete that the governor and a warden got involved in his recruitment, murdered wife rap be damned. Shuttlesworth had Kobe’s mentality, Iverson’s guarded view of the world, and was altering political moves before Obama ever watched LeBron play a game. That’s a lot of one-named icons, and Jesus belongs on that list. Yea, I said it.
Cody: Jesus in the two slot is a quality pick! He was 1 on my board.
Sasha: Oh he was? 😉
Pick 3: Steven Strong
With the third pick in the Movie Character Pick Up League 2020 draft I, Steven Strong, GM, owner, head coach and occasional 7th man for the Strong Stunnas Pick Up Squad select Saleh of The Air Up There (1994). A 6’10” dunking machine, Saleh can outwork, outhustle, outrebound any matchup with his big body, stifling frame. Saleh is definitely a raw prospect, compared to some, but has the potential to be among ranks of the greats, drawing some early comparisons to Hakeem the Dream. Time will tell, but Saleh is sure to solidify Coach Strong’s legacy if the team is able to reach the mountain top that they’ve set their sights on from the start.
Pick 4: Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
Alright so far everyone has taken portrayals of hoopers. I think it’s time for me to think like Morey, think like Billy Beane, where can I find underrated value? God I wish the “only human” rule wasn’t there. I had Treebeard on my board. I’m going Hawkeye. As far as I know he has no actual powers. But you know what he does have: transcendent hand-eye coordination. Y’all can battle for the paint. My boy is gonna make Steph look like he’s lacking range, at halfcourt throwing fire.
Sasha: Was he on your board?
Nate: Very much so on my board.
Sasha: Yeah… that’ll happen.
Nate: Aggressively on my board
Cody: I had Saleh and Hawkeye on my board. I can’t believe Saleh went 3. I thought I had a round.
Pick 5: Cody Tannen-Barrup
I’m finishing round one with the 5th pick. My team is overjoyed to be taking Thomas “Shep” Sheppard. He was played by Leon “Cool Runnings” Robinson in Above The Rim. This man can drop 10 threes in a game when the other team is playing like the Bad Boys Pistons on steroids. They are literally punching him. Yet, he was raining from anywhere. Just to add some icing on that cake, he’s throwing down dunks and making two clutch defensive plays. One is definitely illegal, but still clutch nonetheless. He’s got toughness and skill and just for fun, he wins the game with an assist. Like LeBron, he makes the right play. So yeah, I’ll take it.
Nate: Love this pick
Pick 6: Cody Tannen-Barrup
For my second pick and number 6 overall, I’m selecting Monica Wright out of USC. I need a guard who can make everyone happy, control the pace, and just ball out. I always liked her game more than Quincy. She had a fire. She was a winner at every level and an All-American. Plus some male players don’t take “the girl” seriously and if they do that with Monica, she will make them regret it. I want her running my squad.
She’s from Love and Basketball and played by Sanaa Lathan.
Nate: Jesus Christ Cody. Blowing up my draft.
Pick 7: Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
Okay for my second round draft pick, the 7th pick overall, I will be selecting Jaws. No not the shark, the James Bond villain. He’s going to be my enforcer. Big homie is no joke 7’2”. He’s going to contain the Neon’s, the Saleh’s of the world. And if things go south, he can, well… bite them.
Pick 8: Steven Strong
Jaws, that’s cute. For my second round pick, 8th overall I pick pre-broken-fingers Ernest out of John Wick 3: Parabellum. His left arm may be useless against JW, but he won’t even need it regardless in a pickup game. Standing at 7’4’’ and weighing about 650, nothing can get past Ernest—whether it’s a body to the basket or a ball skying to the hoop. Ernest is tough, has an incredible pain tolerance, but that won’t even be needed, as he’ll be dishing most of the pain against smaller, less skilled players. Gigantic hands that are great for passing, and a killer mentality with a one track mind, once this assassin locks in on a championship, the competition better be ready for defeat…or death.
Sasha: I almost went with him instead of Jaws!
Cody: That is fascinating as I have another character from that movie on my draft board. I also did not see the Jaws pick coming. This is what makes drafts special.
