Basketball players (and cinema hopefuls) try their hand as extras for Adam Sandler’s new film


Should they come in? What are the chances? It’s not even a real race?

A pair of 24-year-old Bryan Daniel, of Newark, Del., And his high school friend Darren Moore leaned against the hood of Moore’s Honda on Saturday, deciding to join the long line of equipped basketball players at the other end of the parking lot outside the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington.

“I discovered it on social media,” Daniel said. “Once the new release, I thought there would be a lot of people here. “

It was not an essay in the true sense of the word. It was a casting for basketball players to appear as extras in an Adam Sandler Netflix film set this year around Philadelphia.

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“I expected to work for 45 minutes,” Daniel said. “Now they say they’re doing three on three for five minutes, and when they see the people they want, they stop.”

Judging by the line, the odds of being cast in the movie as an NBA player might not be that different than actually doing the NBA.

There was no bait and switch here. The casting call was specific. Person under 18 or over 33. If you are over 30, you had to “look under 30, otherwise you will not be cast.” Men only. Philly residents only. “For a FUNDAMENTAL, NON-SPEAKING role. The trials will be VERY short. Construction: LONG & LEAN or BIG & STRONG. Size: MUST BE 6′4 “+… Former D1 / D2 basketball players or overseas pros.”

“I can’t go in together. … We have to be six people apart, ”Daniel said of his friend, thinking they were only going to take one player at most per pickup game. His goal, he said, is to access the current NBA, not the Netflix version.

He had done his research on Google. … The movie is called Hustle. Queen Latifah is there too. LeBron James is one of the producers. Kyle Lowry is listed in the cast.

“He’s supposed to be a scout, helping a foreign player get into the NBA,” Daniel said of Sandler’s role.

Daniel said to his friend: “Do you want to come in? I am not worried about what I can do. It’s just that I know they’re looking for what they’re looking for.

A car has stopped. The couple had gone to college with Freddy, who had played college ball. He was going out.

“There are so many people in there that it doesn’t even seem like they’re interested,” Freddy told them. “Trying to mix so many people. It was my opinion. They separate you in court based on your experience. That’s how I interpreted it. I could be wrong. I had a few buckets but didn’t have the chance to play so much. But I was in the area. Something to do. Get a little exposure.

Dante Whipple, 25, of Old Bridge, NJ, just stepped out of the gym after his ‘tryout’, said he had about two minutes to warm up, play for five minutes, then go in front of a camera and say your name and height.

“They asked us not to go too hard and not make mistakes in defense,” said Whipple. “It was more our way of playing.”

Inside, a taller man was leaving the field of his little session, had changed his playing shoes.

Mike Fisher, the film’s basketball coordinator, approached him.

“This is what we are looking for,” said Fisher.

CJ Aiken, a former St. Joseph Hawks center, a pro in Hungary last season, had heard about that “random day” casting call from his wife’s aunt, who had seen something on Facebook.

“Couple of dunks, a few blocks, a few jumps, did my thing,” Aiken said of his quick lap on the court.

There’s a scene with street players, Fisher said, but for the majority of the movie they want NBA-like players.

His own experience includes working in a similar role with films ranging from the new Space Jam movie to Remember the Titans, Blind Side, Moneyball. He does a lot of Nike ads.

“We know Philadelphia is a crazy basketball community, as you can see today,” Fisher said. “We are trying to find this rare gem. For this movie, you’re trying to find guys who might be overseas, back in town.

Maybe Aiken can’t make it through the net until the move.

“I would say CJ has a good chance,” Fisher said. “6-[foot-]9, can play.

The casting sometimes continues until the day before a scene is filmed.

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“We never stop,” Fisher said. “It’s like we’re fishing. We are on this boat. Everyone may have pulled their line, but I’m leaving my line in the water until we get back to the dock.

Fisher was talking just outside the gym, the line of ball players still impressive in length. An Adam Sandler movie was always going to draw crowds. The success of Sandler’s latest, Uncut Gems, likely added to the appeal.

“We kind of have a foolproof system,” Fisher said of the casting session. “There is nothing lying around. “

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He looked at the queue of hopes. He wants them all to feel like they’ve had a good chance.

“I see that kid in the red T-shirt over there with his head down,” Fisher said, scanning the line to see if anyone else was looking at the room. “He could …”

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