Ray Allen, aka Jesus Shuttlesworth, recently said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida that he definitely plans on pursuing an acting career when he retires from the NBA.
The Miami Heat guard has accomplished the highest of achievements on the basketball court–an NBA Championship, ten All-Star appearances, as well as being the all-time leader in three-pointers–but will he ever earn those same achievements off the court?
“You never know,’’ Allen said about whether he could ever win an Academy Award. “Crazier things have happened.’’ When asked if he was serious about trying his hand at acting again after he stops playing basketball, “Oh, yes,” he said. “It’s just something that’s going to keep me busy and something that can challenge you and keep you focused on a daily basis.’’
Allen starred in a leading role alongside Denzel Washington in Spike Lee’s He Got Game. The movie was filmed during his rookie season and was released in 1998. While he has only been in one other movie since then–Harvard Man in 2001–he says the only reason he hasn’t done more acting is because of the NBA.
“Basketball has just taken precedent,’’ Allen said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida about why he hasn’t tackled any significant roles since “He Got Game.” “I haven’t been able to find the time. That took my whole summer (of 1997 after his Milwaukee Bucks had failed to make the playoffs). Now, I’ve been playing in the playoffs. Mostly, you go into June and that time is so limited.”
Not that Allen needed convincing he could go from NBA to screen star, but it sure didn’t hurt when he ran into Leonardo DiCaprio a few years ago in Las Vegas.
DiCaprio was said to have liked “He Got Game.” He told Allen he should pursue acting when he retires.
“DiCaprio, he’s a basketball fan,’’ said Allen, the most prolific 3-point marksman in NBA history and a certain Hall of Famer. “He’s a Lakers fan from growing up in L.A. I was hanging out with him in Vegas, and he definitely told me to keep trying and keep going. A lot of people have told me that I should keep going.’’
While He Got Game and Harvard Man are Allen’s only real acting experience, he says he doesn’t want to get into acting just to portray an athlete.
“I would like to do something outside of that realm,’’ Allen said. “I wouldn’t want to be typecast as just being an athlete. You have to expand yourself and get out of your comfort zone.’’
His fellow teammates on the Heat think that a transition into acting will be easy for Allen, citing his charm, charism and incredible work ethic.
“He’s well-versed,’’ said teammate James Jones. “He’s very charming and charismatic. I think it will be an easy transition for him (to being an actor), and he’ll have the confidence to excel because he’s been there before.’’
“He’s worked on his jump shots all his life,’’ Heat forward Shane Battier said. “If he worked that hard in acting, he’ll be a good actor. … He did great (in He Got Game) for an athlete. Having no (long-term) formal training, it’s not easy to be featured in a full-length feature film. He’s got work to do, but I think he’s got a leg up on the competition.’’
Allen is not the only NBA player that has acted on the big screen. Shaquille O’Neal starred in 1996’s Kazaam and 1997’s Steel and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played a small role as pilot Roger Murdock in 1980’s Airplane!, but no basketball fan can forget Michael Jordan’s Space Jam back in 1996.
Although Allen will most likely never win an Academy Award, we wouldn’t mind seeing him on the big screen again.