Cole Anthony Co-Starred in a Nickelodeon Sports Documentary During His Youth

March 14, 2022

Crystal McCrary McGuire's Son, Cole Anthony

Raymond J. McGuire and Crystal McCrary in the living room of their Upper West Side home, with paintings by Aaron Douglas, Charles Alston, and others.PHOTO: GEORGE CHINSEE/ARTNEWS

ORLANDO – About 25 seconds into the trailer, a middle school-aged Cole Anthony says, “I’m happiest in the world when I get to play basketball – a whole bunch, like a lot.”

The two-hour Nickelodeon sports documentary released in 2015 titled “Little Ballers” shares the journey of Anthony and his New York City-based New Heights AAU basketball team. Anthony’s mother, Crystal McCrary, created the film to inspire youth – not just on the court but in life in general.

“I was just a mom following the boys around taking photographs and I realized they all come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, but yet on the court and off the court they are brothers,” McCrary told entertainment news reporter Alexis Joy in early 2015 shortly before the program premiered on television. “That was the story that was fascinating to me that I wanted to explore. We are also basketball lovers in my family, and I wanted to see if I can trace the journey of an AAU player all the way up to the NBA.”

Certainly not camera shy anymore – as you probably have noticed from his media interviews – Anthony admits that it took a little while to get used to being filmed. Once he and his teammates got comfortable with that, though, it became a normal part of their routine during practices, games, and other team functions.

“In all seriousness, it was a really fun experience,” he said. “As a kid, we got to go to a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and just like having that camera around at ten, eleven years old, you are going to notice that. It was definitely cool. Looking back at it now, it’s something I always look back at fondly.”

Anthony, now a 6-foot-3 guard for the Orlando Magic, offered some advice to other kids while he and his co-stars did an interview with CelebSecretsTV in 2015.

“Stay in contact with everyone you meet,” he shared.

Life lessons like that were a significant part of the film. McCrary, a lawyer, author, filmmaker, and social justice warrior, was able to get several NBA stars and other celebrities involved in the project. Amar’e Stoudemire, then playing for the New York Knicks, and rapper Lupe Fiasco were executive producers. Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Joakim Noah, Tyson Chandler, and Carmelo Anthony were some of the others that appeared on screen.

“Anything that keeps kids off the street is very important,” Noah, then a member of the Chicago Bulls, said in the film.

Also featured was Walt Frazier, one of the greatest NBA players ever and an extremely popular figure in New York as the Knicks’ television color commentator.


“The coach used to psyche us up by just giving us certain adages that gets you fired up,” he explained in the documentary.

Among the examples he used were: ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog,’ ‘believing is achieving,’ and ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going.’


After the completion of the film, Anthony would take his game on the hardwood to new heights. He went on to become one of the best high school players in the country, starring for Queens, New York’s Archbishop Molloy for three years and Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy for one before heading to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to play one college season for the Tar Heels.


In his second season with the Magic, who chose him 15th overall in the 2020 draft, he’s averaging 17.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.7 assists.