It is difficult to believe, but it has been almost 20 years since the premier of one of the most memorable sports movies of the 90s, Blue Chips. Being a huge college basketball fan in 1994, there was no movie I wanted to see more. Just watch the trailer! Shaq, Penny, Matt Nover, and every other college basketball star from 1993 was in it. In my sports-crazed, adolescent brain, this movie was already Academy Award worthy. With that in mind, we at Bacon Sports wondered what it would be like if the movie were cast in 2013. What current players could be cast that most resembled the original? Is there someone goofy enough to fill the size 23 Reebok Shaq Attaq shoes of Neon Boudeaux? What kooky Hollywood actor could reprise the role of the great Nick Nolte as Coach Pete Bell? What cast members from the original would we have to bring back for cameos? After hours of thorough research, the final cuts have been made. Now, for the cast of Blue Chips 2.0.
Note: Only the main athletes were recast.
Coach Pete Bell – Nick Nolte
Of all characters that were re-cast this one was easiest to fill. We needed someone who could throw a water cooler, act maniacal at times, look good in a Western University Dolphins sweater, and punt a basketball into the stands. I don’t think there was anyone more qualified to play that role than Charlie Sheen. I have no doubt that, if Sheen were older, he could have played the coach in the original Blue Chips. Sheen is a solid actor, who actually is very knowledgeable about sports. Plus, he has the right amount of “over-the-top” crazy that Nick Nolte did so well throughout the movie. Who could forget these gems? Plus, look at this mug shot. Who can’t envision Charlie Sheen looking like this in 10 years?
In the 2013 version, a few changes to the story line would have to be made to accommodate Sheen’s character. These would, likely, involve Coach Bell doing blow during halftime, hooking up with college co-eds after practice, and drinking tiger blood. In a totally unrelated note, who came up with the school’s name? That was more generic than when Spike Lee used “Big State” in the movie He Got Game.
Shaquille O’Neal – Neon Boudeaux
In 1994, there weren’t too many athletes that had the same level of notoriety as Shaq. Other than Ken Griffey, Jr., there weren’t many athletes whose name held the same cache. Shaq had taken NBA by storm, which lead him to believe that he could infiltrate the music world, as well. Soon after he entered the league, he initiated a horrible trend whereby athletes released music for the masses starting with this.
This was followed by efforts from Deion Sanders who matched him with this equally awful song. In any case, atrocious music aside, Shaq was a force, not to mention in shape. For the 2013 version, we also needed to find a player whose name would carry similar cache. He would also have to be in great shape and be able to dunk with flair. That player would be Blake Griffin. To be honest, Griffin’s dunking ability alone should get him the role. If you happened to watch the Blue Chips trailer earlier in the article, perhaps you notice about instances of Shaq dunking. This movie would be no different. Likely, about 60% of all game footage would consist of Griffin doing tomahawk and East Bay Funk dunks. He has the style necessary for the game scenes, plus he appears to be very camera-friendly based upon all of his endorsement commercials for Kia. However, if he attempts to release any albums, he automatically will be disqualified from consideration for this role.
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway – Butch McRae
In the tradition of capitalizing on his increasing popularity in 1994, Blue Chips cast the Anfernee Hardaway for the role of Butch McCray. Penny was one of the most popular young players in the NBA. After his first few seasons in the league, it appeared he would be a top 10 player in the league for years to come. Who could forget his Nike commercials with Lil’ Penny and an attractive Tyra Banks? Unfortunately, injuries took a toll on his career and he never reached his full potential. Don’t feel too bad for him though. He did walk away with over $120 million after a 14 year career. Finding another Butch was not easy. I felt it was the most difficult role to fill; however after some internal debate, the best player to fill that role would be Derrick Rose. I went with Rose mainly due to the fact that he likely was involved in multiple recruiting violations when he went to Memphis. Allegedly, after failing to get a qualifying score on his ACT test in Chicago three times, another individual took the SAT for him in Detroit in order for him to obtain a qualifying score. Who drives 4 hours to take the SAT? In 2009, after a lengthy investigation, Memphis was required to vacate the 38 wins from their 2007-2008 Final Four season. I would imagine Rose could give some of the filmmakers tips about how to make the cheating look even more genuine.
