‘Hustle’ Ending, Explained: Did Bo Qualify To Play In The NBA?


“Hustle” features Adam Sandler as Stanley Sugerman, a professional basketball scout who goes from one country to another looking for the most promising talent. Stanley used to be a basketball player at one point, though later, due to a car accident, he had to start working as a scout. Even though he travels far and wide, he barely comes across a player who has the fire he was searching for. On another hopeless evening in Spain, Stanley watched a match on the street. He was in awe of how passionate the players were, and he had his eyes set on Bo Cruz. Bo won the match and hopped on a bus while Stanley followed him. This was the beginning of a journey that would change the lives of both Bo and Stanley. 

Spoilers Ahead

‘Hustle’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

Stanley works as a talent scout for the Philadelphia 76ers. After watching the long list of the upcoming talents play, he only found Haas to be somewhat interesting, though he did not think of him as being the right investment. The owner of the team, Rex Merrick, trusted Stanley’s instinct, though his son, Vince, was not convinced. Vince went so far as to say that he would murder if Haas started to play for another team. Stanley gave one reason after another, pointing out why he was not great enough to be included in the team. Rex ultimately decided to not invest in the young man, believing Stanley’s assessment. He later gave Stanley a surprise, showing him his office. Rex declared him the new Assistant Coach of the team. Stanley was overjoyed; he could finally stay in his hometown. As a scout, he had been traveling for nine years. Stanley shared the news with his family, and his wife, Teresa, and daughter, Alex, celebrated his success.

Just when life seemed to be falling into the right place, Stanley received the news of Rex’s demise. He admired the man, and his sudden absence affected him. It was at his funeral that he learned that the ownership would now be transferred to his son, Vince. Due to their prior disagreement regarding Haas, Vince did not like Stanley. After taking his father’s role, he asked Stanley to be back in the field as a scout to find the missing piece for the team. Even though he was completely tired and broken, he took the job due his affection for the team. He traveled to Spain and came across a local basketball match played on the streets. He noticed Bo Cruz, a young, tall, athletic man who was the clear highlight of the game. He followed Bo to his house and asked him to be a part of the Philadelphia 76ers. Bo was initially unsure about the deal. He was a construction worker who played basketball at night, though the thought of playing in the NBA was nothing short of a dream. His mother, Paolo, encouraged him, especially after learning about the amount of money he would earn as a player. Even though he was the family’s support system after his father left them for another woman, Paolo agreed to look after his daughter, Lucia, after he left. Stanley shared the news with his team back home. His excitement was evident over the phone. Even though Vince had watched videos of him playing, he doubted his character and mentality. He was concerned about the fact that Bo had not played organized basketball for over eight years. Stanley fought for Bo, but not a word that he said affected Vince’s decision. He warned Stanley that he was paid to find players and not to instruct the owner on how to manage them.

Even though Vince expressed his disinterest in Bo, Stanley decided to bring him to the United States. He had complete trust in his talent, and he knew that Bo would be able to win over everyone after they could watch him play. He decided to pay for all of Vince’s expenses till then, though Teresa was not too pleased about it.

See More: ‘Hustle’ Review: The Adam Sandler Renaissance Is Real, And This Is Another Notch On That Belt

Was Bo Selected To Play For The Philadelphia 76ers? What Was Stanley And Bo’s Past?

Stanley asked the management to give Bo a chance. By then, Vince had another reason to dislike Bo; he was informed about how Bo was held back by the security at the airport since he had an assault case to his name. Vince was not in favor of investing in the man, but he did not stop him from playing. He got an opportunity to play with the team, but he lost his temper when a player, Kermit Wiltz, insulted him and his upbringing. Bo was enraged, and he could not control his temper from affecting the game. He did not play as well as he could have by letting Kermit affect him. Stanley blamed himself for Bo’s performance. He believed he made him play a match a little too early. He knew that Bo was not yet that well prepared for an organized match. Then, Vince announced that he would not invest in Bo and asked Stanley to continue with his search as a scout. Stanley felt insulted by the way Vince treated him, and he left his job.

