You teared up as Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) and Bo Cruz (Utah Jazz power forward Juancho Hernangómez) enter the next phase of their NBA careers at the end of Hustle.
The screen fades to black.
Don’t cue up your next movie quite yet. Wait for them. The end credits are fi-yah. (And if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading here).
The experience starts with the music by Baltimore-based composer, Dan Deacon, picking up tempo. Sandler, who is sitting courtside at Sixers game, turns toward the camera in slow motion. And then, the real show begins: shot after shot of basketball perfection, featuring real NBA footages from the player/actors in the film.
“I know — it’s so cool right?” said Hustle’s Philly-born director, Jeremiah Zagar.
Hernangómez, decked out in Boston Celtics gear — he was on the Celtics’ team before The Jazz picked him up — goes in hard for a layup The cameras slow down as the ball tumbles out Hernangómez’s fingers into the basket.
The Sixers, who happened to appear as themselves in Hustle, shoot a flurry of baskets: Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, Seth Curry, Matisse Thybulle, Doc Rivers. Swoosh. Minnesota Timberwolf, Anthony Edwards, who is awesome in the film as Bo’s nemesis, Kermit, follows up in his shot with a dunk so fabulous, I almost forgot how nasty his character was to Bo in the movie.
It’s impossible to shout out all the NBA greatness that follows next in a montage, featuring archival clips of the sports’ G.O.A.T.S. defying gravity in their prime. Some of the footage is grainy, but it adds to the end credits’ excitement. Kenny Smith, who is really believable as sports agent Leon Rich — kicks it off. Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Mark Jackson and our very own Allen Iverson all soar through the air. Dunkety, dunk, dunk, dunk.
“We had some all of the most famous basketball players in the world,” Zagar said. “We wanted an ending that didn’t let people forget that.”
Hustle promises to be memorable because of its authenticity. Everyone who picks up a ball plays the game. The end credits are the proof. Just-retired Villanova basketball coach, Jay Wright; Dallas Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban and Jaleel White — who you know as Family Matters nerd, Steve Urkel — also have end credit cameos. Every one of them makes their basket. Every. Single. One.
“Basketball is a joyful explosion of excitement,” Zagar said. “This ending is that explosion of joy.”