Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve Rash|
|Produced by||David Permut|
|Screenplay by||Jon Connoly|
|Story by||Steve Zacharias|
|Music by||Stanley Clarke|
|Cinematography||Victor J. Kemper|
|Edited by||Richard Halsey|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
|Box office||$31.4 million|
The New York Knicks are also-rans in the NBA, their roster filled with players who either lack talent or are too distracted by off-the-court issues. Nonetheless, limousine driver and rabid fan Edwina "Eddie" Franklin (Whoopi Goldberg) attends every Knicks game in the nosebleed section of Madison Square Garden.
During halftime of a game, Eddie is one of three fans picked to win a chance to be the honorary assistant coach of the Knicks for the second half by sinking a free throw, which she does. She quickly gets on the nerves of head coach John Bailey (Dennis Farina), whom she had heckled earlier.
Eddie is eventually charged with a technical foul for stepping onto the court during an argument between Bailey and a referee, and she is ejected from the Garden, to the fans' dismay. Eddie's popularity piques the interest of the new Knicks owner, "Wild Bill" Burgess (Frank Langella). After he forces Bailey to quit, Burgess names Eddie the new head coach.
The decision is received with skepticism and derision. However, she eventually is able to connect with the players both off and on the court to earn their respect. Eddie is able to lead the Knicks into championship contention; the winner of their game against the Charlotte Hornets, now coached by Bailey, will receive the final spot in the NBA playoffs.
The night before the game, Burgess tells Eddie that if the Knicks win this game, he plans to sell the team to someone who intends to move the team to St. Louis. A conflicted Eddie must decide what to do when the Knicks take a one-point lead with just a few seconds to play. Realizing the consequences, she stops the game to announce Burgess's plan to the crowd at the Garden.
Faced with the possible enormous backlash from the Knicks' fans, Burgess promises the crowd he won't sell the team or move them out of New York City. When play resumes, the Hornets have one last chance to win, but Larry Johnson commits a charge on the game-winning layup, nullifying the basket and giving the Knicks the victory and the playoff berth.
- Whoopi Goldberg as Edwina "Eddie" Franklin
- Frank Langella as William "Wild Bill" Burgess
- Dennis Farina as Coach John Bailey
- Richard Jenkins as Carl Zimmer
- Lisa Ann Walter as Claudine
- John Benjamin Hickey as Joe Nader
- John Salley as Nate Wilson
- Mark Jackson as Darren "Preachor" Taylor
- Malik Sealy as Stacy Patton
- Dwayne Schintzius as Ivan Radovadovitch
- Rick Fox as Terry Hastings
- Greg Ostertag as Joe Sparks
- Vernel Singleton as Jamal Duncan
- John DiMaggio as construction worker
Players from several NBA teams played major roles, including Alex English as the Cleveland Cavaliers' coach, Dwayne Schintzius, Greg Ostertag, and Rick Fox. Dennis Rodman, Muggsy Bogues, Vinny Del Negro, Vlade Divac, Bobby Phills, J. R. Reid, Terrell Brandon, Brad Daugherty, Mitch Richmond, Avery Johnson, Corie Blount, Larry Johnson, Randy Brown, Olden Polynice, and Scott Burrell appeared as themselves. Gary Payton, Anthony Mason, Herb Williams, and John Starks appeared as streetballers. Kurt Rambis appeared as the head coach of the Lakers. Chris Berman, Marv Albert and Walt Frazier also appeared in the movie as broadcasters.
Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Ed Koch, Fabio, and David Letterman also appeared in the movie. Gene Anthony Ray (who played Leroy in both Fame the series and the 1980 film) also features as associate choreographer, one of his last credits before his death in 2003.
During the production of the film Goldberg and Langella started dating; their relationship lasted until 2001.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 18% based on 34 reviews, with an average rating of 2.69/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Whoopi Goldberg may demonstrate that she can coach a basketball team with the best of them, but not even she can whip this dreary script into shape." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.