What I’m about to tell you, I’ve never told anyone. You have to understand that I was just a kid — I didn’t know any better. If I could, I’d go back in time and stop myself. But I can’t. Sometimes we have to live with the choices we make.
Here goes nothing.
I played Zeke, a basketball player with a passion for baking, in a live stage adaptation of “High School Musical.” I sang “Stick to the Status Quo,” dribbled a basketball to the beat of “Get’cha Head in the Game” and flung a cake at Sharpay’s face. To this day, it remains the single most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done — well, at least the most embarrassing thing I’ve done sober.
But I share this cringy blast from the past for two reasons. First, my column is more or less the only therapy I can afford, so you will all just have to bear with me until I come to my moment of zen. But more importantly, the reason behind revealing this mortifying memory is that it inspired me not to return to the stage but to rewatch those old Disney Channel original movies, and in particular, the ones about basketball.
So, for the past week, I’ve watched several hours of made-for-TV movies on Disney+. And while watching terrible movies with terrible actors certainly made me feel less ashamed of my past, it also got me thinking: Could you make a decent starting five from the basketball players in Disney Channel movies? Probably not, but I’m doing it anyway. Here’s my fantasy Disney Channel original movie draft, done in reverse five to one order.
5. Alex Schlotsky from “Full-Court Miracle” (2003)
There’s a lot of basketball players in the fictional sports world, but few have the power of Yahweh on their side. Alex, the star of this Jewish-themed romp, initially suffers from a bad case of chutzpah, but ultimately learns that selflessness and winning as a team are more important than individual achievement.
What elevates him to a top-five pick is that at one point in the movie, a power outage stops the game and the referee declares that if the lights aren’t restored, the game will be over. Alex and his teammates, down by one point, pray. The lights in the gym are restored, enabling them to finish the championship game. That’s the kind of direct connection to God that you need to make a playoff run.
4.Seamus McTiernen from “The Luck of the Irish” (2001)
My next draft pick also comes from a Disney-produced, ethnically white basketball movie made for TV — apparently a marketable subgenre — “The Luck of the Irish.” This time, I’ll focus on the antagonist, Seamus McTiernen, who, as you guessed, is an evil and magical leprechaun.
No, really, this was a movie that someone actually made.
Ignoring the plot of this film, which involves a pot of gold, spring dancing and ends in a half-hearted rendition of “This Land is Your Land,” this movie quietly underplays how overpowered Seamus would be in a real game of basketball. Owing to the fact that he is a leprechaun, Seamus is guaranteed to be incredibly lucky, meaning that despite the low probability of a shot, assist or rebound, he’ll get it anyway. It’s probably cheating, but we’ll just say its luck.
3. and 2. Heather and Heidi Burge from “Double Teamed” (2002)
Despite sharing the name of various adult film franchises, “Double Teamed” is a surprisingly heartwarming story of twin sisters, Heather and Heidi, who played in college and then in the WNBA. They were the world’s tallest female twins, and while they weren’t members of the tribe or endowed with leprechaun powers, their height is a phenomenon in its own right.
But putting aside their ability to tower over their opponents, the chemistry these sisters have built over their decades of playing with each other makes them must-haves for any Disney Channel-based fantasy team. Imagine Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, but with 20 years of experience with one another. That’s how good the Burges would be.
1. Troy Bolton from “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” (2008)
Troy Bolton is the undeniable first pick. He boasts multiple championships, several game-winning shots and was recruited to a variety of different collegiate programs. But even if that doesn’t sell you, Bolton chose to attend Cal to continue his academic and basketball careers, making him an instant pick based on “homerism” alone. Troy is a natural-born leader, and would undoubtedly lead a team to greatness, all the while teaching his teammates musical numbers and dance moves.
All in all, if there’s an actual insight to be learned from these films or from my ramblings about them, I’m not sure what it is. But watching these films taught me an important lesson — this was a total waste of time.