Marques Johnson can do it all.
The UCLA standout and Bucks legend was part of a National Championship-winning team before going to the NBA, where he made five All-Star teams, inspired Michael Jordan, and earned the right to have his number hoisted into the rafters in Milwaukee. Even at 64 years old, the player-turned-Bucks commentator is still able to dunk (over two tacos, no less!). It’s also worth mentioning that after Johnson’s playing days were through, he amassed quite the list of acting credits.
Through the years, the athlete/actor has appeared on a variety of television shows and has been in a range of movies alongside notable thespians like Woody Harrelson, Mark Wahlburg, Wesley Snipes, Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Sinbad, William Shatner, Billy Crystal, and many more. Since we miss basketball a great deal right now, we decided to comb through Marquis Johnson’s IMDb page and rank his television and film credits.
(Editor’s note: Marques Johnson has alerted us to some titles that IMDb has incorrectly attributed to him. We’ve removed those credits from the post and updated the rankings.)
19. The Senator
This 2012 short was apparently finished, but there’s no evidence of its release anywhere. As the titular “Senator,” we’re sure Johnson is featured prominently, but until we can see this, it’ll be at the end of his reel.
18. Palace Guard
The hoops star’s first acting role was in a short-lived television series called Palace Guard. The 1991 show was so short-lived, in fact, that it was canceled before “Eye Of Newt” (the episode featuring Johnson) could air. Oh well! You have to start somewhere, right?
17. Caught Up
In 1998, Johnson played the role of “Strap” in a low-budget psychological thriller called Caught Up. You can look for Strap in this bad bootleg clip.
16. Legends Of Chamberlain Heights
The most recent credit for original “M.J.” is in the realm of animation. He voiced a character in one episode of the basketball-centric Comedy Central cartoon, Legends Of Chamberlain Heights, in 2016. We can’t find a clip. Sorry!
15. State Of Mind
Johnson made his Lifetime Network debut as an unnamed police officer in an episode of State Of Mind, a 2007 show that lasted one season.
14. The Second Half
The year was 1994. The show was an NBC sitcom called The Second Half. Johnson’s role was…some guy named “Thorton” who appeared in an episode entitled “Far And Awry.” And don’t let the title confuse you: this show had nothing to do with basketball.
13. L.A. Law
It’s no exaggeration to say L.A. Law was a huge part of the TV landscape in the late ’80s and early 1990s. Before the seminal legal drama’s eight-season, 172-episode run was through, the Bucks great got to play a part in the series. In a 1991 episode called “Badfellas,” Johnson appeared in the role of General Manager Dan Lipscomb. In your face, Brad Lohaus!
Back in 1994, when rational discourse between people with differing political viewpoints was actually possible, Michael Keaton and Geena Davis starred as rival speech writers who fell in love in Speechless. Johnson played someone named “Hartford.” Based on those three actors’ involvement, it’s safe to say this movie is probably pretty good.
11. Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper
Man, the ’90s had a few different shows where basketball was one of the major plot points. Better times! Family-friendly Mark Curry comedy Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper was one of those shows, which resulted in tons of cameos from NBA players—either playing themselves or playing a character from Curry’s fictional pro basketball past. Johnson’s appearance was of the latter variety, as he played the role of “Charles” in a 1993 episode called “A Moving Experience.”
10. The Gambler
Sure, Johnson’s portrayal of “Game Color Man” in 2014’s The Gambler wasn’t exactly a far departure from his real-life work as a sports annalist, but this one earns pretty high marks compared other roles he has because the feature film also boasts stars like Mark Wahlberg, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Jessica Lange, and Michael K. Williams.
9. Boston Legal
The basketball great also has the distinction of playing a jury foreman on TWO different episodes of quirky early-aughts network procedural Boston Legal opposite William Shatner, James Spader, Candice Bergen, and Julie Bowen.
8. Moonlight (TV series)
This isn’t the same Moonlight that won Best Picture a few years ago. Rather, this Moonlight is a “paranormal romance television drama” that ran for a total of 16 episodes in 2007 and 2008. During one episode, Johnson plays a minister. You can watch his performance here.
7. Forget Paris
Remember this 1995 Billy Crystal film about an NBA referee who, like, finds love (possibly in Paris) between arguments and comedic interactions with real life NBA players? Well, Johnson is one of those players!
6. Blue Chips
While the box office reports and many critics weren’t kind to 1994’s Blue Chips, the film has earned a place in the hearts of many hoops enthusiasts…largely in part to all of the NBA greats involved in the picture. Johnson played the role of “Mel” in a vehicle that also featured the likes of Shaq, Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, “Penny” Hardaway, Kevin Garnett, Allan Houston, and more.
5. The Sinbad Show
In terms of screen time, this might be the biggest role of Johnson’s acting career. In the 1993 episode of The Sinbad Show called “I Coulda’ Been The Man,” Johnson guest stars as Nelson Robinson, an accomplished baller from Sinbad’s past who comes back to town. Yes, it’s The Sinbad Show, but Johnson is legitimately good!
In one of M.J.’s more modern credits, he trades lines with Nathan Fillion in an episode of the comedy-tinged ABC crime drama Castle in 2014. Watch part of his appearance below and give him props for not flinching when something exploded behind him.
When the Special Olympics come to Baywatch, a longtime friend of Mitch—”Carl Shepard”played by Johnson—comes to oversee the event. Gymnastics legend Mary Lou Retten also appears in this episode as herself. You can see both Johnson and Retten in the clip below.
2. Hang Time
Before Anthony Anderson was flirting with A-list popularity as a game show host, mobile phone pitchman, and the star of Black-ish, he was part of NBC’s Saturday morning programming in the cast of Hang Time. The teen comedy about a goofy cast of high school b-ball players in Indiana also made room in its scripts for a bunch of actual athletes. In a season two episode entitled “Superman Brodis,” Johnson plays a prominent part as Teddy’s (Anderson’s) father. Check out a clip from the episode (complete with a guy translating the dialogue into sign language!) below.
1. White Men Can’t Jump
Last and certainly not least, we make our way to Johnson’s most notable role, Raymond from White Men Can’t Jump. In the iconic early ’90s film, Johnson ably portrays a hot-tempered street ball player. You can watch him here or in the clip below.