It’s a big month for basketball. Between March Madness, the NBA in progress, and HBO’s limited hit series, Winning time, basketball seems to be everywhere. Whether you are a fan of the game or not, there is always something to enjoy about the subject. Here is a list of 13 all time great movies about basketball that are entertaining at any time of the year.
13. Fast Break (1979)
Some dream of becoming a basketball player, but David Greene (Gabe Kaplan) dreams of becoming a college basketball coach. When he gets the offer of his life, he leaves his marriage and his life in New York City and goes to rural Nevada. He is being offered a deal that if he can muster a team to beat Nevada State in the championship, he will get the coaching offer he dreams of. The film itself is a bit outdated, but it is a clear sports film formula that will work for many decades to come. And the charm of Kaplan is simply undeniable.
12. Glory Road (2006)
Based on the autobiography of the same name, Josh Lucas stars like Don Haskins, who was hired to coach the Texas Western College (now UTEP) basketball team in 1966. Haskins made history by recruiting players based on skills rather than their race and making headlines using a starting lineup with all black players. Derek Luke, Mechad Brooksand Jon Voight also star in this feel-good Disney movie.
11. Finding Forrester (2000)
The story of the basketball phenomenon Jamal (Rob Brown) becomes friends with the infamous hermit, William Forrester (Sean Connery). As Forrester begins guiding Jamal to his college courses, Jamal’s professor (F. Murray Abraham) suspects he is plagiarizing. The college accepts that if Jamal helps the basketball team win the state championship, they will dismiss the charges. The film focuses more on the friendship between Forrester and Jamal, but basketball is a fine backdrop to the story.
10. He Got Game (1998)
Jake (Denzel Washington) is serving time in Attica prison as the governor gives him a temporary probation to try to convince his son Jesus (Ray Allen) to sign with Big State University. Jesus is a basketball star and the governor would love to see him play for his former school. Jesus and Jake do not have a good relationship as Jake was very strict in coaching Jesus. Their conflict often led to quarrels, one of which ended with Jake accidentally killing Jesus’ mother. This is a great film about forgiveness and acceptance, as well as a study of race and family sacrifice.
9. The Way Back (2020)
Jack (Ben Affleck) drinks his life away as a way to deal with his grief over the loss of his son. He is offered a job coaching basketball at his former high school, which helps in more ways than one. Together with his assistant coach, Dan (Al Madrigal), and his supportive wife, Angela (Janina Gavankar), there may just be hope for Jack yet. It is not until he really hits rock bottom that his job and his life fall back into danger. A beautiful story of anguish and redemption and an often unnoticed and underestimated performance by Affleck.
8. Above the Rim (1994)
1994s Over the edges stars Tupac Shakur as Birdie, who runs a street basketball tournament in Brooklyn. The best neighborhood player, Kyle (Duane Martin), struggling to play for Birdie or for a local famous coach (David Bailey), which would help him get into Georgetown’s basketball program. Under the watchful eye of his brother, Shep (Leon), Kyle is forced to make the right decision for his future while not making Birdie angry so much that it becomes violent. The film’s soundtrack received double platinum, and it contained the now classic “Regulate” by Warren G offers Nate Dogg.
Coach Carter (2005)
Samuel L. Jackson stars in this movie based on the true story of Ken Carter determined to make academics as important as basketball to his team. His decision to prioritize things other than basketball encounters him on the school administration as well as some players. But with external threats seemingly never ending, the team gathers to realize the importance of being well-rounded and getting their education as well as playing better basketball.
6. Space Jam (1996)
When a foreign capitalist amusement park owner (Danny DeVito) decides he wants to use Looney Tunes as an attraction, he comes to Earth and challenges them to a basketball game. His henchmen live in five NBA stars to outsmart them while Looney Tunes recruits Michael Jordan, who has recently retired to try his hand at baseball. During the course of the game, Looney Tunes decides to “get shit” and bring in Bill Murray (plays himself) as the 12th man off the bench to save the day as well as get Michael Jordan back to basketball! The film spawned a sequel / reboot in 2021 starring LeBron James. It was not nearly as successful.
5. Air Bud (1997)
If you love movies about dogs and their ties to children overcoming evil adults, this is the movie for you. Oh, and also? The dog plays basketball. Mock if you will, but this heartwarming film from 1997 is a classic basketball tale that can bring an entire generation to tears in an instant. Michael Jeter stars like Snively, Buddy’s evil owner, like young Josh (Kevin Zegers) trying to keep Buddy away from. That may be a silly premise, but it will shake all the right heartbeats when you see the love between a boy and his dog.
4. Love and Basketball (2000)
ONE Spike Lee joint that tells the story of two childhood friends Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps). Both are big basketball stars and both are trying to use their abilities to get into college. The story takes a look at their lives through four quarters (like a basketball game) from childhood and all the way past college. The movie and soundtrack are loved by many and Gina Prince-Bythewood won an Independent Spirit Award for best first screenplay.
3. White men can not jump (1992)
A story about street basketball hustlers, White men can not jump stars Wesley Snipes as the South, which seems invincible on the field. Coming with Billy (Woody Harrelson), who somehow beats him twice. When Syd finds out Billy and his girlfriend, Gloria (Rosie Perez), are hustlers, they decide to team up to make some serious money, but at the expense of what? A great story about the importance of friendship and all that can be achieved by playing a simple game of basketball.
2. Hoop Dreams (1994)
One of the best sports documentaries ever, Hoop dreams takes a look at two players, William Porte and Arthur Agee. Two Chicago players from Chicago are being recruited to a predominantly white high school to get a better chance at a career in the sport. The documentary takes an in-depth look at these two young men and the adversity they must face to try to get a career. Despite its rave reviews, it was rejected by the Oscars, forcing the academy to re-evaluate its voting system. Even nearly 30 years later, it is still a telling tale of the school system and athletic programs in the United States
1. Hoosiers (1986)
The timeless story of David vs. Goliath comes to light here in a story about an Indian basketball team in the countryside making it to the state championships. When Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) is employed to coach a high school team, the small townspeople are up in arms about his methods. But when a quiet, withdrawn basketball phenomenon Jimmy (Maris Valainis) step in, and together they take the unlikely team to the state title fight in Indianapolis. Through the process, he stays close to the boys on the team, loves the skeptical city people and manages to fall in love. No matter how many times you watch, it’s hard not to get chills in the final scene when Jimmy utters these three epic words to coach Dale: “I can handle it.”
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