We all watch movies, and which is the “best” is a matter of opinion really. Here are the top 10 basketball movies of all time. Don’t forget to check out other lists throughout Thought for Your Penny.
10. Blue Chips (1994) 37% at Rotten Tomatoes
College basketball has notoriously stringent recruitment rules, all of which are broken when coach Pete Bell needs to compete with the big boys. He’s not cheating to get a leg up – he’s doing it to stay on the same ground as everyone else cheating. Catch NBA legends like Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal transitioning into on-camera work.
Director: William Friedkin
Starring: Nick Nolte, J.T. Walsh, Mary McDonnell
9. Teen Wolf (1985) 47% at Rotten Tomatoes
Long before it was an MTV show resembling Twilight, Teen Wolf was a quintessential 80s movie. A high school student discovers he’s from a family a werewolves and soon starts using his wolf powers to excel in basketball. He becomes the team’s star player, gains popularity, and learns the trials and tribulations of such a fast rise up the social ladder.
Director: Rod Daniel
Starring: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Susan Ursitti
8. O (2001) 64% at Rotten Tomatoes
This modern-day remake of Shakespeare’s classic play “Othello,” centers around basketball players in an upper class prep school. Odin is the star player, but the coach’s son Hugo is hell-bent on destroying him. Love, betrayal, murder, and all the elements of the original are present in this high school setting.
Director: Tim Blake Nelson
Starring: Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, Josh Hartnett
7. Coach Carter (2005) 65% at Rotten Tomatoes
Athletes tend to get a pass in academics, especially when they’re winning. Coach Ken Carter doesn’t believe in this and benches his entire team for breaking their academic contract. This doesn’t make the town happy, and he takes a lot of heat for the decision. However, it’s meant to teach the boys a lesson most of them learn.
Director: Thomas Carter
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, Robert Ri’chard
6. Love & Basketball (2000) 82% at Rotten Tomatoes
Monica and Quincy grew up together and always shared a love of basketball. As they get into college and eventually go pro, things get harder. Their loving friendship endures a tumultuous romance, career difficulties, and all the twists and turns of life. And they never stop loving playing basketball with each other.
Director: Gina Prince-Blythewood
Starring: Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan, Glenndon Chatman
5. Celtic Pride (1996) 9% at Rotten Tomatoes
Sports fans in general are a bit over-the-top in their loyalty. Athletes in some countries are killed by fans for failing to perform in clutch moments. Celtic fans Mike and Jimmy take things further by kidnapping the star player of the opposing Utah Jazz to ensure Boston wins the championship.
Director: Tom DeCerchio
Starring: Damon Wayans, Daniel Stern, Dan Aykroyd
4. Above the Rim (1994) 53% at Rotten Tomatoes
Basketball is often seen as a way out of the hood by inner city black kids. Kyle Lee Watson works hard to be the best, but his dealings with drug dealer Birdie can end everything. Birdie’s brother Shep is a once-great player too. Now he’s working ad a janitor and dating Kyle’s mom, much to Kyle’s chagrin.
Director: Jeff Pollack
Starring: Duane Martin, Leon, Tupac Shakur
3. Glory Road (2006) 56% at Rotten Tomatoes
Although decent white basketball players have been rare for as long as you’ve been alive, back in 1966, coach Don Haskins found himself with the first all-black starting roster in the NCAA. He manages to lead them through the NCAA national championship, despite everything being rigged against them.
Director: James Gartner
Starring: Josh Lucas, Derek Luke, Austin Nichols
2. White Men Can’t Jump (1992) 76% at Rotten Tomatoes
Sidney and Billy are street basketball hustlers who are forced to work together. Of course, they’re not happy about this, since they’ve both managed to hustle each other. Money talks on the streets, and they’ll do what they must to provide for their respective families. White men can’t jump, but Billy is still a great player who has what it takes to win a street tournament when it counts.
Director: Ron Shelton
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez
1. He Got Game (1998) 80% at Rotten Tomatoes
He Got Game is even more relevant in a post-LaVar Ball world. Jesus Shuttleworth is the top-ranked basketball prospect in the country, and his dad Jake is in prison for killing his mom. He’s released from Attica for a week by the governor to convince his son to play for Big State. If he can do it, he’ll be paroled early, but it’s not going to be easy.
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Denzel Washington, Milla Jovovich, Ray Allen