Basketball is a highly famous sport, and every household has someone who is an avid fan of the NBA, a specific player, or just the game itself. Most movies related to basketball become a hit among moviegoers and basketball fans. This article breaks down the 19 Worth Watching Basketball Movies.
1. Hoop Dreams (1994)
English 2h 50m IMDb
Director: Steve James
Stars: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates
Hoop Dreams is a well-loved documentary that follows the lives of two African-American teenagers, Arthur Agee and William Gates. They both dreamt of being NBA players while attending a basketball-centered school of primarily white students.
What makes this film unique is how it documented their true-to-life struggles with racism, heartaches, pressures, and the beauty of dreaming of achieving and becoming something bigger than themselves. It depicts teenagers surpassing the expectations of those around them and not paying attention to the norm.
2. Coach Carter (2005)
English 2h 16m IMDb
Director: Thomas Carter
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, Robert Ri’chard
This is from a real-life incident in the life of a basketball coach named Ken Carter, played by the actor Samuel L. Jackson. The coach’s desire for his students to excel in basketball and their academics led to him suspending his school’s supposedly undefeated basketball team after seeing them flunk their classes.
It’s a refreshing take on the sports genre in which student-athletes push everything aside for the sport they are pursuing. The dedication that Coach Carter had in both the aspects of sports and academe showed the level of affection and attention he puts into his players.
3. Love and Basketball (2000)
English 2h 4m IMDb
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Stars: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Glenndon Chatman
Love and Basketball is a film for those who are into romance and sports. It covers the love story of two childhood friends, Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps).
They both share a love for the sport and aspire to become professional players. They stumble upon situations wherein they have to make a choice that could make or break the relationship they built.
This film is relatively mature, but it is a beautiful type of maturity that addresses the realities and struggles of loving someone while having a mindset on a life-long goal.
4. Space Jam (1996)
English 1h 28m IMDb
Director: Joe Pytka
Stars: Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight, Theresa Randle
Space Jam is a movie that many will say they’ve brought with them from childhood. It’s a mix of actual film and animation that might be a bit of a shock for modern moviegoers. It does not have much plot other than the Looney Tunes striving to win a basketball match and seeking out the basketball legend, Michael Jordan, for help.
The film is something you watch for a burst of basketball and animation enjoyment. If you’re a fan of Looney Tunes and the NBA, particularly MJ, you’ll surely bark out a laugh or two watching this fun movie.
5. Teen Wolf (1985)
English 1h 31m IMDb
Director: Rod Daniel
Stars: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Susan Ursitti
It’s a movie about Scott Howard, a teenager whose body undergoes drastic changes that makes him look and move like a wolf due to his lineage. His physique makes him excel in basketball and his love life as he manages to pursue Pamela Wells, his longtime crush.
It’s a good movie for those who want a healthy combination of comedy, sports, and romance. However, diving deeper into this movie’s message, it tackles more about a person’s insecurities and getting past them to become who they aspire to be.
6. He Got Game (1998)
English 2h 16m IMDb
Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Denzel Washington, Milla Jovovich, Ray Allen
This movie is for you if you want to witness some melodrama and shed a tear or two. It revolves around a father and son, Jake and Jesus Shuttleworth. Jake was in prison for accidentally killing his wife.
His son, Jesus (played by the famous Ray Allen), harbored resentment towards him. Jake accepts the offer of a shortened sentence if he could convince his rising basketball player of a son to attend the governor’s alma mater.
The film depicts the struggles of a family torn by fate. It shows a taxing road towards a dream packed with conflict and distractions.
7. Glory Road (2006)
English 1h 58m IMDb
Director: James Gartner
Stars: Josh Lucas, Derek Luke, Austin Nichols
The 1966 NCAA University Division Basketball Championship and all that happened before it was what the writers based this movie on. It’s an inspiring tale of a coach who created an all-black basketball team amidst the times when racial discrimination was nearly a constant.
The team ended up fighting for the championship against an opponent consisting of players who were all white.
The true-to-life story of these boys served as a massive inspiration at that time. In the middle of adversity, discrimination, and judgment, it is possible to reach heights they would never have thought they would achieve.
8. White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
English 1h 55m IMDb
Director: Ron Shelton
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez
This comedy/sports film features a cunning, white basketball player named Billy Hoyle, who manages to fool his black opponents into thinking he’s weak and eventually betting money against him. He befriends a black basketball player named Sidney Deane, and together they worm through Los Angeles while conning people out of their bucks.
Although it’s a supposed light comedy film, if you look at this movie from a different perspective, you’ll see that it tackles addiction. In this case, Billy’s addiction to money and earning it through his cons is a touchy subject that might lead to his demise.
9. Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975)
English 1h 35m IMDb
Director: Joseph Manduke
Stars: Moses Gunn, Rosalind Cash, Bernie Casey
This is one of the movies that can inspire a movement even to this very day. A black, rising basketball star in high school, Nathaniel “Cornbread” Hamilton, gets shot by the police due to a severe misinterpretation of the situation. His entire neighborhood then pursues the justice that he deserves.
It’s a heartbreaking film, seeing a teenager with so much potential being killed off mainly because of racial prejudices. It shows how much the African-American community receives mistreatment and that they will stand with each other to seek retribution in times of injustice.
10. Fast Break (1979)
English 1h 47m IMDb
Director: Jack Smight
Stars: Gabe Kaplan, Harold Sylvester, Michael Warren
A light-hearted comedy film is what Fast Break is. It’s a movie that you can enjoy with your family. This film revolves around the life of a deli owner, Gabe Kaplan, who dreams of being a basketball coach.
