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Breaking Down “Just Wright” on the Sports Movie Believability Scale

Posted by Nathan S. on 05/07/10 | Filed under Movies, Common
Just Wright Movie Poster
Being a guy, and an avid NBA fan, I watched the recent screening of "Just Wright" with two minds. The first mind was judging the movie as a whole, and it was that mind that wrote the official "Just Wright" review, which I decided to leave relatively barren of sports specificity because not everyone (ok, almost no one) wants to read a movie review that contains 500 words on the ball screens set for Common. But for those other select few, I thought we'd take a separate post to break down the flick on the Sports Believability Scale, which ranges on one end of the spectrum from the completely and totally unbelievable reverse dunk a 5-foot-8 Ed Norton throws down in "American History X" to the impressive realism of "Friday Night Lights".

Common: In "Just Wright" Common plays Scott McKnight - a name that immediately joins the Patrick O'Bryant All-Star squad for black guys with Irish names - and I have to say does a passably good job. Of course the movie does utilize the time honored technique of cutting to a close-up of Common's hands during the most intricate ball-handling sequences (a.k.a. those aren't Common's hands), as well as zooming in on the rim whenever Common dunks (a.k.a. that's an 8-foot hoop), but Common can at the very least ball. In the movie he's a five time All-Star - the movie makers seemed to be going for Chris Paul - but in the movie his game comes across as more Mike Bibby-ish. Ultimately, I have to hand it to Common, the dude's at the very least a passable baller.

Common's Injury: Easily the biggest plot hole in the movie, especially considering it's the catalyst for most of the action. In the movie Common suffers a horrendous knee injury that doctor's say will likely end his career (of course he miraculously recovers). This horrible, career threatening injury? A torn PCL. Really? No one enjoys a torn PCL, but at this point it's a relatively common (no pun intended) injury that almost everyone heals from. Hell, Blake Griffin fractured his knee cap and he's expected to make a full recovery. The movie writers boxed themselves into a bit of a corner on this one. They needed an injury that was bad, but also one that he could conceivably heal from in time to come back for the playoffs in three months (a central plot device in the flick), so they predictably played up the seriousness of a PCL.

The Comeback Game: Speaking of which, the comeback game, which just so happens to be Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, has it's flaws, but most of those flaws are the result of the Nets coaching staff and front office, so let's move on...

The Nets: This movie takes place in a magical world where the Nets are exist in a perpetual state of the 2002-2003 season are are perennial title contenders. However, on second thought, perhaps the most believable part about "Just Wright" is how horrible the Nets coaching staff and front office are. First, the Nets have played without Common for three months and are apparently still good enough to make it to Game 7 of the conference finals without him, and yet despite the fact that no one knows if his knee will hold up and he hasn't played in months, they choose to start Common in Game 7. Horrible call.

What's more, the Nets coach decided to put Common on Wade, who predictably burns the hobbled Common over and over again with his quickness. Really Nets coaching staff? You don't think that maybe you should stick another defender on one of the Game's best pure scorers than your slow and out of shape point guard, whom I'm assuming you want to save his energy for the offensive end? Common wouldn't have had to hit that game winning three if they'd had a more solid defensive plan.

Dwight Howard: Now here's where they get it right. Dwight Howard appears over and over again in the movie (apparently the Magic and Nets are rivals) and not once in the movie does Howard post-up the undersized Nets center, opting instead to get his points off offensive rebounds. The realism was gripping.

Overall Score: If "American History X" is a 1, "Teen Wolf" is a 2, "Glory Road" is a 4 and "Friday Night Lights" is a 5, "Just Wright" a 3 on the Sports Movie Believability Scale. We've found our middle ground.

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