At one point or another, it seems as if every NBA player has been asked about which fellow athletes would make up their personal favorite starting five. Feelings have been hurt, controversy has been created out of nothing, and the answers have been discussed and dissected over every platform possible.
While people routinely debate these fantasy match-ups, the following question persisted: Which fictional basketball players would make up the all-time fictional starting five?
Those rules for such an activity are as followed:
Rule #1: No one portraying a real-life basketball player is allowed. This defeats the purpose of the discussion. This includes basketball players playing themselves in movies. Sorry, Michael Jordan. Your half-court stretch dunk to save The Looney Tunes lives in Space Jam was impressive, but this is the only all-time basketball list you won’t be making.
Rule #2: No more than two players can be chosen from any one movie. In my research, I’ve found that some of these movies are stacked with fictional talent. In order to keep things fun and make it more of a challenge, I had to limit myself a bit.
Rule #3: No animals allowed. There is no way any dog could ever compete in an actual game of basketball. Let alone play lockdown defense and actually score a basket. This is the Air Bud rule.
Rule #4: Anthropomorphic animals, on the other hand, are totally fair game. This is the Looney Tunes rule. Or, the Teen Wolf rule. Take your pick.
Rule #5: Acting ability matters. We are talking about fictional basketball players after all. Not taking acting skills into consideration would be a disservice to the process. Along with those rules, I figured the best way to put together this lineup would be by following the NBA All-Star game style of 2 backcourt players and 3 frontcourt players. Keeping things position-less allows for a little more freedom in player selection.
There are so many fictional ballers to choose from. As a result, I will be pitting two against each other for each slot, and cutting them down until we are left with the greatest all-time five in fictional basketball history.
Let’s get started:
Backcourt #1: Billy Hoyle (White Men Can’t Jump) vs. Calvin Cambridge (Like Mike)
Old School vs. New School has never been represented more accurately than in this matchup. Billy Hoyle — the former college basketball star turned street ball hustler — squares off against a precocious 13-year-old orphan with magical shoes in Calvin Cambridge.
Based on straight basketball play, it would seem like Calvin is the choice. He was averaging 25 points per game in the NBA and leading his team to their first playoff appearance as a 13-YEAR OLD ORPHAN. But, the kid was stealing his ability from an electrified pair of shoes that used to belong to kid Michael Jordan (and somehow ended up being donated to an orphanage in Los Angeles?). As soon as those shoes fell apart, he was back to being a child with no business in the NBA or this conversation.
Hoyle is the easy choice here. There’s no real weakness to his game (other than not being able to jump very high). He may have a slight gambling problem, but that’s only because he believes in his ability so much. Hoyle can dish out assists from any spot on the court. With his silky jumper, you’ll never be out of a game. He’s the team’s version of Gary Payton — running his mouth obnoxiously as a means to get in his opponents’ heads.
Backcourt #2: Quincy “Q” McCall (Love & Basketball) vs. Jesus Shuttlesworth (He Got Game)
If you’ve ever seen Love & Basketball, then you know that Quincy McCall is the real deal. Handles like Iverson, jumper like Curry, and a personality like Kobe. He’s a definite star on the basketball court, but he’s got nothing on Shuttlesworth.
First off, his name is Jesus… so he’s got plenty to live up to. Jesus Shuttlesworth is so incredible at basketball, that the Governor of New York releases Jesus’s father from prison — in an attempt to have him persuade his son to sign with Big State University (which also happens to be the governor’s alma mater).
This is Jesus’s spot. Besides, Quincy might not even be better than his WNBA star wife Monica Wright.
Frontcourt #1: Sidney Deane (White Men Can’t Jump) vs. Clarence Withers (Semi-Pro)
Dynamic duos in basketball are often linked to greatness. You’ve got Kobe and Shaq, Jordan and Pippen… and Sidney and Billy.
Sidney fits the mold of a Metta World Peace or Draymond Green. He exhibits tough defense and timely shooting with a ferocious and intense attitude. He isn’t quite the natural talent that Clarence is on the basketball court — who is the bonafide star of his team.
Clarence isn’t exactly the greatest team player — considering he probably has more nicknames (Coffee Black/Downtown “Funky Stuff” Malone/Sugar Dunkerton/“Jumping” Johnny Johnson) than he does assists in the movie. Withers does innovate the game by completing the first alley-oop in basketball history — which does make it hard to keep Coffee Black’s game changing talent off this squad.
However, there is just no way that I can break up the chemistry of Sidney and Billy. As a result, the motor-mouthed, insult slinging, self-proclaimed greatest Sidney Deane is on the team.
Frontcourt #2: Shep (Above the Rim) vs. Jimmy Chitwood (Hoosiers)
To put it simply, Jimmy Chitwood was born to shoot a basketball. Chitwood was shown only missing four shots throughout all of Hoosiers. He scored 32 of the team’s 42 points in the championship game. It’s one of the most impressive on-court performances in any basketball film.
There’s actually only one that tops it, and that would be Shep’s performance in the final game of Above the Rim. If Jimmy was born to shoot a basketball, then Shep is born to function as a basketball-playing robot.
Shep drops 38 points by going 14-of-14, including 10-for-10 on three-point attempts. The great in-game performance makes Shep the easiest choice of all for this team.
Frontcourt #3: Saleh (The Air Up There) vs. Neon Boudeaux (Blue Chips)
Neon Boudeaux is a giant, powerful, athletic freak. He’s literally unstoppable the whole movie. The character played by Shaquille O’Neal is the classic low-post center.
Saleh — a big man from a small village in Africa — is pretty much the movie version of the Greek Freak (also known as Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo). Saleh is more agile than he has any business being. He can shoot, and also dunk from anywhere on the court. Essentially, Saleh is built out of Go-Go- Gadget limbs.
Saleh is the quintessential international stretch big man with untapped potential. With that said, I can’t pass up on the guy that basically dunks everything and doesn’t miss a shot. I’m breaking rule #5 and taking Neon to hold down the post.
Sixth Man: Scott Howard (Teen Wolf) vs. Lola Bunny (Space Jam)
The sixth man (or woman) is an important piece to any squad.
Besides MJ, Lola Bunny is the best basketball player in Space Jam. Standing only 3’2’’ you wouldn’t think much of her. However, she’ll cross you up like Kyrie and with what I can only guess is about a 60’’ vertical. Oh, and definitely don’t call her, “doll.”
Scott Howard is the perfect sixth man. He’s not much of a player when he’s regular Scott, but when he becomes “wolf” Scott, he is an offensive scoring machine. Don’t expect much passing or team play out of him though. Luckily, as a sixth man, scoring and energy is really all we need. Just give Scott the ball and he will give the squad buckets like Lou Williams. He’s a literal monster on the court, and the ideal complement to our starting lineup.
There we have it. The definitive all-time fictional basketball line-up is Billy Hoyle, Jesus Shuttlesworth, Sidney Deane, Shep, and Neon Boudeaux — with Scott Howard coming off the bench.