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What the ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ Remake Might Look like

Bill Simmons, Chris Ryan, and Rembert Browne speculate in our latest Sports Movie Hall of Fame podcast

(20th Century Fox)
(20th Century Fox)

In January it was revealed that 20th Century Fox would remake White Men Can’t Jump. The 1992 movie doesn’t necessarily need a remake — it’s the latest entry in our Sports Movie Hall of Fame — but there may be a way to do it that makes sense. Bill Simmons, Chris Ryan, and New York magazine’s Rembert Browne discussed their ideas for a remake.

Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.

There’s a Way to Modernize the Original

Bill Simmons: Maybe there is a way to remake this, make it more modern.

Chris Ryan: Here’s the thing: This movie comes out at — not a time of innocence, by any stretch of the imagination, but prior to the L.A. riots, right? So I think there’s a different mainstream pop-cultural conversation about race relations right before this movie comes out [compared] to after this movie comes out. So they have to find something that is the Woody-[Harrelson]-going-into-Inglewood version of this movie, and I don’t know what that is. Or it’s like a black guy going into rural America and playing basketball in, you know, Illinois or Indiana. Do you know what I mean? You have to switch the settings up.

Simmons: What if it’s Billy Hoyle Jr.?

Ryan: That’s what they’ll probably do.

Simmons: See, that’s gonna suck.

Rembert Browne: And it’s Miles Teller.

Ryan: Oooooh.

Simmons: Chris Ryan’s back in!

The Movie Could Include Some of the Original Characters — Like ‘Creed’

Simmons: So if you told me right now Kenya Barris is writing the remake, and modernizing it, and [Michael B. Jordan] is the Wesley Snipes type of character, I think I’m in, and I’m [normally] anti-remake.

Browne: Completely in.

Ryan: I would 100 percent see it. You know that they have to get Wesley and Woody in there somewhere. Like they’re playing in a seniors tournament or something like that or they teach these [new] guys [because] they’re not going to make it a straight reboot. They’ll have characters from the old movie in there.

Simmons: We all agree that even though it’s [been] 25 years and even though this movie still holds up and it’s super-watchable, it is dated. And there is a way to modernize it and make a new version of it that’s fun. I didn’t like the idea for Creed.

Ryan: I know how you hustle people online, like you con them and dox them and fish their emails and stuff like that. How would you even con somebody in real life now? Would you be like, “Hold up, let me Google you. Oh wait, look, there’s this video of you dunking on someone, I know that you’re good at basketball.” Do you know what I mean? Everyone is on tape.

Rem: It’s like you paid for your followers.

OK, What Does This Look Like?

Simmons: Can I throw this at you: [Black Panther director] Ryan Coogler directing?

Browne: I’m in.

Simmons: MBJ as the lead? It’s a tiny bit darker, and better filmed and less like comedy. … Coogler kinda does his thing to it, and I think that’s a really interesting movie. I don’t think it’ll happen.

Browne: And Jordan’s already swole.

Ryan: He’s diesel. They gotta get all these roles out of him while he’s still swole. I think Teller still might be swole from Bleed for This.

Simmons: Aw, man. How can we fix Teller? Could Teller play hoops? Would he be a good Billy Hoyle Jr.?

Browne: [Ansel] Elgort! Elgort can dunk!

Ryan: Yeah, Elgort can play!

Browne: I saw him miss eight dunks once, but I saw him make the ninth.

Ryan: Yeah, because I made fun of him on Grantland and he like tweeted at me like, “Come to Brooklyn and I’ll dunk on you.” And he put a video of himself dunking there.

Finally, Bring in the NBA Stars

Simmons: Here’s the other reason why this movie would work out of many reasons: You know they’d load it with NBA cameos, right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Browne: Yes.

Simmons: [Russell] Westbrook’s people would be like, “Russ, I think this would help with your brand, if you’re in this movie as one of the pickup guys.” It would be, I would say, 80 percent NBA guys would be the guys that they play pickup against.

Browne: What if the first scene is at like the celebrity game?

Simmons: Oh now we’re writing the movie for Kenya Barris.

Browne: Yeah, sorry. This is free, never mind.

Simmons: Kenya, give us a consulting fee. Yeah, I’m all for it.