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HE GOT GAME

About The Story
"The dynamic in the father and son relationship between Jake and Jesus is really about reconciliation," notes filmmaker Spike Lee while discussing some of the themes at the core of Touchstone Pictures' "He Got Game " "It brings up the questions, 'When do

"The dynamic in the father and son relationship between Jake and Jesus is really about reconciliation," notes filmmaker Spike Lee while discussing some of the themes at the core of Touchstone Pictures' "He Got Game " "It brings up the questions, 'When do you start forgiving someone who has done a great injustice or harm to you?' and 'Can you, and should you forgive him or her?'

"I don't think I've ever done a film that is just about one thing," Lee continues. "Life is filled with different stories and issues and they are all interwoven. So, in this film, we are also looking at the exploitation of the student­athlete. People see young athletes as walking banks and everybody wants a piece of the action.

"In this story, Jesus Shuttlesworth is the best high school basketball player in the nation," Lee explains. "The story takes place the week before he has to sign his Letter of Intent, which declares what school he's going to go to. Being such a national prospect, he is worth millions of dollars and everybody wants a piece of him. It's very hard for him to know whom to trust. He is caught in a very intense week and it becomes even more so with his father showing up after being away for six and a half years."

The passion that Spike Lee has for basketball started very early in his life, and is recounted in his recently published book, The Best Seat in the House. Each season he can be found in his usual courtside seats at New York City's Madison Square Garden cheering his beloved New York Knicks. As with each of his previous films in which Lee has taken prevailing social issues and examined their effects upon individuals and their families, in Touchstone Pictures' "He Got Game" the director­writer­producer depicts a young, talented basketball player who is coping with the effect that his extraordinary skills have on the people around him.

When Dr. James Naismith created the game of basketball in the late 1800s, he could not have envisioned the heights to which his game would reach. Basketball is not just a sport, it is a multibillion dollar a year business. And each year, thousands of young men view basketball as their ticket out of poverty stricken lives. It is an ambition they pursue mercilessly. There is no room for doubt, or to consider that most aspiring players never make it to the pros. In an environment where often nothing else seems to be working, each shot through the hoop, each dunk, each rebound is one step closer to the elusive exit.

"The background of the Shuttlesworth family is that they lived in the Coney Island housing projects, and Jake saw his son Jesus' basketball skills as the family's ticket out of there," explains Denzel Washington. Speaking about his character, Jake Shuttlesworth, Washington says, "Jake was trying to make up for all of the things he wasn't able to do on the basketball court by living through his son and pushing him too hard."

After completing his original screenplay, Spike Lee approached Denzel Washington with the project, and Washington accepted. ''I thought it was a very interesting character and a good story," notes Washington of his attraction to the project.

''I always enjoy working with Spike and filming in New York as well," Washington says. "Spike and I have known each other and work

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