Joakim Noah Produced a Documentary on High School Phenom Lenny Cooke

by April 12, 2013

Chicago Bulls All-Star center Joakim Noah is one of the people behind a documentary on Lenny Cooke, one of the great what-if stories in basketball history. Noah and Cooke played high school ball together, but took wildly divergent paths after that. Per the Hollywood Reporter (via SOE): “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, still new to the United States after emigrating from France, played with Cooke — 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 says. ‘His story always reminds me to keep my eyes on the prize and to keep distractions away.’ Cooke declared for the NBA draft in 2002, despite high profile college opportunities, and his decline in play, and the distractions around him, led him to go undrafted. After making an effort in the NBA’s Developmental League and the USBL, he blew out both of his knees, and now works as a cook in his native New Jersey. ‘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.'”