Was the fuss just a dream? That would explain a lot


Netflix’s Hustle is an inspiring, moving basketball story starring Adam Sandler, but there are too many signs that this story could really be a dream. Hustle receives positive reviews, with some noting that Hustle combines the best of Sandler’s serious and silly films. It’s also Sandler’s long-awaited return to a basketball movie after the success of 2019’s “Uncut Jewels.”

Adam Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman, a Philadelphia 76ers scout who gets a long-awaited promotion to assistant coach. Much to his chagrin, he is quickly demoted to scout and given a difficult task: if Stanley wants to coach again, he needs to find a direct assistant whom the Sixers will be able to select in the upcoming draft. Stanley reluctantly travels to Spain to see a potential client, but is told he won’t play. Luckily for Stanley, he stumbles upon a basketball game and witnesses a construction worker named Bo Cruz dominating the competition during a furious fight. Bo is portrayed by current NBA player Juancho Hernangomes, who is just one of many NBA players in Adam Sandler’s Hustle.

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Bo’s journey to the NBA is filled with all sorts of memorable scenes. However, there are a number of moments, from the unintentionally hilarious to the completely inexplicable, that show that Hustle can be a fantastic dream. Part of this is a consequence of the merger of the real NBA with the fictional NBA; there are major logistical problems. Other red flags are a little more confusing, like the story of what brought Stanley and Teresa (Queen Latifah) together. Put it all together, and the only explanation for their incredible collective existence is that it’s all a Stanley Sugerman dream.

Oddly enough, many current and past NBA players portray themselves, but some portray fictional characters. Potential lottery pick #2 and quasi-antagonist Kermit Wilts, for example, is not a real NBA player, but he is portrayed by Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. If Edwards exists in the Hustle universe, it means that there are two players who look, sound and play exactly like each other. There have been ominous situations in sports before, but nothing even close to the potential coexistence of Kermit and Edwards. Kenny Smith is another curiosity. He’s impersonating an agent in Hustle, but he’s actually the co-host of the NBA on TNT. The show clearly exists in the Hustle universe, but it literally wouldn’t be the same without Kenny’s presence. There are too many moments of cognitive dissonance associated with the NBA.

Stanley Sugerman and Beau Cruz are also not immune to skepticism. Leaving aside the theory that Adam Sandler may be Hustle’s secret villain, Stanley and Bo have yet to give a serious explanation. When Bo “Boa” Cruz finds himself in the Boston Celtics lineup at the end of Hustle, he is shown at number 22. However, the Celtics removed that number, meaning that Bo somehow got a franchise infamous for being proud of its history to cancel the number for a mere rookie. In Stanley’s case, he shared a three-hour bus ride with Teresa as a college student-athlete. He didn’t say a word to her until the end, when he shouted: “One day I will marry you, and we will have very athletic children!” Bo in No. 22 and Stanley, a teenager, somehow seduce a girl to become his wife with this ridiculous pickup line – exactly such outlandish results can only happen in meaningless dreams.

Hustle solves one big basketball problem, but it can’t completely solve the problem of merging reality with fiction in a sports movie. Fortunately, there is enough of Sandler’s trademark stupidity in this Adam Sandler film to provide viewers with a convincing theory of dreams. Some red flags may be justified as creative freedoms, but the sum total of Hustle’s incredible and inexplicable story indicates that she may well be one of Stanley Sugerman’s sweetest dreams.