Dallas Mavericks Cameo Contest: Dirk in ‘Like Mike’ vs. Luka in ‘Hustle’


If there’s one thing we’re known for on Mavs Moneyball, it’s detailed, intelligent, and philosophical movie reviews. So let’s continue like this. Today I’m going to watch Dirk Nowitzki’s cameo in ‘Like Mike’ and Luka Doncic’s cameo in ‘Hustle’. Let’s decide who was the best in their Oscar-worthy role.

We are going to look at a few categories and the winner of each category will earn a certain number of points. These points will be decided by me and there will be no real reason why a certain category is worth more points than another. It’s just a gut feeling that I’m going to follow as I write this. Here are the categories:


  • Which movie was the best? 5 points
  • Most memorable quote: 10 points
  • Most surprising appearance: 5 points
  • Who do I want to see more? 5 points
  • Who did better? 20 stitches
  • Twitter poll results: 15 points

There are two ways to approach this question. Which movie is cinematically better? And which film is the most legendary?

The answer to the first question is “Hustle”. It’s a really well done movie with amazing acting and directing. Adam Sandler is awesome. Juancho Hernangomez is fascinating. The script is perfect. It has everything an objectively good movie needs.

However, “Hustle” does not have this indescribable legendary aspect. It’s not his fault. It’s just too new. “Like Mike” is one of the most important pieces of cinema for 90s babies and hoop heads. It’s a completely absurd concept that hit all the notes he wanted. It gave the kids a glimpse of what life could be like if they found magic shoes and jumped into the NBA at age 13.

Lil Bow Wow delivered an unforgettable performance as Calvin Cambridge. Morris Chestnut was impressive as Tracy “T-Time” Reynolds. Jesse Plemons was sensational as Ox.

The legacy of “Like Mike” will live on forever. People still buy Calvin Cambridge jerseys. Maybe 20 years from now, “Hustle” will have a similar legacy, but for now, “Like Mike” wins this category overwhelmingly.

Winner: “Like Mike” (and then Dirk Nowitzki)

If you’re reading this, it probably means you’ve seen both movies, which means you know who’s going to win this one. Let’s not even waste time with the Luka Doncic quote (more on that later). The winner here is Dirk Nowitzki by knockout.

Calvin Cambridge meets three Dallas Mavericks players in the tunnels of an NBA arena: Steve Nash, Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk leads the charge and asks Cambridge for his autograph. He clarifies by saying it’s actually for his niece. When Cambridge asks what his niece’s name is, Dirk replies, “Uh, it’s uh… Dirk.”

Some people say modern cinema has never been the same since that quote. I am “some people”.

Winner: Dirk Nowitzki

When Dirk appeared in “Like Mike”, it seemed obvious to me when I was a kid. They had already shown a ton of NBA superstars, so why wouldn’t Dirk be involved? His appearance did not surprise me at all.

When Luka Doncic appeared in “Hustle”, I was surprised. I was watching the movie on my laptop and jumped out of my chair. I didn’t expect to see his face appear on my screen, and it was a glorious surprise. His delivery of “Holy shit! Bo Cruz! Where is this kid from? was absolutely wonderful.

Winner: Luka Doncic

It feels like a trap because if I could put Dirk and Luka in every movie going forward, I would. Can you name a movie that wouldn’t be better with Dirk and Luka in it? I can’t.

But unfortunately, I have to make a choice, and I’m leaving with Luka.

We’ve seen more of Dirk (he’s also in “Hustle” for a brief moment), but we’ve yet to see Luka really tap into his Hollywood persona. After delivering his line in “Hustle,” I was begging for more.

Luka, if you’re reading this, which I’m sure you are, please (PLEASE) make more movies.

Winner: Luka Doncic

This category will probably decide the winner. It’s worth the most points because the point of it all is to compare two NBA players and their respective acting chops.

None of these guys are Al Pacino. They’re better, IMHO – both Oscar-worthy for their on-screen magic.

But I have to go with Dirk here. Luka appears in “Hustle” by way of a phone screen, and it’s just easier to do. In “Like Mike”, Dirk does real acting in person. It is phenomenal work. He made me believe that he actually wanted a 13-year-old autograph.

Winner: Dirk Nowitzki

Finally, I had to feel the pulse of the nation, so we did a Twitter poll asking all MFFL and hoops fans what they thought. We got nearly 300 votes, and here are the results:

The nation has spoken. Need I say more?

Winner: Dirk Nowitzki

For those who didn’t do the math as they read, the final score reads:

  • Dirk Nowitzki: 50 points
  • Luka Doncic: 10 points

Sorry, Lucas. You just suffered a Phoenix Suns Game 7 type loss. It’s not entirely your fault, though. Going up against a juggernaut like Dirk Nowitzki in “Like Mike” is almost completely unfair. It’s like trying to beat the Chicago Bulls in the 90s. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Before I wrap up, I want to thank Twitter voters for understanding and not making me write a profanity post. I really appreciate that. I also want to thank Dirk for giving me a theatrical performance that I will tell my grandchildren about.

Dirk Nowitzki in “Like Mike” you own the best Mavs movie cameo. Congratulations. Guess that means more than the 2011 title.