Pick 9: Chris Dodson
Neon off the board and people loading up on stiffs to patrol the paint? I’ll get to the more fun hypothetical ballers from non-hoops movies later. Streetball is no blood, no foul, all about winning. I’ve already got Jesus on the ball dominating the perimeter so I’ll simply take the BPA and the third player on my board after Neon and Jesus, and another one name star. I have to select Hustler from Fast Break (1979) because not only did the best fictional stretch four ever lead a co-ed team to number one in the nation, he did it after hustling the Bobby Knight wanna be from Big Time State in a pool game. Hustler was a veteran East Coast concrete baller. He sees all of the angles and averaged over 40 points a game for an upstart college team starting a disguised woman and a former defensive lineman who never played hoops. His coach was only paid after a win, and only $60 at that. Hustler recruited a team, carried them across the country, and played so well that season carrying dead weight that the President of the University talk New York State out of a warrant. As far as street and ball goes, there is no better selection than Hustler, played by none other than Bernard King. Since I know you youngbloods got this far but have never seen the movie.
Pick 10: Nate Mondschein
I mean, I couldn’t ask for a better alley-oop than that: with the final selection for the second round, I’ll be taking a street ball legend who skyrocketed back into the popular consciousness by eviscerating youngbloods left and right: Uncle Drew will be running the point for my team, bringing an unparalleled level of offensive versatility from the perimeter, handles that will leave every one of your defenders down a pair of ankles, a brutal capacity for shit talk (essential for any good streetballer), and perhaps most crucially, none of the drama that his portrayer Kyrie Irving tends to carry with him from team to team. Was his film just a glorified Pepsi commercial? Don’t care. Should I be concerned about his body breaking down? I’ll believe it when I see it. Uncle Drew puts Father Time in the spin cycle, is a charismatic leader, a deadly pick and roll partner for Neon, and the perfect fit for my squad.
Cody: Oh real quick, what are Uncle Drew’s views on the shape of the earth?
Pick 11: Nate Mondschein
On to round 3: I’ve got my PG, I’ve got my big, so with the first pick in the third round, I’m gonna shore up by backcourt and pair Drew with a hooper who not only brings a dominant arsenal of on-court skills, but a mental game that can disrupt any opponent he comes up against. Billy Hoyle (brilliantly portrayed by Woody Harrelson in the 1992 classic White Men Can’t Jump) is a knockdown shooter, a high IQ playmaker, a crafty defender, and most importantly, a top shelf trash talker who can rattle even the cockiest, most confident players and upend their games, darting quick hands in for a swipe while they dissolve into puddles of doubt and confusion. He’s excelled at the college level, he’s dominated the Venice streetball scene, and paired with Neon and Drew, he’s in the perfect position to thrive.
Pick 12: Chris Dodson
When Billy and Sydney heard that The King and The Duck were taking on all comers at the court, they got as excited as that kid opening the Nintendo 64 back in the days before those things become viral as we relied on America’s Funniest Home videos segments. So that’s why I have to take the best player of that legendary street hoops duo, Duck Johnson. The Duck (played by 1977 and 1978 NCAA D1 Scoring Champ Freeman Williams) is the continuation of an alternate simulation theory on where Williams went after college. The Duck ended college with more total points than everyone not named Pistol Pete Maravich. In this fiction The Duck did most of what Freeman did, becoming the first Clippers player to win Player Of The Month was back in 1980. Elton Brand was the second Clipper to win the award. The Duck then went on to the Philippines for a season and dropped 82 in a game. Deciding like Kawhi and Paul George that he preferred the easy breeze of the LA hoops scene, The Duck came home. On that fateful day a white boy learned to jump, it was on a non-regulation 2 inch short rim after The Duck and The King had played 8 games straight and were up 10 racks. Blame the rim on shoddy work by the LA Publics Aorks Department and the close loss to a well-rested and very motivated Dean/Hoyle duo catching the greatest fictional end bosses of a basketball movie ever made, Space Jam included.
Pick 13: Steven Strong
Alright with my third round pick, after locking in two solid bigs I’m going to go with Bobby Joe Hill from Glory Road, played by Derek Luke, and based on the real life story of the legendary ‘65-’66 Texas Western National Champion Basketball Team. Hill, undervalued and overlooked, never did the same to his opponents and rose up in the face of not just the pressure of college basketball, but an angry and racially divided country, especially amid the world of sports. Hill showed out when it mattered most on both ends of the court and never cared to go pro. He just cared to win and in doing so helped change the landscape of sports as we know it. He’ll be my go to scorer and his playmaking ability and great teammate instincts will elevate Saleh & Ernest to heights they never reached before.
Pick 14: Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
Okay for my 3rd pick in the movie draft, I would like to select blind monk Chirrut Îmwe from Star Wars: Rogue One. Now this homie is def not a Jedi, but I am towing the line with him being “force sensitive.” Does this pass the committee?
Cody: I think having the force counts as a power.
