character guide

A Guide to All the NBA Cameos in Adam Sandler’s Hustle

Juancho Hernangómez and Adam Sandler in Hustle. Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix

Forget the NBA Finals. The place you’ll find the biggest collection of NBA talent right now is Netflix’s Hustle.

After a career-defining performance in Uncut Gems, Adam Sandler returns to the world of professional basketball as Stanley Sugarman, a Philadelphia 76ers scout who makes a game-changing find in the form of raw young big man Bo Cruz. Determined to finally get off the road for good, Stanley sees the Spaniard as his ticket to a promotion to assistant coach.

If Bo looks legit, it’s because he is. The role marks the acting debut of Utah Jazz forward Juancho Hernangómez, a 2016 first-round draft pick. But the towering presence of Hernangómez is just the beginning of Hustle’s decorated team, with lots of the NBA’s brightest stars past and present taking part in the film. While many of the appearances are so quick and random they would fly past the untrained NBA fan’s eye, others are pivotal to the story. And yet, conspicuously not seen is Hustle producer LeBron James, who must have been too busy teaming up with Tweety.

With Hustle now available on Netflix, we hustled up your guide to the basketball drama’s roster.

Juancho Hernangómez as Bo Cruz in Hustle. Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix

Utah Jazz forward Juancho Hernangómez as Bo Cruz

A bench player for the Jazz, Hernangómez is second on the Hustle call sheet behind Sandler. After flashing potential early in his career with the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves, the 26-year-old has struggled to find a home, having been traded four times in the past year. But the rookie actor brings a quiet vulnerability to Bo that he can only hope will earn him one of those valuable recurring spots in the Sandler Extended Universe.

Juancho Hernangómez, left, and Anthony Edwards, right, in Hustle. Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards as Kermit Wilts
Hustle’s two primary antagonists are played by an unlikely pair. Hell or High Water standout Ben Foster, known for his intense dramatic work, stars as the obnoxious 76ers owner who just inherited the team from his late father, while former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards takes on the role of Kermit Wilts, a projected top-three selection who continuously makes it his mission to get inside Bo’s head. Just two years into his professional career, Edwards has developed a reputation as one of the league’s most promising and charismatic stars. The University of Georgia should be proud of its celebrated alum — but confused at why the school selected for Kermit had to be conference rival Kentucky.

Kenny Smith in Hustle. Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix

Inside the NBA commentator and two-time NBA champion Kenny Smith as Leon Rich
Smith won two championships in the mid-’90s as a key member of the Houston Rockets, but he’s most famous for his work alongside Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley on TNT’s beloved Emmy-winning studio show Inside the NBA. The strangest part about casting Smith as Leon, Stanley’s college teammate turned sports agent, is that the Inside the NBA crew — minus Smith — appears in a clip montage about Bo’s incredible potential. Regardless, Smith still has a way to go to match O’Neal’s long Sandler résumé.

Dallas Mavericks center Boban Marjanović as Dimitri Jovanovic, a.k.a. “Big Serbian”
The 33-year-old, seven-foot-three Serbian is actually the first face seen in Hustle. Aware that you can’t be in the NBA Draft if you’re over 22 years old, this grizzled prospect — listed as Big Serbian in the mid-credits montage — attempts to pass himself off as age-eligible despite having a teenager of his own. He returns later, somehow having conned his way into a star-studded pickup game. Non–NBA watchers may recognize Marjanović from John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, in which his hit-man character, Ernest, is memorably killed in a showdown with Wick (Keanu Reeves) at the New York Public Library.

Orlando Magic forward Moritz Wagner as Haas
Hyped as “the German MJ,” the highly touted foreigner that Stanley speaks out against drafting indeed proves to be a bust, but the actor behind Haas has plenty of game. After starring at the University of Michigan, Wagner was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. Like Hernangómez, Wagner has recently bounced around and is already on his fourth team, but on the Orlando Magic, he has been paired with his talented younger brother, Franz, a fellow Michigan alum and first-round pick.

Tobias Harris, left, and Juancho Hernangómez, right, in Hustle. Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey and forwards Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle
When Stanley is briefly promoted the first time, he’s working hard to coach up Haas, who is struggling in defensive drills opposite his new 76ers teammates Maxey, Harris, and Thybulle. While all three return for the film’s final scene, Thybulle is present to watch Bo’s first pickup game in Philly, and Harris is a participant in the “Boa Challenge,” squaring off one-on-one against Bo in front of a raucous crowd.

Basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving
The Hustle cast includes not just current 76ers but arguably the best Sixer of all time. Considered one of the game’s greatest dunkers, Dr. J won a championship and an MVP in Philadelphia, where his number was retired. Stanley shows his daughter a real video of Dr. J dunking at 63 years old, which inspires the “Boa Challenge,” and the icon himself goes to a local Philly court to introduce Bo and the future social-media craze.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, former Philadelphia 76ers president and minority owner Pat Croce, former 76ers star and coach Maurice Cheeks, former 76ers player Aaron McKie, former 76ers general manager Billy King, and Fat Joe 
The funeral for late 76ers owner and Stanley’s mentor Rex Merrick (Robert Duvall) brings out 76ers royalty, from members of the 1983 title team, like Dr. J and Cheeks, to key members of its 2001 Finals run, like Croce and McKie. Oh, and for some reason, rapper Fat Joe is there too.

Former NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki
After stalking Bo back to his home, Stanley attempts to prove he’s not just some random weirdo by using FaceTime to call the greatest European player in NBA history. Nowitzki, a champion and an MVP for the Dallas Mavericks, initially pretends not to know Stanley before the German legend uses that same L-word to describe “Stan the Man.”

Spanish national-team alums Willy Hernangómez, Jose Calderón, Pierre Oriola, Alex Abrines, and Felipe Reyes
Looking to get Bo some real competition, Stanley starts by setting him up with some of Spain’s best, including Calderón, a 14-year NBA veteran, and Juancho’s real-life big brother, Willy, a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Kyle Lowry, second from left, along with (from right to left) Kenny Smith, Ben Foster, and Jaleel White in Hustle. Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix

Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry and two-time NCAA champion coach Jay Wright
The inclusion of Philadelphia basketball icons continues at Bo’s first pickup game in the U.S. Among those taking in the action are Philly native Lowry, who starred locally at Villanova and won an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors, and Lowry’s college coach, Jay Wright, who recently retired after winning national championships at Villanova in 2016 and 2018.

Grayson “the Professor” Boucher
Many renowned streetballers make Hustle appearances, but the most prominent is Boucher, who rose to fame over a decade ago on the AND1 Mixtape Tour. With 4 million followers on Instagram, the Professor is still using his nasty handles to break ankles, which is why he was a natural pick for Bo’s dribbling tutor.

Brooklyn Nets guard Seth Curry
Cheering on Tobias Harris during his participation in the viral “Boa Challenge” is the other sharpshooter in the Curry family: Seth Curry, younger brother of Stephen, was a 76ers teammate of Harris when filming took place, only to be traded to the Nets back in February.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić and former NBA MVP Allen Iverson
You know how you can tell the “Boa Challenge” is blowing up? Because it’s praised in social-media video posts from Dončić, a 23-year-old Slovenian who is already on his way to becoming the preeminent foreign player in league history, and Iverson, a 76ers icon who is considered one of the NBA’s all-time-best scorers.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton
For years, Middleton was considered one of the most underrated ballers, but he’s had a hell of a past year, winning an NBA championship, a gold medal, and two lines in Hustle. He pops up at the NBA Combine, first giving an interview alongside Kermit, then he compliments Stanley on Bo’s speed.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, and Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon
This dynamic trio can be seen making highlight plays in the final pickup game. At just 23, Young is a two-time All-Star, while Clarkson — a rumored ex of Kendall Jenner — won Sixth Man of the Year in 2021 and Gordon gained prominence through his legendary efforts in multiple NBA Slam Dunk Contests.

Mark Jackson, far right, in Hustle. Photo: Cassy Athena/Netflix

No. 1 NBA superfan James Goldstein, ESPN analyst and former NBA coach and player Mark Jackson, and Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens
The personnel on the sidelines of that last pickup game are pretty distinguished in their own right. Among those watching are Goldstein, a successful businessman known for his flamboyant clothing and for sitting courtside at every major NBA event. You can also spot Boston Celtics head coach turned president Stevens and current ESPN analyst and former NBA player and coach Jackson.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, 76ers assistant coach Dave Joerger, and Utah Jazz assistant coach Dell Demps
Stanley and Bo both get a happy ending, with Stanley promoted to 76ers assistant coach and Bo drafted by the Celtics. But before the two face off on the court, Stanley is retrieved from his office by Rivers, the current coach of the 76ers, who made the All-Star Game as a player and won a championship with the Celtics as a coach. Joined by assistants Joerger and Demps, Rivers and Stanley walk through the tunnel of the Wells Fargo Center and onto the court for the latter’s big debut. The film ends with Stanley reunited with Tobias Harris, and he gives his new player advice on how to stop his old player. Game on.

A Guide to All the NBA Cameos in Adam Sandler’s Hustle