The hits just keep on coming for Boban Marjanovic.
Over the past year the Dallas Mavericks’ 7-3 center appeared in various popular commercials peddling Goldfish and State Farm Insurance. Last Wednesday, a movie named Hustle, produced by LeBron James, was released on Netflix and features Marjanovic and over two dozen current and former NBA players.
The list includes Luka Doncic, Dirk Nowitzki, Trae Young, Khris Middleton, Julius ‘Dr. J” Erving, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Juancho Hernangomez, Seth Curry, Tyrese Maxey, Anthony Edwards, Jordan Clarkson, Aaron Gordon, Kyle Lowry, Kenny Smith, Moe Wagner, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Mark Jackson, Jose Calderon, Maurice Cheeks and Aaron McKie, Also in the movie are Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers, Mavs assistant coach Greg St. Jean, Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, the WNBA’s Candace Parker, agent Bill Duffy, NBA super fan Jimmy Goldstein and former Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright.
The movie stars Adam Sandler, who is a struggling NBA scout trying to get Hernangomez’s character a spot in the NBA. During a trip to Spain, Sandler saw Hernangomez – while wearing boots and khaki shorts – completely destroying everyone in sight in a game of street basketball.
Other actors and actresses in the movie include Queen Latifah, Robert Duvall, Jaleel White, Ben Foster, Maria Botto and Heidi Gardner.
The movie opens with Sandler walking in a gym and watching Marjanovic blocking shots and dribbling behind his back coast-to-coast and dunking a basketball and saying he wants to be in the NBA. Shortly thereafter, Sandler asked Marjanovic: “I do have to ask something, because in my files you’re 22 years old. This is accurate? You’re 22 years old?
Marjanovic: “Yes. I’m 22 years old.”
Sandler: “You understand my English, because you can’t be in the draft if you’re over 22 years old if you’re from overseas. Do you have a birth certificate?”
Marjanovic: “It was big fire.”
At that moment, a very tall teenage-looking kid walks up. Sandler asks: “Who’s this?’
Marjanovic: “That’s my son.”
Sandler: “That’s your son? How old is he?
Marjanovic: “He’s 10 years old.”
From there, the movie goes on a long journey of Sandler giving some extraordinary training and sage advice to Hernangomez, who currently plays for the Utah Jazz. Cameos from various current and former NBA players are sprinkled throughout the movie, including Doncic telling folks on his Instagram that Hernangomez’s character is the real deal as a basketball player
“They show how it’s tough to come to the NBA, but there’s one moment where it’s easy if you work hard and you meet great people who can help make it happen. And it’s a movie all about playing basketball, how it can change your life.”
Putting all the pieces to the movie together, Marjanovic said, had its challenges because of the pandemic.
“The back story is we started when it was COVID (in 2020),” he said. “Everybody needed to be tested, it was less people on the set.
“The basketball time is so short that they had to figure out how we were going to make the whole movie with all the basketball players. It was so fun.”
Marjanovic, who has appeared in a few other movies including John Wick, Chapter 3 – Parabellum, had high praise for Sandler, who carried the movie with his business acumen and attention to detail.
“The movie is so amazing working with Adam Sandler,” Marjanovic said. “He’s one of the finest and coolest guys you’ll ever know. He had nice words to say.”
Marjanovic, who turns 34 on Aug. 15, said it was interesting playing the role of a 22-year old.
“Let me change that birth certificate. It expired.”
Once Marjanovic’s friends and family members saw him in the movie’s opening scene, he said his cell phone kept buzzing.
“That scene was so amazing,” Marjanovic said. “Everybody loved it. I got a lot of text messages.
“It was so amazing to see myself be there. For me it’s fun, because I really said that.”
So, has the movie bug bitten Marjanovic?
“(Sandler) showed me this is what I want to be in the future,” he said. “He gave me some advice. Working with him and working with all those basketball players there and being in that movie was amazing.
“I think everybody needs to see it and enjoy it. It was so fun meeting all these people. I was really blessed that I could be there to meet the people. The movie opportunity, I saw my second future there.”