Casting a 1990s-era Knicks-Pacers Movie
by Mark Boyle
November 28, 2012
The Pacers played in New York a little over a week ago, and there was an electricity in the building that reminded me of the mid to late '90s. In those days, it seemed like the Pacers and Knicks met in the playoffs every year (they did, in fact, play six times in the post-season between 1993 and 2000, with each team winning on three occasions) and the energy in the Garden back then was palpable.
ESPN did one of their 30-for-30 documentaries on that rivalry a few years ago, and our recent visit to New York got me to thinking. If ESPN can do a documentary, why couldn't someone do a movie based on that same rivalry? And why couldn't I cast and direct that movie? I've got what I think are some really good ideas, so let's get started.
INDIANA PACERS VERSUS NEW YORK KNICKS: THE MOVIE
J.J. Walker as Reggie Miller
This is a no brainer. Beyond the physical resemblance, the personalities of these two men are remarkably similar. Both are outgoing, ebullient, and full of life, and while Walker may not be able to drain a three-pointer, Reggie can't act (see "Hanging with Mr. Cooper", circa 1994 and the Billy Crystal epic "Forget Paris"). So it's a wash.
Chazz Palminteri as Pat Riley
Smooth and intimidating, with a vague hint at an underworld connection, Palminteri is the perfect choice to play the role of the Knicks coach during the early years of this rivalry. Incidentally, I used to have hair like this. When I was fifteen.
Ted Cassidy as Rik Smits
This one was tough. Very tall blonde actors are not easy to find, and I had to go all the way back to the days of the classic "Addams Family" television series to cast this role. If nit picking is your thing, I suppose you could point out that Mr. Cassidy has been dead for quite some time. So be it. I'll just cast him as Joe Barry Carroll in my next basketball movie.
Avery Brooks as Charles Oakley
This is an essential role, as the brutish yet effective Mr. Oakley was a pivotal player in this rivalry. I was looking for someone that would cause you to soil yourself if you ran into him in an alley, and I believe I've succeeded with Mr. Brooks.
Anthony Zerbe as Donnie Walsh
Mr. Zerbe is a relatively obscure character actor that I first became aware of because of his role as Lieutenant Trench in the '70's TV series "Harry O". Not only does he physically resemble the Pacers Godfather, he has experience with a gun. This will be useful in the movie in some of the scenes involving the Walsh character and Larry Brown.
David Paymer as Jeff Van Gundy
It's been suggested that Bronson Pinchot is the Doppelganger of the Knicks coach from the later years of the rivalry, but I don't see it. Too much hair.
Jaleel White as Spike Lee
I hesitated including Lee in this movie. He was nothing more than an annoyance and had no real role in this rivalry, other than to insert himself in a sort of "hey, look at me sitting courtside and acting like a dufus" manner. But White looks too much like him, and I couldn't resist.
Brad Pitt as Mark Boyle
Some may think this is a reach. But this is my movie, I am in charge of casting, I am the producer and director, and this is how I see things. Sure, it could be argued that Pitt may have a tad more sex appeal than I do, but I can think of no other thespian capable of handling the nuance this role requires.
There are a few more roles to fill, financing to secure, and a shooting schedule to map out. Once those minor issues are worked out, you should look for this masterpiece at a theatre near you.