Hustle ending explained: Did the underdog become an NBA star?

Juancho Hernangómez as Bo Cruz in Hustle (Image via Netflix/ YouTube)
Juancho Hernangómez as Bo Cruz in Hustle (Image via Netflix/ YouTube)

Netflix's latest sports drama, Hustle, featuring Adam Sandler, was released on June 8, 2022. With numerous NBA stars and legends appearing in cameos, the film is a basketball fan's dreamboat. Those not familiar with basketball, particularly the NBA, might find comfort in just watching a clichéd inspirational sports film.

Directed by Jeremiah Zagar and produced by Adam Sandler and LeBron James, this film revolves around the trials and tribulations of basketball scout-turned-coach Stanley Sugerman and his discovery, Bo Cruz, a Spanish street basketball player.

According to the story, despite Bo's initial failure to adapt, in a feel-good and exciting climax, he proved his calibre, thereby getting recruited for the NBA. Stanley's arc also ended on a high note with him being reinstated as assistant coach. Therefore, both characters reach their desired goals by the end.

Hustle on Netflix: A brief overview of the plot


Hustle traces the journey of Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler), a basketball scout for the Philadelphia 76ers, as he scoops off a basketball prodigy from the streets of Mallorca and helps him become a professional player.

Bo Cruz, played by Juancho Hernangómez, a real-life NBA player for the Utah Jazz, is a 22-year-old construction worker in Spain whose life changes when he meets Stanley.

The two men, both grappling with their troubled past and toilsome present, persevere to achieve their desires in this heart-warming basketball film. Stanley's motto of "never back down" prevails in his goal of making Bo a star. Meanwhile, both Stanley and Bo's families play a crucial role in supporting them on their journey.

What was the story behind Stanley's hand injury?

Towards the end of Hustle, viewers finally learn about Stanley's tragic past and his hand injury, which is so prominently shown through the film. It adds angst to Stanley's arc and proves instrumental in becoming a teaching moment for Bo.

It was revealed that Stanley was a former basketball player who was involved in a drunk driving accident while out with his friend Leon Rich (Kenny Smith). To save Leon from being thrown off the windshield, Stanley had stretched out his arm and gotten his hand crushed. He also had to spend six months in jail, which effectively put a stop to his chances at an illustrious career as a professional basketball player.

How did Hustle end: Did Bo Cruz become an NBA player?

After his outburst and display of aggression at the combine, Bo's career seemed to be coming to an end even before it had taken off. With heavy hearts, Bo and Stanley bid goodbye at the airport, as the former returns to Spain. However, in an encouraging turn of events, Leon calls Stanley, offering him one last shot for Bo.

After Bo finally managed to prove his mettle, he got recruited by the NBA. However, instead of playing for the Sixers, he joined the Boston Celtics. Stanley also ends the movie with a big win - after Vince's proven lack of capability in handling the team ownership, his sister Kat (Heidi Gardner) takes over, and reinstates Stanley as the assistant coach for the Sixers.

In the final scene, though on opposing teams, the strong emotional bond between Bo and Stanley is palpable. The former's respect for his coach is evident from the tattoo of a tree that he has on his bare arm, with the words "never back down" on it - something that Stanley would constantly tell him.

This is a follow-up from an earlier scene in the film, where Bo had revealed that all his tattoos were dedicated to his mother and daughter, and that the bare arm was dedicated to his absent father. The fact that he dedicated his first tattoo on that arm to Stanley, conveyed his fatherly role in Bo's life.

Hustle ends with both Bo and Stanley getting what they aimed for. The credits are accompanied by instances and names of actual basketball players who made cameos in the film.

Hustle is now available to watch on Netflix.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal
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