Star Trek’s celebrity fans come from all over, but only one professional sports star has ever appeared on-camera in a speaking role: legendary Los Angles Laker forward James Worthy. And what better way to fulfill his informal request to appear on the show than by casting him as the “tallest Klingon in the universe”? The role of Koval in “Gambit, Part II” was custom-tailored for the 6-foor-9 Worthy, after actor Robert “Gowron” O’Reilly met him on a plane and put him up to it; he has only appeared on camera for two other “roles” other than playing himself.
A 1961 native of Gastionia, N.C.,Worthy played for the North Carolina Tar Heels and its national champion team his junior year (with Michael Jordan as a freshman), then turned pro to be drafted #1 in the 1982 NBA draft and spend seven seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers during its dynasty of the 1980s and three NBA championships. Retiring in 1994, the star dubbed “Big Game James” was named a seven-time NBA All-Star, one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players in 1996, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, and now runs his own Worthy Enterprises and acts as an NBA broadcast game analyst.
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