He started to train Bo every day, rigorously. He woke up early each morning to help Bo gain his speed and learn techniques that would help him play better. Bo was unaware of the fact that he was not looked after by the Philadelphia 76ers. He thought the team was looking after him and training him. Stanley asked his friend, Leon, to help him get Bo to play in the Combine that was set to take place in six weeks. The Combine was an opportunity for all new talents, and Stanley knew that it would be the best platform for Bo. Even after all the hard work, Leon informed Stanley that he could not find a place for him in the Combine. Vince held a press conference to discuss Bo and his assault case in public, stating that the Philadelphia 76ers were in no way involved with the player. Bo was shocked and heartbroken after he found out that Stanley had been lying to him all this time. After venting his anger on Stanley, he discussed what had led to the assault. Lucia’s mother wanted to have sole custody of her after her boyfriend learned that they could get money from the government if they had a child. Bo went to her boyfriend’s place to have a word, but it got worse. He regretted the past. He expressed how Stanley had no idea what it was to be him since he had a perfect family and a perfect life. Stanley shared the details of the car accident. He and Leon had gone to a party after a game. He was drunk driving home. Just when he was about to hit a telephone pole, he reached out his hand to save Leon. Even though Leon was injured a little, Stanley’s hand was completely battered. His act cost the team the NCAA title that year, and he was sent to prison for six months. Sharing their stories of failure and mistakes helped them to better understand each other.

Just when Stanley lost all hope, Alex came up with an idea. She proposed shooting videos of Bo playing against an opponent, where the opponent would be rewarded with cash if they managed to win. The videos were watched by thousands, and Bo became an internet sensation. People came from all around to watch Bo play, and word started to spread about how talented he was. He was ultimately allowed to play in the Combine.

‘Hustle’ Ending Explained: Was Bo Selected After The Combine? 

Stanley flew Paolo and Lucia to reunite Bo with his family. They cheered for him as he entered the court to show off his skills. This time he was able to endure Kermit Wiltz’s harsh comments, but he lost his cool when his rival started to comment on his daughter. Out of anger, he pushed Wiltz to the floor and was about to punch him in the face. He was taken away from the ground. Bo regretted what had happened, and it was time for him to return to Spain with his family. Paolo discussed how Stanley was nothing short of an oak tree in Bo’s life. He was the one to hold him together and help him be the player he had become. Bo left for his home, and Stanley bid him goodbye at the airport, but just then, he received a call from Leon asking him to bring Bo along for a game. It was an open game, a last-minute decision, and there would be only players and front office staff present.

Stanley managed to reach Bo before he boarded his flight, and he rushed to the game. This was Bo’s last chance, and he was not ready to let anyone affect him. He took his time to find his pace, and when he did, he became unstoppable. He managed to fight back Kermit Witlz’s harsh remarks and aced the game. Stanley noticed that Vince’s sister had come to watch the game. They both shared a friendly relationship, and she informed me that Vince had messed up the team’s management, and she had come to fix it. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics were impressed by Bo and wanted to set up a meeting with him.

After five months, we learn that Stanley was recruited back as the Assistant Coach of the Philadelphia 76ers’ team. Bo now plays for the Boston Celtics. Even though they belong to two different teams, they have the same respect and love for each other. Bo wore jersey number 22 to pay tribute to Stanley, who played with the same number. Bo has a new tattoo on his arm that reads “Never Back Down” and has an oak tree inscribed below it. He had tattoos of his daughter and mother on his right arm and chest, and he said that he kept his left arm empty for his father since he meant nothing to him. But after spending months with Stanley, he was nothing less than a father figure to him, and his tattoo signifies Stanley’s place in his life. As the match between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics was about to start, Stanley shared details on how to stop Bo from scoring with his players, demonstrating how he did not let their relationship affect his professional life.

Even though “Hustle” is as predictable as it gets, it does what it sets out to do with pure intention. It is not a pathbreaking film but surely an enjoyable watch. Adam Sandler shines as Stanley Sugerman, and Queen Latifah is a delight to watch. It is a must-watch for all basketball fans simply because of the vast assembly of basketball icons in the film.

“Hustle” is a 2022 Drama Comedy film directed by Jeremiah Zagar.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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