My Top 10 Basketball Films Ranked
This is all opinion, I did not take a poll or research what movies did the best numbers. These are my top 10 hooping movies in order. The best way to help you understand why I’ve ranked these the way I have is by giving you the characteristics a good sports film should have.
Obviously a film about basketball will immediately catch my attention because of my love and passion for the game, but other elements I search for are: some sort of love story, humor, a tragedy that leads to a victory in the end, a theme that remains steady throughout and a story that inspires and motivates its viewers. All of these don’t have to be in the same movie for it work for me, but I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.
Now you know my guidelines, let's get into these rankings:
1. Love & Basketball —Wow. What can I say about this movie? It made me search for a girl that could hoop! My wife isn’t a hooper to her core like me, but she is an athlete. The story of Monica Wright and Quincy McCall was special. The movie had the perfect amount of basketball to love ratio. I think it did an incredible job tying together the love of the game with love and romance in an actual relationship. It’s a classic movie that I own on DVD and watch at least every few months. It’ll forever be #1 for me.
2. Above the Rim —I have to ashamedly admit that I didn’t see this movie until I was in college on a long basketball road trip. This classic 90’s movie tells the story of a local, promising high school hoops star with a bad attitude who has to make some tough decisions, as he gets involved with some guys from the streets. This is a short description of how great this movie was. It has the perfect mixture of basketball and crime/drama. The movie star Duane Martin, who looks like he can actually hoop, Tupac Shakur, Marlon Wayans, and Leon Robinson; an all-star cast about basketball with a somewhat corny script. An instant classic.
3. He Got Game —NBA Hall of Famer, Ray Allen played the role of Jesus Shuttlesworth in this 1998 sports drama. His performance was good but what made this movie one of the G.O.A.T’s was Mr. Denzel Washington. This is not my favorite movie all-time, but the storyline kept viewers, well me at least, engaged to the very end. There was also REAL basketball being played. Ray Allen isn’t a good actor, but he’s an incredible player. I was disappointed with the ending so that’s why this is going towards the bottom. But, has Denzel made anything that wasn’t good?
4. White Men Can’t Jump —I wasn’t even born when this movie hit the theaters which is funny, but it still makes my top 10. I love watching Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes hustle dudes on the court for their money. The comedy-drama is truly a classic equipped with retro short shorts, reebok pumps, gold chains, and backward hats kind of basketball. I thought most white guys couldn’t jump until one of my teammates in Europe, Dakota Zinser showed me otherwise.
5. Coach Carter —Samuel L. Jackson should’ve won an Academy for this performance. The movie was based on the Richmond Basketball team’s (California, not VA) quest to a championship, but more importantly, perusal and collective maturity. Coach Ken Carter is a real person and was personally responsible for saving the lives of many students by teaching them values on and off the court. This movie is one of the greatest stories ever told.
6. Hoop Dreams —Another documentary that impacted how I viewed the game. The doc followed the life and careers of Arthur Agee and William Gates, two inner-city Chicago, young African American men on a quest to make it to the NBA. They both had to overcome a plethora of battles, but their stories differ greatly. 2 hours and 55 minutes of pure basketball. I think every young hooper desiring to make it to the league could relate to this film in some way. I learned some valuable lessons from this documentary. Watch it. It’s quality.
7. The 6th Man —This 1997 Comedy is essentially about a ghost haunting a college basketball. There’s much more to the story but I’m willing to bet most won’t know anything about this flick, so go watch it. No, but actually Kadeem Hardison and Marlon Wayans play a star duo for the University of Washington. It’s a comedy mixed with tragedy and again, A LOT OF BASKETBALL. I own it on VHS. Does anyone have a VCR?
8. Glory Road—I struggled to put this one in the top 10. It was either this or Hoosiers, but I low-key haven’t seen Hoosier in so long I don’t really remember it. This Disney movie is another “based on true events,” story and they did it very well. Coach Don Haskins changed the game of basketball, building his team on talent instead of race. He went against the grain and battled racial tensions, but ultimately won. For this reason, it is worthy of the top 10 rankings.
9. Through the Fire —This documentary wasn’t a legitimate movie but it makes the list because of the impact it had on me. I watched this as I was coming into my own as a basketball player. Sebastian Telfair was one of the best players in the country during his high school years. Unfortunately, it didn’t transition to his professional career, but he’ll always be hoop legend in NY. This documentary made me dream. I would watch it on repeat, imagining my own transcendence from middle school athlete to high school phenom. We all gotta dream, right?
10. Space Jam —I’m not sure if I need to elaborate. It’s the classic of all classics. Looney Tunes and Michael Jordan. I still have a crush on Lola Bunny. As much as I love LeBron James I’m skeptical that Space Jam 2 will be as good or better than its predecessor. We’ll see.
Honorable Mention: Hoosiers, Air Bud, Double Teamed, Like Mike, Crossover.