Television shows are great for escapism and suspending disbelief.
We’ll happily watch shows based around magic and dragons such as Game of Thrones, or zombie infestations, as in Resident Evil but still comment on the quality of the plot or the likeliness of events to actually happen. Sometimes, we can be watching a top show, and suddenly there is a sports star we all know and love, something that can either shatter the illusion or have you utterly delighted.
The debate around cameos in shows is not for these pages; some think it’s a great idea to help boost appeal; others find it a crass attempt to crowbar in a famous face for promotional purposes. There’s no doubt that a cameo works better in a sitcom than a drama, where you’re open to a lack of believability, but sports stars have a habit of turning up anywhere and everywhere.
If you don’t believe us, here’s a handful of sports stars cameos from popular TV shows you either loved or loathed.
Kobe Bryant – Modern Family
The late, great Kobe Bryant was a man of many talents, both on court or in front of the camera. He appeared as himself, which didn’t require much getting into character, but it turns out he was rather good at it. He appeared on an episode of Modern Family, getting ready to play basketball. It was a nice little cameo, one that didn’t stretch your element of disbelief but got a legend onto the show naturally.
Neymar – Money Heist
Neymar, playing the monk Joao in Money Heist (La Casa de Papel), claimed not to like soccer or parties in his brief cameo. That must have required a huge amount of acting; his Paris St Germain side are amongst the favorites for the Champions League in the latest Coral matchday betting listings, proving he loves soccer. As for parties, he told ESPN he would never stop partying. Getting into character as a monk on this Spanish hit show proved he can act in ways that don’t include rolling around on the turf trying to get an opponent booked.
Tom Brady – Entourage
Brady’s role in Entourage wasn’t ever meant to happen. He is described as the ‘backup plan’ as the Manning Brothers initially appeared. Imagine Tom Brady, arguably the greatest football player ever to pull on his cleats, being a backup plan! He was some substitute, delighting on a round of golf with Mark Wahlberg. Brady might be playing a bit more golf now as he recently retired from football, having been a Super Bowl champion a record seven times, although CBS Sports suggests he hasn’t ruled out a comeback.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar – The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was primed for celebrity appearances; Ken Griffey Jr was one star who had a cameo in an earlier episode. Will Smith was merely a boy long before he hit the heights of his movie fame, so it must have been incredible to get some heavy hitters from the world of sport on the show. With it being a comedy, you could suspend that disbelief as Kareem Abdul Jabbar, one of the greatest ballers of all time, smashed Uncle Phil’s kitchen window with a golf ball. When Jazzy Jeff turned up as caddy, the comedy skit was perfected.