Latest Adam Sandler film, in collaboration with 2008 Boston Celtics Champion Kevin Garnett, highlights the underground stakes of sports gambling through a revisit of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinal round.
At first glance from the pre-release trailer provided by A24 Studios, one couldn’t help but ask an infinite amount of questions following a very unclear 2+ minute snippet of the Sandler/Garnett duo combination.
Who’s money is Adam Sandler recklessly gambling? Is KG in on the dice rolling? Does Sandler steal the ’08 ring? Why the hell is Mike Francesa in a movie about sports gambling set in New York city? Does Francesa, one of New York sports media’s biggest voices, just not exist in this universe? Where’s David Spade?
Unlike what we’ve seen from Adam Sandler and Shaquille O’Neal in the Grown Ups series, the Safdie brothers deliver a debut version of Adam Sandler that we’ve never seen before.
One that puts aside his multi-decade act of humor, and instead of approaching his latest on-screen performance with a more deep, relatable, and perhaps enlightening portrayal.
Uncut Gems goes back in time to the final stretch of the Boston Celtics ‘Big Three’ era of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett- through the narrative of one Howard Ratner (portrayed by Adam Sandler), a sports-gambling addict who also happens to be a Diamond District jeweler, and is also in a crossroads due to multi thousand-dollar-plus overdue loans that leave Ratner on thin ice, gambling his life.
7-year flashback: It’s the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. A series that went seven games with a 6.5 final score differential within the round. A series also dominated by the then 36-year old Kevin Garnett, clinging on the final stretch of his NBA career.
Kevin Garnett series averages: 19.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 50.4% FG, 50% 3-PT FG, 75% FT
Meanwhile, in New York City, Jewish-American Jeweler, Howard Ratner expresses a literal inability to delay his extremely dangerous gambling addiction, generated by greed and outright irrationality- opposed to bailing his way out of the multiple debts he owes a series of individuals who pay Ratner an unfriendly visit throughout the film.
When Garnett and his 2008 Boston Celtics ring also happen to pay the gamble-hungry jeweler, what else is left for Ratner to do? Lend a multi-million dollar athlete your most prized possession after a 17-month wait due to a flex to impress gone terribly wrong.
Thus another gamble which leads Banner 17’s bling to a pawn shop with multi-thousand-dollar bets surrounding the Boston Celtics and Kevin Garnett. A life-at-stake gambling phenomenon orchestrated by Mike Francesa. Which… the more you think of it, sounds like a dream… or nightmare? Mike Francesa. I mean Gary, gets out-of-the-bloom brick-thick envelopes of cash to drop on Big Ticket KG’s points, rebounds, blocks, and a Celtics win over the Sixers.
Nevertheless, due to the story that history told us fans, we’re lead to believe that KG, Doc Rivers, even Danny Ainge, all bailed out Adam Sandler or Howard the jeweler, from the shake-down of his life.
Adding a life-at-stake gamble to a 18-point, 13-rebound 38 minutes from Kevin Garnett in a game seven Paul Pierce would foul out in, just makes the rewind of this series even more thrilling.
“I’d die out here if I had to, and that’s real talk,” Garnett stated following the conclusion of the series. We’ll KG… that’s one thing you and Sandler had in common in this movie.
Personally, I can’t tell who impressed me more. Kevin Garnett or 53-year old Adam Sandler fresh off a run of Grown Ups and a dozen flop films with Netflix.
Well… (insert over-quoted Kevin Garnett post-2008 NBA Finals line here)