At what lengths would you go to win a basketball game? Lil Rel Howery (Dax) and the rest of the gang on Uncle Drew trade in their canes and walkers to head back to New York City’s legendary Rucker Park to strut their stuff on the court. Howery’s team is comprised of senior citizens who are way past retirement age and are longtime faithful AARP members.
The film, directed by Charles Stone III, casts a slew of real-life NBA stars like Kyrie Irving (Uncle Drew), Reggie Miller (Lights), Chris Webber (Preacher), Lisa Leslie (Betty Lou), and Shaquille O’Neal (Big Fella) among others. The players spend long hours in make-up chairs to complete their transformations into senior age. One by one Howery leads a mission to reunite the old team members and convince them all to join in to play against his arch nemesis Mookie’s (Nick Kroll) team.
The concept of Uncle Drew was first introduced as a commercial to promote Pepsi products, which then got picked up as a feature film. For Irving, playing Uncle Drew is much more than just having fun playing an elder, but more so, showing the world how much he loves being on the court.
“I think one of the biggest things that I wanted to be echoed throughout this film is how much I love the game of basketball,” he tells VIBE. “And what it has offered me in terms of a vehicle to get to other places, build relationships, and really better myself and I think it’s pretty clear what Uncle Drew was trying to do, which is better himself throughout the movie.”
Nonetheless, despite the basketball chatter, more poignant issues were discussed during the film’s Los Angeles press-run. Lil Rel took a chance to address how unfair the entertainment industry treats members of the black media when it comes to equity in access at events and interview opportunities. The night before this interview, the MTV Movie Awards took place (June 18) where he purposely began his interviews in the back where the black press was.
“Well, it started with the movie awards. I decided that if they are going to put all the black press in the back like that then I’m going to start in the back first,” he tells VIBE. “Then I’m going to work my way up until they mix it up like it should be.”
Watch the full interviews with the cast of Uncle Drew below.