The Best Basketball Films of All Time

April 8, 2021
Basketball is one of the most popular sports of all time, so it is little wonder that there are plenty of film tributes, both true life and fiction, that feature the great game.

The Last Dance is a Netflix docuseries that was well received by fans. With big names headed up by Michael Jordan, the audience is afforded a player’s eye view of life at the top of the NBA. Although sadly he is no longer with us following a helicopter crash, it is lovely to see a brief appearance from Kobe Bryant when he recalls how his relationship with Jordan was his driving force and inspiration.

If you are looking for some basketball films to binge on and you have come to the end of this series, so here are some of the best basketball films of all time. All you need to do is grab the snacks and drinks and settle down on the sofa with the remote control.

  1. White Men Can’t Jump

Starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, White Men Can’t Jump is a comedy that features our two leading actors hustling unsuspecting victims. Basically, it appears as if neither can play basketball; Billy Hoyle being a short white guy played by Harrison. The unsuspecting victims are unaware that he was a basketball star from his former college days. This hilarious romp sees them heading all over Los Angeles and scamming people out of money. Underneath that, there is a cute friendship theme about two people from vastly different backgrounds coming together to create a good living.

  1. Coach Carter

If big stars are your thing, then Samuel L Jackson is the perfect way to spend a couple of hours as you watch Coach Carter. This underdog tale focuses on rising against hardship and personal odds to achieve success. Jackson plays the coach who passes on the skills of the game to his team and wants to impart wisdom about life, morality, and the importance of education to his players. It is a delightful and heart-warming story set in Richmond, where there is little prospect for success and change.

  1. Blue Chips

It is always interesting when a director chooses to look at the dark side of their subject. The truth is that, sadly, college basketball can be an ugly and evil place. In this movie, Nick Nolte stars as Coach Pete Bell, who runs a tight ship and steers his team away from the illegal activities that others indulge in, to boost the team. He doesn’t figure a hard time in his plan, and when his program that was once so highly rated falls from grace, he must choose between sticking to his principles or engaging in the dark side to ensure that his team starts to win games again. He decides to change and become all that he once despised, and although it is a little bleak, it does have a valuable storyline that is entirely accurate when it comes to depicting the lousy side of college teams. If you think the play looks good on screen, that is because you are also watching former NBA stars Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, who both turned to acting and feature as players on the team.

  1. Space Jam

It is a classic, it is silly, and yet it still manages to be brilliant. All of your favourite Looney Toons combine forces with some of the biggest basketball stars of the time for an intergalactic match to save the world (of course!). It is very much of the era when cinematographers combined live action with cartoons and created these masterpieces, another being Who Framed Roger Rabbit. While technically this is a kids film, it is so good that many adults will admit this is a guilty pleasure for them too. It features Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Larry Johnson and Patrick Ewing, plus many others. Oh, and it also has a cracking soundtrack that cannot be missed.

  1. He Got Game

While this is a work of fiction, it has a very documentary feel about it. The story focuses on a father and son team, Jake and Jesus Shuttlesworth. The former is in prison and must convince his son that attending the alma mater for the state governor is a good idea. If he succeeds, he will receive a reduced sentence. The problem is father and son are estranged and have a strained relationship. Jake is portrayed brilliantly by Denzel Washington. When the one-on-one game is played to decide the pair’s future, it demonstrates that both actors have considerable ball skills. Jesus is a successful school basketball player who has definite prospects for moving to a higher level. This love of the game has been passed to him by his father, who was a professional player himself.

  1. Hoop Dreams

Inner-city teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee share the same dream of becoming professional basketball players. Although they are both from the Southside of Chicago, they have very different upbringings. Financial hardship means that Agee must go to public high school while Gates remains at a wealthy private school which is where they first met. There are several obstacles to overcome on that journey, and this often happens in unexpected ways. The difficulties these teens face include: dealing with parents who are drug addicts; serious injuries; bad grades; and deaths in the family.

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