Uncle Drew is back, and that means Kyrie Irving’s return to the Cavaliers must not be far behind. The fourth chapter of the Uncle Drew series dropped on Thursday morning, and basketball’s favorite old head brought a few of his friends.
The newest addition to the series (directed and written by Irving) welcomes Ray Allen, who plays Walt, Louis (Baron Davis), and Angelo (JB Smoove). Irving, in his full Uncle Drew getup, goes up against Allen for a game of H-O-R-S-E, with ridiculous results. Davis plays most of his role from a Hoveround, and Irving uses it as a prop for a shot at one point in some sort of modern day version of Chekhov’s Gun. (If you introduce a Hoveround into the play, that same Hoveround must be used later.)
Irving plays this character so well, you almost expect this to spin off into a longer show. He feels so comfortable as Uncle Drew, and Smoove seems to think it’s because Irving can wrap himself in the makeup and become that person. He’s safe – he’s not the Cleveland Cavaliers star anymore; he’s someone else.
“That’s Uncle Drew,” Smoove says. “I haven’t even been calling him Kyrie. He’s Uncle Drew. It really works. It really lets you have fun, and you only say things the character would say and do things the character would do because you’re taking on this persona. I think he’s doing a great job, man. I watch the videos, and he’s so funny.”
Davis, who has plenty of past acting experience, relished the opportunity to get dressed up and turned into an old baller. His signature beard rivals Irving’s, and he drew from a familiar Eddie Murphy movie to try and get into his role.
“I don’t even think you’ll recognize me,” Davis told Uproxx Sports while he was in makeup from the shoot. “It’s just crazy, the whole transformation. I was just trying to come up with a personality for the commercial. I started thinking about different characters, and I used Coming to America for reference.”
Smoove spends the beginning of the spot discussing some of his favorite players, and he portrays some sort of basketball guru throughout, or at the very least, one of those hangers-on with Davis and Irving. As Smoove puts it, he’s “one of the basketball aficionados who knows a whole lot about nothing.”
The crew filmed in Miami back in September, as Irving continued to recover from offseason surgery as a result of a fractured kneecap. And the intro to the video gives a not-so-subtle hat tip toward that.
“Basketball is a physical game,” Uncle Drew narrates to begin the Pepsi spot. “You’re going to take hits. The question is, how do you bounce back? How do you get stronger? Passion. Discipline. Fundamentals. Got that, youngbloods? Good. Now let’s go to work.”
The original timeframe for Irving to return to the Cavaliers was three to four months after his initial surgery in June, but reports later indicated he might be out until January. That said, the timing of the Uncle Drew chapter is likely no coincidence; why drop it in the middle of November if Irving wasn’t almost ready to come back?
“He looks good,” Davis said back in September. “He’s done a good job of keeping himself in shape, even with the injury. He just has a wealth of knowledge for the game, and you never worry about somebody like that.”
Not that the Cavs have any need to rush Irving on the court – Cleveland is currently in the midst of a seven-game winning streak after the opening night loss to Chicago. The Cavaliers play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Friday.