Buzz Bissinger worked as an investigative reporter, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his work tackling corruption in the Philadelphia court system. But his 1990 book Friday Night Lights is widely considered one of the best sportswriting pieces ever, and the cinematic version of the story won the Best Espy for Sports Films in 2004. His work with current Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, Shooting Stars, is now a feature-length film on Peacock, as the pair hope to have the same success in translating the story from real life to the page to the screen.
Shooting Stars is an entertaining and inspiring look at some of the foundational moments that made LeBron James the superstar, global icon, and outspoken voice for change that he is. With funny and dramatic interactions by James, his teammates at St. Vincent’s-St. Mary High School, and their families, the biopic proves to be basketball-centric as well as insightful into the lives of teenage athletes in America today. Marquis Mookie Cook plays James, with Dermot Mulroney as his coach. (Jett Howard as Carmelo Anthony also makes for an interesting basketball Easter egg, too – as Howard’s father Juwan was Jame’s teammate from 2010-2013, before becoming a coach for the Miami Heat.)
The LeBron James that the world knows has come a long way from the streets and gymnasiums of Akron, Ohio, but with the narrative shared through the book with Bissinger and the collaboration with director Chris Robinson, James makes it clear that he wants everyone to know where he came from and how he got here. The LeBron James that the world knows – the winner, the businessman, the social activist – all starts with the young man who had to figure out who he was with some help from his mother, his friends, and the people around him who saw him as more than a kid who could dunk. Yes, Shooting Stars is a movie about basketball, but it’s also a movie about life, and the work we have to put in if we want to be successful, or maybe, great.
One wouldn’t be surprised if after watching the well-produced film if young (and old) basketball players didn’t find themselves drifting outside to their hoops, dreaming about the moments when they might lead their friends to victory. Yes, this is an opportunity for James to grow his media influence, but more than that, it’s an opportunity to inspire another generation of young men and women to be great.
Put another way, it’s James’ reminder to all who will see the film to shoot for the stars.