The 1996 hoops comedy “Eddie”, starring Whoopi Goldberg as a mouthy Knicks superfan hired by a Doh’lan-esque owner (played by a whoring-it-up Frank Langella) to replace a pseudo-Pat Riley head coach (Dennis Farina, about 30,000 times funnier than the film’s titular star without even trying) has been mentioned several times in this space over the years, usually everytime Dwayne Schintzius makes the news (which is surprisingly often). I’ve long held the opinion “Eddie” is guilty of of numerous crimes against basketball and cinema, but in the wake of the Carmelo Anthony mess in Denver, Hoop Speak’s Zach Harper argues, “on the surface, it’s no less gimmicky than Air Bud or Like Mike in its fantasy-driven ‘how cool would it be if’ type of tale…however, when you dive into the movie, it shows you a glimpse into the life of the professional athlete that we never really think about.”
NBA players appear to have super human abilities, but they’re still human nonetheless. They’ve been humans whether they’re battling racism, family illness and death, a crappy boss to work for, a city they don’t want to live in or whatever the personal reason is. They’re affected by their lives and jobs the same ways we are, even if they live in a world we can’t all relate to.
In the movie, Whoopi Goldberg’s ability to relate to the players and find a way to reach out to them as a common person is instrumental in bridging the gap between the two existences. Indeed it is only once Eddie connects with her players off the court that her team begins to win on it. You don’t have to feel sorry for the NBA players. Just try to remember what affects your job performance can affect theirs as well.
Is Eddie full of kitschy fluff and inaccuracies that cheapen the reality of the story being told? Absolutely. That’s part of what makes it so fun to watch as a self-aware NBA fan. You can make fun of the failed execution of the NBA rules and intricacies in many ways.
But you can’t deny the reality of the human element this movie deals with, in reminding us that pro athletes are actual people.