We can add another title to Bulls All-Star center Joakim Noah’s name. Noah is jumping into the Hollywood game as an executive producer on a documentary bout his former AAU teammate, Lenny Cooke.
Cooke has become an NBA cautionary tale. The former high school star decided in 2002 to skip college and declare for the NBA draft. Cooke eventually loss focus and went undrafted . He spent time in the D League and ended up blowing out both of his knees, never making it to the NBA. Cooke currently works as a cook in his native New Jersey.
The film, simply titled Lenny Cooke, charts the rise and fall of a high school athlete once thought to be the next Magic Johnson, only to fall victim to the easy lure of money and hangers-on that often seize like vultures on promising prospects. The film will make its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Noah and Cooke played on the same AAU team in 1999, Cooke was a few years older than Noah but the time spent with him made an impact and helped shaped his professional focus:
“Lenny has always been one of my biggest inspirations as a basketball player,” Noah says. “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,” Noah added. “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.”