1992’s White Men Can’t Jump

A classic of the 90s, White Men Can’t Jump has an intriguing backstory compared to its contemporaries. Although on the surface another sports film, the authentic approach to street basketball gained a cult fanbase including Stanley Kubrick.

Ron Shelton got the idea for the film when he went to his regular court. Instead of his team, he found a padlocked gate.

“There was an argument about whether something was a block or a charge, and [someone] went to his glove compartment and shot a guy dead.”

Shelton held L.A street ball close to heart. As a result, location manager Kokayi Ampah worked with the communities it depicted, negotiating with local gangs and hiring Fruit of Islam security in order to film at real courts. They too gave back after filming, refurbing and building courts wherever possible.

Although not a film that would jump to mind for fashion, it almost perfectly captured the style of the period. From a subtle Stussy 8 ball tee to the iconic cycling cap, Costume designer Francine Jamison-Tanchuck paid careful attention to the trends at the time.

It’s too well-remembered for the abundance of swoosh footwear, including the Air Command Force, Air Flight Lite, Air Jordan VI and V, Air Force V Low, Air Solo Flight ’90, as well as pairs from Adidas and Reebok. Nike have since re-released the infrared AJ6, and a shoe inspired by the film.

In order to ensure the basketball the film centres on was authentic, hall of famer Bob Lanier was brought in to coach the actors, estimating the two became skilled enough to play at division 2 level. It wasn’t coincidence they had potential - Keanu Reeves tried out for the role, but couldn’t play to standard.

“I just threw a ball out there. That sort of weeded it out” - Shelton for EW

Basketball players were also brought on the cast, including Marques Johnson as Raymond, Freeman Williams as ‘Duck’ Johnson and Gary Payton as a street player.

Even so, the entire film was choreographed to a T, running plays on repeat for days, all to “look unchoreographed” as Shelton commented to NPR. The set plays were then cut in with footage of the actors playing pickup games for real touches.