Sasha: God damn it. So be it. Okay, I am going to pivot and claim Katniss Everdeen off the wire. If she survived two Hunger Games, she’s got something special in her. Hawkeye and Katniss are going to be my Robinson and Herro. My dueling flamethrowers will light up the court like it’s the 4th of July. Elite shooters with the strength and agility to defend on the other end. We’re gonna play fast, we’re gonna play hard, we’re gonna move the rock.
Pick 15: Cody Tannen-Barrup
Alright alright. With the last pick in the third round, 15 overall, I am choosing to go defensive. I have my scorer and my floor general, so now I need my stopper. Good luck scoring on Ong-Bak as played by Tony Jaa. An absolute freak athlete (and not a stunt double) he will shut down the other team’s best scorer. If he can block shots by doing flip kicks, all the better, but I’ll take his ability to deflect balls, shocking balance, and nasty vertical any day. Welcome to the team.
Pick 16: Cody Tannen-Barrup
Which is why for the first pick of the round, I select Samuel Douglas, better known by his ninja name, Rocky. He’s from Three Ninjas and played by Michael Treanor. Rocky is 12 and he and his brother, Colt, get challenged to a game of basketball by some older bullies to win their bikes. Rocky inexplicably says that they’ll play to 10 (who plays to 10?) and then even more unfathomably, he spots the bullies 9 points! Anyway, I’m sure you’ve all seen it. He blocks shots like Dikembe Mutombo and hits no look threes. He finishes the game by dunking from the foul line. Talk about drafting potential! (Caveat, I am going off of the American release as in the international one, they lose the game so they can fight the bullies.)
Sasha: Wow, never seen the movie, but after watching the clip… great call.
Pick 17: Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
For my 4th pick, 17th overall. I’m keeping it 100 and going Batman. Power, speed, agility, leadership. I see him as the Draymond of my team. Muscle a board over a guy bigger than him, push the ball up the court, outlet pass to Hawkeye in the corner, cash. I’m going all in on the no traditional pg lineup. Point forward all day-Bron, Luka, Dray! My team is feeling a lot like the Mavs if they started Boban instead of KP—aka Jaws.
Cody: Which one?
Nate: Is there another answer besides Clooney?
Sasha: Yeah def the one with nips on the suit. Nah, I’m going Bale.
Pick 18: Steven Strong
Alright with whatever pick we’re on I select Gregory Jenko from 21 (& 22) Jump Street portrayed by Channing Tatum. A stud athlete in high school who becomes a stellar cop (with the help of his partner). Jenko is built for this league. Bigger, stronger, faster and more dominant than others at his size – Jenko’s heart proves to be his most useful asset as he reaches his physical potential through a combination of his love for competition and seeing his teammates succeed. With Hill at point, Jenko needs not to worry about plays or timeouts… just get the ball in the hoop.
Sasha: Dayumnnnnnn dude I love this pick. Those movies are funny as hell man.
Pick 19: Chris Dodson
My fourth round pick has to be my last “True Hooper” character, but that is fine. By picking Jimmy Chitwood from Hoosiers I’ve almost assured myself a victory. Chitwood went led an offense with a 155.08 rating according to a fun Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective project, and dropped a 30-piece in a state final without a three-point line. He is the kind of guy that can rally the troops and help change any negative momentum as evidenced by that town hall meeting. (All my guys have political moves, we can fix a game if needed.)
Pick 20: Nate Mondschein
Alright, last two picks for me. I’m loving my teams balance right now, but if there’s one area I could use a boost, it’s getting Neon a truly elite defensive partner. And if there’s one character in the history of film who screams defense, it’s Sarah Connor of the Terminator franchise. Sarah has literally made a career matching up out of position against (and repeatedly turning back) taller, stronger opponents, protecting first her son John and later Dani Ramos with a Marcus Smart level of intensity. When Sarah decides to stop an attack in its tracks, she gets the job done. And while lockdown defense is very much so her claim to fame, her years of anti-terminator training have also turned her into a dead-eye shot, capable of bullseyeing a target charging at inhuman speed while on the move herself; something tells me knocking down threes from the corner while the defense collapses on Neon or Kyrie or Billy won’t be too much of a problem. Here’s a quick highlight for those of you who have been sleeping on The Messiah Mama’s game.
