They Lead

Movie Director And Avid New York Knicks Fan, Spike Lee, To Direct Upcoming ROTC Drama

Emilee White

Spike Lee is well-known for his cinematic masterpieces ranging from Do The Right Thing to BlacKkKlansman. But did you know he’s also an avid sports fan?

Lee and his family moved to Brooklyn, New York in the 1960s when he was just a child. His new neighborhood soon became the birthplace of Lee’s sports fandom, especially when he was attending game seven of the 1970 NBA Finals.

Wikimedia Commons
​​“It was a memory I will never forget,” Lee said, according to ESPN. “Willis Reed coming back and the Garden went nuts. It was a very special moment in Knicks history.”

Lee still supports the Knicks as well as other New York-based teams like the Yankees and the Rangers, and is also a fan of the English Football team, Arsenal. Lee’s attendance at Knicks game is so well known that his trash talk with Knicks’ legendary assassin, Reggie Miller, was even mentioned in the documentary Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks, as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Sports always served as an inspiration to Lee, both behind the camera and obviously court-side at Madison Square Garden, but it's not his only inspiration. 

For most of his life, Lee saw how Hollywood would “whitewash” war depictions in movies when in reality, the number of African-American and Black soldiers were disproportionately high on the frontlines, especially during the Vietnam War. To address his perception, Lee made Miracle at St. Anna in 2008, his first war movie about four soldiers stuck in Italy during World War II. Twelve years later, Lee released his second war film, Da 5 blood, about the Vietnam War from the perspective of African-American soldiers. 


Just recently in November 2022, Deadline announced Lee as director and executive producer of an upcoming, untitled military drama that focuses on a ROTC program. It seems that Lee is always working on interesting new things since only a few months ago, NBC Sports reported Lee was working on a film adaption of the book “Blood in the Garden” by Chris Herring about the Knicks in the 1990s.

The ROTC project, in partnership with Amazon Studios, was written by Jalysa Conway (U.S. Air Force veteran) and Rebecca Murga (U.S. Army veteran) based on their own personal experiences going through ROTC in college to help pay for tuition before eventually going on to active military duty. There are currently over 1,700 colleges and universities that offer ROTC programs across the country so it’s great to know this often overlooked element of service will be getting recognition on the big screen. 

Other producers/actors are also showing their thanks to those who are serving and who have served the United States. Tom Hanks recently announced in December 2022 he was launching a coffee line called Hanx For Our Troops and all of the profits will go directly to veterans and their families.

The release date for Lee's ROTC drama is TBD. Stay tuned for more updates and (hopefully) an interview with Lee himself.

Photo credits: Spike Lee’s Instagram, Wikimedia Commons, Shutterstock