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Hustle: Is Bo Cruz's Life Based On A True Story?

At first glance, Netflix's "Hustle," starring Adam Sandler, certainly plays like a sports biopic. There's a struggling talent scout, Stanley Sugerman (Sandler), looking for his big break when he happens upon street basketballer Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez). While he obviously has talent, he's a little rough around the edges, so Stanley takes him under his wing to prepare him for the big leagues. 

If you didn't know any better, it'd be easy to assume Bo Cruz is a real-life basketball player whose story resembles what happened in the film. At the very least, even if Bo Cruz is fictional, one might think his story resembles perhaps someone else who made it to the NBA. As it turns out, Bo Cruz is an entirely fictional character not based on anyone in particular. He's an original creation by screenwriters Taylor Materne and Will Fetters. Bo Cruz does hail from Spain like the actor who portrays him, but that's about where the real-world similarities end. 

Juancho Hernangómez had nothing else to do during COVID-19 than act

Plenty of basketball players have made the leap to movies over the years. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar showed off his funny side in "Airplane," while LeBron James follows in Michael Jordan's footsteps with the lead role in "Space Jam: A New Legacy." Juancho Hernangómez had a chance to show off his skills as an actor in "Hustle," both in a dramatic and comedic capacity, especially acting alongside Adam Sandler. But the only reason he did it was because there was nothing else to do during COVID-19 lockdowns. 

The athlete-turned-actor had no acting experience before, but a unique opportunity came his way. He explained to Basket News how he was hanging out with his family during the lockdowns, and despite never having an interest in performing before, he decided to give it a shot with a bit of encouragement. He said, "They asked me for like three months before to do the castings and videos. And I just did it because my sister wanted to do videos and to do something as a family. They started liking it, and I kept going through the casting process."

It was a lot of hard work, sometimes putting in 12 or 14 hours a day. But the critical acclaim "Hustle" received proved it was all worth it. And who knows? Maybe Hernangómez will give acting another try down the line.