Matt Nover – Ricky Roe
Of course the orginal movie had to have a token white guy and who better to fill that role than Matt Nover. He fit the bill, so to speak. Being from Chesterton, Indiana, he played for the Hoosiers from 1988-1992 and was the starting center on their 1992 Final Four team. A little undersized at 6’8”, he never had an NBA career, but managed to play professionally overseas for 12 seasons. Ironically, Nover defended the Diesel in Shaq’s final collegiate game in the 1992 NCAA tournament. That being said, I did not want a huge star playing the role of Ricky for the remake. There were a number of possibilities, but they had to be the right fit. I considered everyone from Brian Cardinal to Mike Dunleavy, but in the end I chose Tyler Hansbrough. He fit the bill very well. A solid collegiate player from rural Missouri, he would be just the type of player who would ask for $30,000 and a tractor in order to play for your team. In addition, Hansbrough’s mom, who is a fundraiser at UNC (interesting), was placed on administrative leave, and eventually resigned, during an investigation last year for taking trips with university funds to see her son play during the 2008-2009 season. With this type of pedigree this choice was a no-brainer.
On a side note, during my research for the article, I found a certain someone on LinkedIn. It is amazing what you can find on the internet these days.
Blue Chips Cameos
One of the most intriguing aspects of the movie was the fact that so many former and current college players and coaches had cameos throughout the movie. For example, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, Bob Cousy, Larry Bird, Nolan Richardson, Bob Knight, Jerry Tarkanian, Lou Campinelli, Dick Vitale, and George Raveling all had roles in the movie. Even more impressive was the list of players that played Western University’s opponents. It was, literally, a basketball who’s who from 1993. Players like, Rodney Rogers, Adonis Jordan, Thomas Hill, Allan Houston, and current Purdue coach Matt Painter formed The Coast Team. Calbert Chaney, Bobby Hurley, Greg Graham, Jamal Meeks, and Keith Smart played for Indiana. And Rick Fox, George Lynch, Chris Mills, and Rex Walters all played for Texas Western. Even Kevin Garnett and Jim Caviezel had uncredited roles as basketball players.
In the current version, many of the coaches listed above who are still coaching would be great candidates to have a role in re-make. Guys like Coach K, Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, Bill Self, Larry Eustachy, Bob Huggins, and, of course, John Calipari who could play a sketchy AAU coach, would all be great additions. To be honest, I actually thought about casting John Calipari as Coach Bell. I mean he could, likely, write the script for Blue Chips 2.0 better than anyone in Hollywood having lived it out in real life.
As far as current players to use in the movie, I would tend to stay away from the superstars like Lebron, Carmelo, Kobe, or Durant. I would love to see some second, third, and fourth tier players who had some college success. Anthony Davis, Eric Bledsoe, Jared Sullinger, Tyshawn Taylor, Damian Lillard, Nolan Smith, Jimmer Fredette, or basically anyone from the Charlotte Bobcats roster would work very well. With the exception of Jimmer, I would assume most of them would have plenty of experience playing roles that may involve participating in recruiting violations.
While the original movie was initially panned by critics, despite its high attention to detail during game scenes, it provided a window into the high stakes world of college basketball before the advent of the internet. Prior to 15 years ago, stories of possible recruiting violations were not as frequently reported. Many fans were oblivious to much of the underhanded activity that existed. A 2013 version would be interesting since it would incorporate new aspects to the story that were not around in 1994. Social media sites, AAU coaches, and texting would play a huge role in Blue Chips 2.0. Maybe one day Hollywood will come back around on the idea and recast the original, and even if the storyline and acting are as cheesy as in the first one, my love for college basketball would still make force me to see it.