Is Hustle’s Leon Rich Based on a Real NBA Agent? Who Plays Leon Rich? – Hustle, starring Adam Sandler, will premiere on Netflix on June 8, and many fans have been eagerly anticipating its arrival. Netflix customers will soon be able to see the sports drama film, which was released in theatres on June 3rd.
Jeremiah Zagar directs Hustle, a Netflix original film based on a screenplay co-written by Taylor Materne and Will Fetters. The plot follows Stanley Sugarman, a retired basketball scout who tries to resurrect his career after uncovering a gifted street basketball player in Spain. Stanley, desperate to return to the NBA, brings the player to the United States against his team’s wishes.
In addition to Sandler, the film features Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, Juancho Hernández, Robert Duvall, Jordan Hull, Mara Botto, Kenny Smith, Jaleel White, and many others.
In sports movies, we usually see the sportsman, or player, working hard to achieve all of the glory and fame that come with his sport. ‘Hustle,’ on the other hand, goes a step further by making a talent scout the main character.
We follow Adam Sandler’s Stan Sugerman, who, despite not being able to play himself, has committed himself to the world of basketball. Leon Rich is seen throughout the film standing by Stan and assisting him at key moments. Stan’s story revolves around Leon’s friendship. Despite the high stakes they must face, their stories are so realistic and grounded that it feels as if they are based on real people.
We’ve got you covered if you’re wondering if Leon Rich is based on a real person or not. Keep reading below to get answer.
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Is Leon Rich a Real-Life NBA Agent?
Leon Rich is NOT a real-life basketball agent, believe it or not. However, while the character does not closely resemble any real person, his name combines two of basketball’s most significant people. Leon Rose, the president of the New York Knicks, inspired the first name “Leon.” Rose has represented LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, and Richard Hamilton, among others, as an agent. He also served as a mentor to Rich Paul, whose first name is the same as the character’s surname in ‘Hustle.’
Rich Paul came from low roots and had to start from the ground up. An unexpected encounter with LeBron James altered the path of his career, as he ended up working for Leon Rose. After a few years, Paul decided to leave his job and start his own company, Klutch Sports Group. When he chose to walk off on his own, James decided to accompany him. Paul now has a fantastic team that includes Anthony Davis and Ben Simmons, to name a few.
Before the Hustle premiere! 3 Kings during #harvestseason pic.twitter.com/plXqCZeIAr
— Kenny Smith (@TheJetOnTNT) June 4, 2022
Who Played Leon Rich in ‘Hustle’ Movie?
While Leon Rich is not a professional basketball player, the actor who portrays him is. Leon, Adam Sandler’s best friend, is played by Kenneth Smith. Leon eventually joins the Timberwolves in the movie. Smith had an illustrious career in real life as well. He was a basketball player for the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks, among other teams. He won a lot of NBA championships with the Houston Rockets. Since his departure from the sport, he has worked as a sports pundit for ‘Inside the NBA’.
Smith had previously been in a few cameos, so when Adam Sandler gave him a part in ‘Hustle,’ he assumed it would be a minor part. It wasn’t until later that he learned his character was named after someone other than himself, and he had thirty pages of lines. His part requires a mix of Leon Rose and Rich Paul, which he noted. He needed “Rich Paul’s swag” as well as “Leon Rose’s clientele.”
He also enjoyed how the script concentrated on the nitty-gritty of what scouts and agents have to deal with, which is something that is rarely handled in sports dramas. He was first anxious about the acting, which he had never done seriously before. But he knew that the role of the best friend was crucial to the film’s success, so he wanted to give it his all. We think he did an excellent job.
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