The 10 best basketball movies of all time
Say what you will, but there’s no such thing as Basketball and that’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the greatest hoop-inspired movies ever made. Enjoy!
Basketball movies are special
If we’re all being honest, nothing beats a good old-fashioned sports movie. Regardless of the sport itself, there is something magical and inspiring about the way a sport – any sport in fact – can motivate us to be more than we or anyone else is. another thought we could be. That said, there are sports and times that offer this possibility in ways that others cannot. Enter basketball. From ‘Looney Tunes’ at the thought that “White men can’t jump” there are tons of movies out there that showcase Hoop Dreams and how they can lead to greatness. Now that that’s established, join us for some of the best basketball movies of all time:
With the Celtics having just found out for themselves in the 2022 NBA Finals, it seems only fitting that we start with this one. Sure, the Boys in Green from Boston couldn’t win the trophy, but rest assured, their pride and courage will never be in question, even more so if you take a look at this 1996 film. Starring Daniel Stern and Damon Wayans and the notoriously funny Dan Aykroyd, the comedy co-written by Judd Apatow and Colin Quinn focuses on a pair of Celtics stalwarts who would basically die for the team. Faced with Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, Jimmy (Dan Aykroyd) and Mike (Daniel Stern) decide to kidnap the Jazz’s best player, Lewis Scott (Damon Wayans). Needless to say, things only get crazier from there, but rest assured, this is a comedic look at what the game means to fans and gamers alike.
Released in 2002, the film is full of NBA stars and their cameo appearances. The story of an orphan in search of a father introduces us to the protagonist played by a young Calvin Cambridge – most will know him as Lil Bow Wow – who just found an abandoned pair of sneakers with the initials MJ on them. After putting them on, the Cambridge character finds he can “go head-to-head” with the best of them. In the end, what ensues is a moving look at the issues young players can face as they navigate their way into the professional game.
Compared to the other entries on this list, the 1995 film directed by the late Scott Kalvert is perhaps the darkest of them all. Rather than offering a motivating and uplifting look at how sport can bridge racial divides or offer a way out of economic and social misery, the film tackles a much more difficult subject, namely how talent can fall prey of those in power. the keys to opportunity. Leonardo DiCaprio’s titular character is never quite believable as a baller, but it has to be said that was the intent of Jim Carroll’s memoir on which the story was based. Instead, we come away with an exploration of how a young talent can quickly fall victim to the promise of more. Sexually abused by his trainer and a subsequent drug addiction to compensate, DiCaprio’s powerful performance provides an all-too-real glimpse of what happens when a shining star burns too quickly.
above the edge
Considered “new age” in its time, the film offered a slightly more glamorous and fast-paced look at basketball. Indeed, with the title telling you exactly what you were getting yourself into, the 1994 film gave us a good look at the visceral movement and experience that is basketball dunking. In keeping with this, the story follows a hot street baller named Kyle (Duan Martin) whose integration into the structured world of high school basketball is made more difficult by his head coach and scouts who want him to play a specific way. Kyle’s journey, while selfish, only gets complicated when he goes too deep with a Harlem drug dealer played by the late Tupac Shakur. With additional appearances from Marlon Wayans and Bernie Mac, this one is definitely worth watching as it paints a picture of the game and the young people who play it that is both exhilarating and chilling.
Although he didn’t need any help, it could be argued that this movie helped Michael Jordan be bigger than he already was. Aside from a hit song from the soundtrack, the 1996 box office hit featured a long list of the biggest stars in the NBA at the time. With a mix of animation and live action, basketball’s biggest and best came together with iconic characters from Warner Brother’s “Looney Tunes” to take on the “MonStars”, who were naturally the versions evil aliens from the NBA’s greatest. Needless to say, aliens learn a valuable lesson: never mess with the goat.
Considered one of the most “serious” on our list, this 1986 Indiana-based film will forever be considered the quintessential basketball movie. Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) rubs people the wrong way as Hickory’s new basketball coach instilling the fundamentals of the game. Meanwhile, the small town’s best player, Jimmy Chitwood, refuses to play in at first before finally agreeing on the condition that the aforementioned Dale remain the coach. What follows is an inspiring march of seven young men to a title. Indeed, many will vouch for the fact that it was this film that laid the groundwork for the cliched — not in a bad way — of a coach’s pep talk.
He has game
Directed by the always provocative Spike Lee, the movie is perhaps more of an exploration of the pitfalls of being a promising athlete than just a movie about basketball. Former NBA star Ray Allen takes on the role of Coney Island prodigy Jesus Shuttlesworth, who is on his way to becoming the nation’s No. 1 high school pick. Jhe is legendary Denzel Washington plays Jesus’ overbearing father, Jake, who was granted parole by the state governor in exchange for convincing his son to perform for the state. It’s an emotional ride to say the least.
A film considered by many to be the “Remember the Titans” of basketball, Coach Carter – based on the true story of Ken Carter – fully embraces the energy that Samuel L. Jackson brings to the screen. At least dictatorial, Carter takes charge of an unmotivated team and changes its entire culture with strict rules and regulations. Indeed, it was the real Carter who banned his 1999 Richmond High School team from playing until every member of the team saw their grades improve. The film tackles the ever-controversial topic of how much leeway schools give their star athletes and why they shouldn’t. What we finally see is an uplifting and heartfelt look at why discipline is perhaps the most important factor in any business.
Although many remember it as the first time they heard the now belated but famous Israel Kamakawiwoʻole interpretation of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, the thing is, at the heart of the movie is perhaps one of the best basketball-related movies of all time. Jamal (Rob Brown) is a prodigy in the making in the field, but he is also something much more, that is to say, an up-and-coming writer. Soon, Jamal finds himself in an unlikely friendship with a reclusive neighbor, who turns out to be a famous Scottish novelist played by none other than Sean Connery himself. What follows is a closer examination of the idea that a baller can be more than just a toughhead with athletic prowess. Prepare the tissues for this one, but also be ready to walk away with a smile.
The newest on this list, the 2022 offering of Adam Sandler, hits you where you needed it, while making you regret having done it. Although he doesn’t pretend to embrace the old clichés of the sports film genre, Sandler is unlucky “Stanley Sugerman” is entirely believable, as is the foreign perspective played by Juancho Hernangomez, whom he guides to the NBA and more in our hearts. The story is definitely worth considering because it shows all too well what can happen when you just don’t give up.