What can you say about He Got Game? Another classic Spike Lee joint, a tale of the persistent status quo involving high school and collegiate athletes who are projected as “the next big thing.” Jesus Shuttlesworth, played by a chiseled/young Ray Allen, is a Coney Island Lincoln High School basketball phenom whose strained relationship with his father, played by Denzel Washington, forces him into raising his younger sister while still trying to maintain some level of order in the wake of big decisions. Everyone’s focused on what his next move will be and are mostly concerned with their own stake in the whole process.
The film is set to a fitting soundtrack by Public Enemy–included the iconic title track–and does well to portray Coney Island and the prevailing culture/style of 1998 in New York City: baggy jeans, shorts, long T-shirts all the way! From the Nike Foamposite park bench conversations between father and son to Denzel slaying it in a fresh pair of the new Air Jordan XIII, you’ll find not one dull sneaker moment in the film. (That makes sense, knowing Spike Lee’s history.)
As Ray Allen is hitting the new 30 today (40 years old), we’re paying homage by listing all the epic sneaker moments in the movie He Got Game, along with a little subplot of the corresponding scene. Watching a young Allen cut up, lean back, and J defenders or seeing Denzel play an old playground basketball legend/father/motivator never gets old. Here’s a bit of cultural teaching and lesson-giving from one of the greatest basketball films ever made. This is Sneaker Theater.