Photo behind-the-scenes of filming of Shooting Stars in CWRU's Adelbert Gym with a basketball game being played
Credit: Universal Pictures

Adelbert Gym debuts nationally today in LeBron James’ high school biopic

After serving as a film set this time last year, historic Adelbert Gym begins appearing on screen today as a stand-in for a New Jersey arena where LeBron James and his high school team faced off against a prep school with its own future NBA All-Star, Carmelo Anthony.

Based on the book co-authored by James and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Buzz Bissinger, Shooting Stars traces how James and his childhood friends led Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to the Associated Press No. 1 ranking in the early 2000s.

“People think they know my story, but this is our story,” James says in the film’s official teaser. “This is how I met my brothers and how we became family.” 

Photo behind-the-scenes of filming of Shooting Stars in CWRU's Adelbert Gym of basketball players on the court
Credit: Universal Pictures

James, a four-time NBA Champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, attended the film’s Los Angeles premiere Wednesday with his former high school teammates. Earlier this month, James’ family foundation and Universal Pictures partnered to provide showings in his hometown of Akron. 

The movie itself was filmed entirely in the region; location manager Wendall Hinkle vividly remembers the moment director Chris Robinson first stepped inside Case Western Reserve’s historic athletic structure.

“As soon as Chris saw Adelbert Gym, he knew it had to be featured in the film,” Hinkle recalled. “We were looking for something different and distinct from other gyms in Northeast Ohio.” 

After last year’s commencement, a fleet of trucks, equipment and technicians arrived on campus for a shoot lasting four days and nights. Crews transformed the century-old space into what was then known as Trenton’s Sovereign Bank Arena. More than 11,000 fans filled the stands for the 2002 showdown, where Anthony’s Oak Hill Academy prevailed. 

In addition to Adelbert Gym, several other campus locations helped host the production. Kent Hale Smith engineering classrooms served as green rooms and base camp for costume, hair and makeup, while Thwing Center functioned as the catering location for cast and crew. Meanwhile, Strosacker Hall served as a holding area for more than 300 extras who would cheer wildly as actors battled on the court.

Adelbert Gymnasium was erected between 1918 and 1919. It was originally constructed as an armory for World War I, but the war ended before its completion, so it was never used for that purpose. Teams played basketball there for more than 50 years, ending during the 1969-1970 season. 

In 2013, the university upgraded the facility with a refurbished playing court. Adelbert Gym now is most commonly used for varsity athletic practice as well as intramural, club sport and campus recreational functions.

Shooting Stars begins streaming today on Peacock.