Top 10 Basketball Movies
by Blog Admin on Apr 26, 2021
Watching basketball films is the only way most of us can enjoy the sport right now. These are best ones to check out.
The world of sports has basically been shut down by the Coronavirus pandemic. The NBA was the first league to postpone their season and since then, the world has been without basketball. Fans who love the game are doing their best to try and cope with the situation.
- The Basketball Diaries (46%)
Although 1995's The Basketball Diaries doesn't have sparkling reviews, it is absolutely worth a watch. For starters, it boasts a pretty fantastic cast including early performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg, who went on to be two of the top actors today.
In terms of sheer sports scenes, it doesn't measure up to some other entries on the list. However, the harrowing tale of how drugs affect the characters makes it an emotional journey. While critics didn't entirely love it, the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is a much better 76%.
- Above The Rim (53%)
Another film with mixed reviews from critics but a strong audience rating (83%) is 1994's Above the Rim. Part of what made this a financial success (grossing $16 million on a $6.5 million budget) was the inclusion of Tupac Shakur in a lead role at a time when he was the world's biggest rapper.
It centers on a talented basketball prospect (Duane Martin) torn between an introverted mentor figure (Leon Robinson) and his drug-dealing younger brother (Shakur). Not only is it a gripping drama, but the late tournament games are exciting from a basketball perspective.
- Glory Road (58%)
Set in 1966, Glory Road (2006) focused on the true story of Don Haskins and how he coached the first all-black starting lineup in NCAA basketball history. It does a delicate job in handling the severe issues of racism that the team faced as they rose to through the ranks.
Josh Lucas, Derek Luke, Jon Voight, Emily Deschanel, and others rounded out an impressive cast. Though the story was considered a bit formulaic, it still managed to be inspiring. Again, the audience loved this more than the critics, scoring an 81% rating with them.
- Coach Carter (65%)
If there's one thing that good sports films love, it's a hard-nosed coach. So, 2005's Coach Carter focused mostly on that character. It told the true story of Ken Carter (portrayed wonderfully by Samuel L. Jackson who suspended his undefeated high school team due to their poor academics. It's an interesting tale to tell, considering stories are often heard about coaches who don't care about grades as long as the team plays well. Coach Carter gave viewers an early look at stars such as Channing Tatum and Octavia Spencer before they broke through.
- Finding Forrester (74%)
Finding Forrester, released in 2000, is the first movie on the list to officially be certified as "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes. Like The Basketball Diaries, the sports aspect of this film isn't the most important part. Protagonist Jamal (Rob Brown) plays it, but the focus is on his writing.
Jamal ultimately forms an unexpected bond with William Forrester (Sean Connery), a reclusive writer who helps him come to terms with his own talent and his bond with his family. The chemistry between the leads was praised and it was compared favorably to Good Will Hunting.
- White Men Can't Jump (76%)
There aren't many basketball movies more iconic than 1992's White Men Can't Jump. The characters played by Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson remain legendary to this day, with NBA players Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison even dressing as them for Halloween.
The plot follows the two flawed streetball hustlers and their relationship as they go through highs and lows. The supporting performance from Rosie Perez is outstanding and the basketball scenes are always a treat. This is a film that expertly blends sports with the drama.
- He Got Game (81%)
Long before there was LeBron James' hilarious turn in Trainwreck or Kevin Garnett's fantastic work in Uncut Gems, there was Ray Allen in 1998's He Got Game. The future NBA Hall of Famer was still just a few years into his career when he took on this memorable role.
He played Jesus Shuttlesworth, the top-ranked basketball prospect in the nation. Just before picking his college, his father (played by Denzel Washington) is released from prison, where he was for killing his wife, and tries to get him to attend his alma mater. The drama between them was stellar.
- Love & Basketball (83%)
Easily the most romantic basketball movie ever made, the aptly titled Love & Basketball (2000) is a fan favorite. It centered around Quincy McCall (Omar Epps) and Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan), two athletes who had major dreams of playing professional basketball.
The two met as kids and the film saw them come in and out of each other's lives until adulthood. Injuries and other challenges get in their way. Though a beloved film, many have since noted that Quincy only ends up with Monica as a last option of sorts, dampening some of the romance.
- The Way Back (84%)
The most recent film on this list, The Way Back (2020) is another take on a story focused on a head coach. Ben Affleck, in one of the finer turns of his career, took on the role of Jack Cunningham. Though an alcoholic construction worker, he is asked to coach at his old high school.
Critics and audiences alike both thoroughly enjoyed this flick. The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says that the plot is mostly formulaic, but gets put over the top thanks to the stellar work from Affleck in the lead role.
- Hoosiers (89%)
1986's Hoosiers is synonymous with basketball. It follows a small-town team from Indiana (a state known for basketball) that pulls off the underdog move of winning the state championship. They're led by Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), a coach with a checkered past.
While it sounds like it's filled with overdone tropes of the genre, they were still mostly fresh at the time. It's a timeless film, made with care by everyone involved. Hoosiers was eventually selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.