Pick 21: Nate Mondschein
Which brings us to my final pick. I’m a firm believer in a winning culture being essential to a team’s long term success. But even more than that, I think that being surrounded by a team of winners can elevate a supremely talented player who hasn’t been able to put it together yet. Mantis AKA Hakim (portrayed by Kareem Abdul Jabar in Game of Death) is a shades rocking, 7’2”, ruthless enforcer whose Goliath-like strength is matched only by his lightning quick speed, evidenced by his sneaking devastating blows past the defenses of the greatest martial artist of all time in Bruce Lee’s Billy Lo. And if not for a Draymond-esque sacktapping cheap shot from Bruce (sure to get him kicked of any court we play on) it’s likely we’d already be referring to Mantis as a champion. Instead, he joins our team hungry to elevate to the next level, and is now in the perfect position to do just that. On the court, Mantis projects to be a balletic offensive talent, capable of maneuvering around the floor with ease, keeping larger defenders off balance and smaller matchups overwhelmed by his size whether he’s operating in the post, from the elbow, or outside. On the defensive, Mantis has the strength, skill, and power to neutralize whichever Saleh/Ernest/Jaws sized opponents that haven’t already been demolished by Neon, the size and footwork to smother attacks from the smaller Shuttlesworths and Jenkos and Ducks and Ong Baks, and the speed to close out on and swat or disrupt every Shep and Katnis Everdeens daring to spot up from outside. Mantis rounds out our already elite squad of two-way talent, elevating our ceiling while solidifying our foundation, and is the ideal final pick for our team.
Pick 22: Chris Dodson
My final pick is Rocky Balboa. Most kids get into their first fight at the basketball court, especially in Philadelphia. Rocky knows how to hit a stubby white guys sky hook just as well as a short left for a knock out punch. Mess with my Fine Four who is finessing the team to a easy win, and you’ll have to deal with the People’s Champ who happens to have held the World Heavy Weight Belt on several occasions. He also helped bring down the Berlin Wall, just adding the final punch to my political angle with this team. No team will want be able to overcome the fear to beat my team.
Pick 23: Steven Strong
Okay with my final pick in the draft I pick Happy Gilmore played by Adam Sandler. An ex-hockey player turned golfer, Happy will bring an edge to my team that it desperately needs. Another with an unreal pain tolerance and an unmatched skill of shit talk that Pat Bev wishes he could achieve, Happy will bring the toughness that isn’t expected from him and will push everyone else to increase their rage/on-court production. An excellent passer with underrated strength and versatility, Happy is the missing piece of my now complete team.
Pick 24: Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
With my final pick in the draft I will be selecting Hector from the movie Troy. I believe Achilles was half-god so he’s out, but Hector was human. But despite being a mere mortal, Hector was a bonafide beast. He’s going to be my team’s lockdown defender. I think of him as our peak Iggy or like 2016 Kawhi. He can switch 1-4, body up, looks great in a sleeveless. And if he had the courage to go 1-v-1 against a real god, basketball gods ain’t no thang.
Cody: I do think that in the movie, Achilles was human? I can’t remember. Also, I’m an unabashed fan of that movie.
Sasha: Oh okay, dope! I’m taking Achilles then. Chirrut Îmwe didn’t get through, but now I’m back. Gifted athlete and tactician. Better hair than Gordon Hayward.
Cody: Right, my memory is that this was a “down to earth” version that was supposed to inspire the myths. Like how he’s shot several times, but the only arrow that sticks is the one in the heel.
Nate: Big ups to doc for not picking a single person who has ever touched a basketball and still having a pretty baller squad.
Sasha: Cheers brother!
Pick 25: Cody Tannen-Barrup
I’m doubling down on my guards with my final pick. I will be playing true positionless basketball. My rebounding will come from athleticism and I’d like to see any of the bigs on other teams chase this team around. With my final pick, I am selecting Kenny Tyler, guard, from the University of Washington Huskies. The movie is The Sixth Man and Kenny is played by Marlon Wayans. He ends up being the best player on a title winning team. Early in the movie it is stated that he has 11 assists and 8 rebounds in a game against Arizona. In another game, he has 16 assists. Sure his brother, Antoine is the scorer until he dies and comes back as a ghost and secretly helps the team win. We’ve all been there. I’m looking at Kenny’s game in the championship against a Umass team that had 3 NBA prospects, according to the announcers. Kenny dominates in the second half, probably putting up something like a 30/13/8 with 5 steals. He dominates bigger players on both ends of the court. They won the Pac 10 and remember those teams had some studs. UCLA had Charles O’Bannon; Stanford had Brevin Knight and Mark Madsen; Cal had Tony Gonzalez and Sean Marks; Arizona had Mike Bibby and Jason Terry. He’s the best player on the best team. He’s got heart to go with his talent. I have some other stats about that movie that are unrelated. The guy who plays O’Grady started at Kentucky. The guy who played Zigi has acted with two Wayans brothers in two different basketball movies.
If you stuck with us, congratulations! You earned my undying devotion. Probably should have made this a three on three tournament. Just to reiterate, these guys are nuts to think my team is last. As always, have a great day.