Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is teaming up with Lenny Cooke to produce a feature documentary about the former basketball phenom that’ll be called, what else but Lenny Cooke,
The film will highlight the rise and fall of the high school athlete who was once thought to be the next Magic Johnson, only to lose it all before any of it became a reality.
In the early 2000s, Cooke was the top basketball prospect in the country. However, poor decisions and injuries sidelined him for good.
A brief from a 2012 New York Times piece:
What went wrong? How did he miss by so much? Stretched on the couch, glancing at a big-screen television, he shrugged and said, “You had a devil on one shoulder and an angel on another.” After arriving with a phalanx of relatives, Cooke’s mother, Alfreda Hendrix, explained that her son had heeded the wrong calling and had mistaken what was given to him as something he had earned. “He was a teenage kid, and every day, he had money in his pocket — and I don’t mean $200 or $300,” she said. “It was whatever he wanted, like the world was his, so he took advantage of it. I guess he didn’t figure that things were going to fall down because people kept telling him it was only going to get better and better. He made a lot of mistakes, but as far as his attitude, he’s changed now. He has matured a lot.”
A familiar story, which you can read in full HERE.
Set to make its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival which starts later this month, the 90-minute film is directed by Benny Safdie and Joshua Safdie.
It was made with incredible access to Lenny’s story, from his run-down home in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to the New Jersey suburbs where he spent his high school career, through to the present day, with the friends and family who shared in his dreams and aspirations.
Apparently, Joakim Noah (son of former professional tennis player Yannick Noah), played with Lenny Cooke, who was two years his senior, for the AAU team The Panthers in 1999.
“Lenny has always been one of my biggest inspirations as a basketball player,” Noah said. “His story always reminds me to keep my eyes on the prize and to keep distractions away […] I hope Lenny will push his story out to the next generation of kids who aspire to one day play competitive basketball at any level […] If his story can make an impact on just one or two kids who have the opportunity to see the film, I believe we’ll be making a difference.“