He accepts a small coaching job at a Nevada college to pursue this dream. On his way, he ends up building a team of hopeful kids. He then wades through the struggles that each person on his team is dealing with and those he is experiencing.
11. Finding Forrester (2000)
English 2h 16m IMDb
Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Sean Connery, Rob Brown, F. Murray Abraham
Finding Forrester is a tale of pure talent that stems from what others may consider an unexpected source. Jamal Wallace is an excellent basketball player who happens to be an equally fantastic writer, as discovered by the novelist William Forrester.
This beautiful film shows how much these two contrasting individuals influence each other towards a drastic change in themselves. Their differences as individuals do not hinder them from taking a step forward toward newer experiences. Together, they face the future as well as the daunting past.
12. The Basketball Diaries (1995)
English 1h 42m IMDb
Director: Scott Kalvert
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco, Marilyn Sokol
Some people may say Basketball Diaries is not for the faint of heart. It is quite heavy, not in the horrific type of way, but in the level of maturity, it portrays. The award-winning actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, plays the part of the main character, Jim Carroll.
The storyline focuses on his character, a rising basketball star who develops an addiction to drugs. It features him spiraling out of sobriety and jeopardizing his chances of ever going professional in basketball. It’s a bittersweet movie that showcases the temptations that can nudge you out of a path you’ve always thought of taking.
13. Sunset Park (1996)
English 1h 39m IMDb
Director: Steve Gomer
Stars: Rhea Perlman, Fredro Starr, Carol Kane
Sunset Park showcases a beautiful transformation of wasted potential into a known talent that could turn the tides of matches. It starts with a white basketball coach, Phyllis Saroka, who takes it upon herself to discipline the basketball team of a city high school.
The students were rough around the edges, and she had a lot on her plate. She was able to nurture every member of the team into better versions of themselves, and she even found herself changing in the process.
14. Air Bud (1997)
English 1h 38m IMDb
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Stars: Michael Jeter, Kevin Zegers, Wendy Makkena
Watching this movie is like a breath of fresh air, especially for dog lovers. It’s a comedy film based on a real-life Golden Retriever who can play basketball. The dog is the pet of a high-schooler who struggled with his father’s death.
The discovery of his dog’s abilities to play the game sparked his interest and turned his life around. It’s fun and games until Air Bud’s previous owner decides to take him back. That aside, Air Bud is an entertaining movie to watch with kids as it showcases the love a child can have towards a pet.
15. Above the Rim (1994)
English 1h 36m IMDb
Director: Jeff Pollack
Stars: Duane Martin, Tupac Shakur, Leon
Something is exciting about watching a movie that demonstrates a main character’s internal conflicts. This is precisely what Above the Rim delivers to the table. The main character, Duane Martin, has built a relationship with two brothers.
One of these brothers is a drug dealer, and the other is an ex-basketball player. As someone who is a rising basketball star himself, Duane finds himself struggling with deciding which of these brothers’ teams he should be playing for. He decides, and it all kind of went downhill after that.
16. Hoosiers (1986)
English 1h 54m IMDb
Director: David Anspaugh
Stars: Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Hopper
Hoosiers is a movie about a coach who desperately tries to keep his assigned basketball team from plunging into defeat after their star basketball player leaves to focus on his academics. Norman Dale experiences a lot of hiccups as he coaches the team.
His players don’t listen to his tactics, and he has an alcoholic for an assistant coach. Despite that, they eventually found a balance between themselves and pushed on to win the state championship. It’s a classic film that depicts the “never give up” mindset of athletes and coaches alike.
17. Like Mike (2002)
English 1h 39m IMDb
Director: John Schultz
Stars: Shad Moss, Jonathan Lipnicki, Morris Chestnut
As the title entails, it is a movie portraying a kid inspired by the basketball legend Michael Jordan. A 13-year-old, Calvin Cambridge, finds a pair of sneakers that MJ previously owned. It’s one of those films that tackle the insecurities and challenges that a child encounters while pursuing a dream that seems impossible to reach.
Calvin knew he lacked physique and technique and yet went on to become a basketball star himself. His sheer dedication made this leap to excellence a possibility. Like Mike is a movie that young dreamers can draw inspiration from.
18. The Way Back (2020)
English 1h 48m IMDb
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Stars: Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Janina Gavankar
This movie depicts a man finding his way back to the sport he suddenly turned his back on without explanation. In his glory days, Jake Cunningham was a phenomenal basketball player who brought pride to his high school.
However, he suddenly quit playing the game without giving any reason. Years later, he becomes addicted to alcohol. This addiction ends up leaving his life in shambles. The light at the end of his dark tunnel was the job offer he got from his alma mater. He is offered a coaching job that ended up turning his life back around.
19. The Sixth Man (1997)
English 1h 47m IMDb
Director: Randall Miller
Stars: Marlon Wayans, Kadeem Hardison, David Paymer
This movie is one for the books. Unlike the basketball movies on this list with heavy plots and some drama, the Sixth Man brings some fantasy and comedy to the table. It features a basketball superstar, Kenny Tyler, who died after suffering a heart attack while playing.
He comes back to the world of the living as a ghost who does his best to help his little brother, Antoine Tyler, win the basketball championship for their school, the University of Washington. This fun-filled film sticks to its title of having the ghost as the “sixth man” of the team.
Basketball is a well-loved sport around the world. Many movies were made to bank on the people’s love for it. With this, basketball movies have become a staple on the big screen. They also tapped into the hearts of fans. This article talks about 19 of the Best Basketball Movies.