Ten minutes into Lenny Cooke, the documentary's star sits on a couch, watching the 2001 NBA draft with two friends. They debate who is the best player in the NBA: Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, or Kobe Bryant. This is the Post-Jordan Era, and there is no clear king on the NBA's throne.
Red Bucket Films
It's an era of irreverence and optimism. Of Iverson talkin' 'bout practice, of NBA scouts combing through high schools searching for the next Kobe and T-Mac, of a Wild West summer league hoops circuit where AAU coaches and shoe company reps jockey for control of the next generation of ballers.
It's an era of youth and wealth. Of Cash Money Millionaires and Jacob the Jeweler. Of MTV Cribs, Hummers in the driveway, Mitchell & Ness throwbacks in the closet, Cristal bottles in the fridge, stripper poles in the boom-boom room. "The post-modern American Dream," Josh Safdie, one of the film's directors, called it in an interview this week.
Lenny Cooke was riding the wave in 2001. The Bushwick, Brooklyn native was the top high school basketball player in the country at a time when the country was giving high school basketball players millions of dollars. As he notes to his friends in the film, he had "less than a year to make a decision," less than a year until he is eligible for the NBA Draft and competes for the throne. Moments later, Cooke watches the Washington Wizards select Kwame Brown with the number one pick, making him the first high schooler ever taken in the top spot.
"That n---- a millionaire right now," the young Cooke says in the film. "Eighteen years old."
Two of the next three picks are high schoolers as well. By the time the clock starts for the ninth pick, four preps have gone off the board.More »