James Wiseman’s Favorite Basketball Movies Have Special Meaning


LAS VEGAS — The fourth episode of the second season of “The Office” is titled “The Fire.” This is, you guessed it, a fire that started inside the office, the one that Ryan Howard’s character started – as revealed after Dwight Schrute returned to the smoky building to impress his boss, Michael Scott.

Why is this important? Once everyone is safely outside, Jim Halpert begins a game of Desert Island, first with three books one would bring while stranded, then five DVDs. Well, movie DVDs. It’s an easy conversation starter with an impossible answer.

Most people cannot restrict their a favorite song, band or movie. But what about his favorite basketball movie? I posed this exact question to a handful of young Warriors in Las Vegas just before the start of summer league games and received a handful of responses.

If you go with “Hoosiers”, meh. You love the classics and were probably on your basketball coach’s good side for a dynamite chest pass. Choose “Uncut Gems” and you’re a certified psychopath. Great movie, too. Say “White Men Can’t Jump” without hesitation, and now we’re going somewhere.

Patrick Baldwin Jr., the Warriors’ first pick in the 2022 NBA draft, is a big fan of “Hustle,” the Adam Sandler-directed comedy-drama that hit Netflix two weeks before the draft. But he went with the quintessential childhood basketball movie that premiered nearly six years before he was born.

“To me, it has to be ‘Space Jam,'” Baldwin said in July during our Dubs Talk interview. “It’s a classic. I watched it as a kid, and I probably still watch it from time to time. It’s Space Jam, of course.”

And no, not anything with LeBron James last year.

It took a few moments of thought for the Warriors’ second-round pick Ryan Rollins to choose “Above The Rim” and “He Got Game.”

For my part, it didn’t take me long to get visually too excited for “He Got Game” to get some love.

Like Rollins, one of James Wiseman’s favorite basketball movies is also “Above The Rim.” His other favorite has yet to be mentioned, and it’s great for more than just a perfect soundtrack. There’s also a real meaning behind the 21-year-old’s picks.

“I would say ‘Above The Rim’ or ‘Love & Basketball’,” Wiseman said. “It just shows you the adversity that every athlete goes through. Literally. It’s relatable.

“Just going through it, going through college, going through everything, those two films show you a lot of what life as an athlete is like, so to speak.”

All the ups and downs of being an athlete, especially a basketball player, are on display in front of the audience throughout “Love & Basketball.” From 11 years to being pro, it’s all there – fighting for a scholarship, dealing with the pressure of having the spotlight on you, relationship and family drama, a devastating knee injury and yes, love.

Perhaps in the past year, Wiseman felt like Omar Epps’ character Quincy McCall more than once. Especially after McCall tore his ACL as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Warriors big man has made no secret of the dark days of his torn meniscus which turned into a longer knee injury than anyone could have expected. He was no longer the man flooded with flowers in clouds of fans.

As a high school freshman, Wiseman was already 6-foot-9 and many were clamoring for his NBA future. After his sophomore year, he joined Penny Hardaway’s Penny team for the Nike EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) summer circuit. This is where things started to get sticky for the center.

Over the summer, Wiseman transferred to Memphis East High School where Hardaway was named head coach. Then in November, Wiseman was deemed ineligible primarily for his prior connection to the former NBA star. Not even a month later, the decision was overturned and Wiseman began a dominant junior campaign under Hardaway that saw him become the consensus No. 1 rookie in the nation.

Although Hardaway left Memphis East before Wiseman’s senior year to be the head coach at the University of Memphis, Wiseman stayed and staged a historic final campaign in high school where he was named Gatorade National Player of the Year. . He then opted to team up with Hardaway again rather than play for coach John Calipari at Kentucky, where things started to go downhill and he found himself in hot waters for his Hardaway connection.

A shoulder injury kept Wiseman out for a handful of exhibition games in the Bahamas. An ankle injury then forced him to miss Memphis’ two pre-season games. In his regular season debut, Wiseman showed exactly why most pundits consider him the future No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, scoring 28 points with 11 rebounds and three blocks in just 22 minutes against State. from South Carolina.

Three days later, he was ruled ineligible again, and he was again tied to Hardaway – this time for doling out more than a few cents. Hardaway paid $11,500 to help Wiseman’s family move to Memphis in 2017 to follow him to Memphis East. Wiseman’s college career lasted just three games, and while questions surrounded him, the Warriors believed in his potential so much that they always took him with the No. 2 pick.

Like McCall, Wiseman was considered an infallible NBA star long before it became a reality. He’s seen a lot in the last five years, and a lot before that. From his college debut on Nov. 5, 2019 until today, Wiseman has played just 49 total games – three in college, 39 in his freshman year with the Warriors, three in the G League and four in the summer league. He heard the noise, can still call himself a champion, and has even turned to writing music and rapping both for fun and to improve his mental health.

“It’s very therapeutic just to write down my thoughts and emotions and feelings, and just to be vulnerable in my writing,” Wiseman said. “And not being afraid to express myself on paper. Just being able to do that and put it on paper relieved a lot of mental agony.

“Just different stuff like that, mental obstacles. Putting it down on paper made me feel so much better.”

RELATED: Wiseman Sitting Behind Loon a ‘Healthy Growing Situation’

Finally in perfect health, Wiseman is no longer the 7-footer hiding in the shadows. He can slowly regain center stage at his own pace. Her smile stretches as long as the Bay Bridge, even thinking about practice.

Adversity is not temporary, it comes in waves. Sometimes it pushes higher and higher before crashing down on you. Sometimes it runs all the way to the toes, never getting past that point. Wiseman doesn’t have years of NBA experience yet. He knows the category of adversity well, however, riding the highs and lows and navigating clear and murky waters.

This may now be his last power, pushing potential into production and, more importantly, into peace.

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