In February for Black History Month, USA TODAY Sports is publishing the series “28 Black Stories in 28 Days.” We examine the issues, challenges and opportunities Black athletes and sports officials continue to face after the nation’s reckoning on race following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. This is the third installment of the series.
One of the best sports movies of all time is ‘White Men Can’t Jump.’ It was made in 1992 and was deliciously sarcastic, funny, and a smart commentary about race and stereotypes. It’s a truly unique movie which is why a remake of it is such a dumb idea.
Really dumb. One of the stupidest ideas Hollywood ever had (and that’s saying something).
Yes, I’m saying all of this before the remake comes out in May, because I feel so strongly about this. If I’m wrong, I’ll come back and say I was wrong and I’m the real idiot.
But I won’t be wrong. Here’s why.
Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes were magical
In the original, two basketball scammers, played by Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, combine scam forces, and what follows is some of the best acting performances in sports movie history.
Their chemistry is remarkable. The way they play off of each other is wonderful to watch. Throw in the talents of Rosie Perez and you have a great movie.
No offense to the stars of the remake but there is no way they can reach those heights.
We know white men can jump
Well, we knew it then, but we definitely know it now.
One of the reasons Harrelson’s character can be part of the scam is the belief by Black basketball players in the movie that white men can’t play the sport. You had to of course suspend disbelief because there was a player named Larry Bird. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
But now? The NBA is still mostly Black but white stars are a normal thing. Dallas’ Luca Doncic is one of the most talented in the league and the influx of European players in the three decades since the original movie has changed the complexion of the league and how white players are perceived.
Hoops scams wouldn’t work today
One of the advantages that Harrelson’s character had in scamming was that there was no TikTok, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. He could move from city to city scamming and no one could really pick up his trail.
Scamming now? All of it would be recorded by this invention called a cellphone. There’d be TikTok videos for days about a pair of hoops tricksters. It would be impossible to do it.
Just leave some things alone … sheesh
Seriously, does everything have to be remade? Can we just let some movies be? Just stay as classics?
Is there something wrong with that?
I know what some of you will say. You’re just an old man, yelling at clouds. Relax, Mike, it’s not the end of the world.
No, it’s not, but it’s OK to leave some movies and ideas as just great movies and ideas. There’s no need to try and improve on them.
Especially, as in this case, when you’re guaranteed to fail.