Netflix’s Hustle starring Adam Sandler and real-life NBA player Juancho Hernangómez introduced basketball fans to the interesting Boa Challenge to basketball fans in 2022. It’s a ploy crafted by NBA scout Stanley Sugerman, Sandler’s character, to build some hype around Hernangomez’s Bo Cruz.
It was an interesting plot device that gave basketball fans something to consider. It shows how viral marketing affects the NBA and the sport of basketball in general.
What is the Story of the Boa Challenge?
Bo Cruz was a talented basketball player whose hot-headedness often got him in trouble. So, when his rival Kermit Wilts takes advantage of this, Cruz loses it and assaults Wilts, which costs him an invitation to the draft combine.
This altercation resulted in Cruz being blackballed from the draft combine, putting his draft dreams on hold. So, on the brink of derailing his NBA dreams, Stanley Sugerman, the talent scout who brought him under his wing, thought up a plan to drum up Cruz’s draft stock. The plan was to give Cruz a social media presence by challenging basketball players, both pros and non-pros, to a game of 1-on-1 with an interesting twist.
The goal of the whole challenge was to give Cruz an alternative to the draft combine. It was a platform to showcase his basketball skills on a massive scale.
The movie even injected some surprising cameos of real-life NBA stars and personalities such as Allen Iverson, Luka Doncic, and Seth Curry. Even the Sixers’ starting power forward, Tobias Harris, participated in the challenge.
So, once the Boa Challenge became a viral success, he finally got the invitation he’s been praying for.
Is Bo from Hustle a Real NBA Player?
Because of the familiar storyline and the number of cameos from real players and other personalities appearing as themselves, many people are left thinking: is Hustle based on a true story?
Bo Cruz from Hustle is a streetball player from Spain known for his incredible skills on the court. He’s a hustler on the basketball court in the way he plays defense. He never gives up and can play defense like no other.
His defense is so good that he can shut down the best players in the world. In fact, that’s how the Boa Challenge was born. He was called the “Boa Constrictor” as he suffocated his opponents with his defense.
The beauty of the screenplay is that it’s very realistic and similar to experiences that many people can relate to, not just basketball players. The story is about a hustler who plays streetball and struggles to make ends meet. He is trying to get his family out of poverty and is willing to take any risk necessary, including migrating at a moment’s notice with an NBA scout he barely knew.
Unfortunately, despite the extremely relatable story and the huge cast of cameos, Hustle is an entirely fictional story by screenwriters Taylor Materne and Will Fetters.
However, While Hustle’s Bo Cruz is a fictional NBA player, the actor who plays him is real. His name is Juancho Hernangómez, and he’s a talented Spanish player who really does have a career in the NBA.
Hernangómez is a standout player from Spain who was drafted in 2016 by the Denver Nuggets. He played there until 2020, until he was traded. He is a solid role player so he was able to find roster slots in various teams after Denver. He was most recently signed by the Toronto Raptors.
What are the Rules of the Boa Challenge?
So, now with the backstory out of the way, it’s time to answer another important question: How does the Bowa Challenge work?
The rules are simple:
- You play one-on-one basketball against Bo Cruz.
- If you hit the rim, you get $50.
- If you make a basket, you get $100
- If you win in a 1-on-1 game in a race to 5 against Bo Cruz, you earn $1000 and bragging rights that go along with being able to say, “I beat Bo!”
Issuing the challenge was a smart move for Cruz and Sugerman as it helped boost Bo’s profile as a player while winning over fans in the process. It was also an important plot device that helped movie watchers understand Bo Cruz’s style of play, personality, and work ethic. It was also a vehicle for one of the movie’s main themes: that rejection and failure isn’t the end of the line for one’s dreams.
Bo Cruz isn’t always dealt the best cards in life. He wasn’t born of wealth and didn’t have connections to get to the NBA on his own. For some people, this would have been devastating; but Cruz took it as a sign that he needed to work harder and prove himself if he wanted to make it as a professional player.
Is the Boa Challenge a Real Basketball Challenge?
Unfortunately, the Boa Challenge was a product of the movie’s creative writers. It was a plot device that moved the story forward and showcased Bo Cruz’s play style, motivation, and personality.
However, the game’s mechanics are interesting enough that it’s not at all impossible that players have come up with different versions of it at their favorite playground. Plus, its focus on defense is a welcome change from the usual basketball movies that puts more emphasis on a player’s offensive talents.
Wrapping Things Up: What is the Boa Challenge?
Hustle is one of the most well-received sports movies in recent years. It’s a feel-good film with everything you want from a sports movie: an underdog story, incredible performances, and plenty of heartwarming moments.
And unfortunately, the viral Boa Challenge, no matter how appealing, is not a real basketball challenge that has gone viral in the real world. This is unfortunate because it would be such a great promotion for a more defensive style of play which today’s game is sorely lacking.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.