The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979)
This campy, disco infused cult classic isn’t necessarily a work of art—but any film that casts Julius Erving (a.k.a. Dr. J) opposite comedy legend Jonathan Winters can’t be all bad.
Cornbread Earl and Me (1975)
A young Laurence Fishburne (then billed as Larry) stars as the close friend of local basketball hero “Cornbread” (Jamaal Wilkes). Tragedy strikes when Cornbread is mistaken for a suspect in an assault crime. A dark drama that was arguably ahead of its time.
Space Jam (1996)
The improbable pairing of Michael Jordan at the height of his fame with beloved Warner Brothers cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck proved irresistible to kids—this critically panned film made over $300 million worldwide. It also was responsible for the R. Kelly anthem “I Believe I Can Fly”. Bill Murray manages to elevate the whole enterprise by simply playing himself.
Finding Forrester (2000)
Despite having the unfortunate distinction of being remembered as the film where screen legend Sean Connery uttered the line “You’re the man now dawg!”—this coming-of-age drama is still effective in telling the story of a brilliant young writer who just happens to be an exceptional basketball player.
Coach Carter (2005)
Samuel L. Jackson brings his prototypical no-nonsense style to the role of real life basketball coach Ken Carter, who infamously benched his undefeated high school team due to poor academic performance.
Above the Rim (1994)
This film about an up and coming player torn between a life of crime and a promising sports career (featuring the late Tupac Shakur), is probably best remembered for its hit soundtrack which included classic tracks by Dr. Dre and Warren G. Still, the film holds up as a quintessential piece of mid-90s urban cinema.
White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes made an unlikely duo in this fast-paced and sexy comedy about stylistically different ballers who hustle rubes in pick up games in the hood.
Glory Road (2006)
Perhaps no moment was more important in college basketball than Texas Western’s all-black starting line-up defeating Kentucky in 1966’s NCAA final. 2006’s Glory Road tells the story of this history-altering moment, which would desegregate college ball for good. Intense and wonderfully shot game action makes you forget this cast is largely unknown.
Gene Hackman anchors this sappy-but-beloved film loosely based on the true story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that unexpectedly won the state championship in 1954. The teams faces setback after setback and still manages to triumph in the inevitable albeit exciting showdown game.
He Got Game (1998)
Anyone who’s ever watched Spike Lee on the sidelines at a Knicks games knows the pint-sized director has a passion for basketball. But who knew NBA star Ray Allen could hold his own his own opposite Denzel Washington in this father-son drama about the perks and pitfalls of making the leap from high school to college basketball.
Love & Basketball (2000)
Black audiences have long embraced Gina Prince-Bythewood’s sports drama because it presented a real, credible romance and didn’t neglect to fully flesh out a female athlete’s desires and struggles in sports.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Not only is this acclaimed film quite possibly the best film ever made about basketball—it’s also one of the great documentaries of all time. Tracking the lives of two inner-city youths (William Gates and Arthur Agee) striving to rise through the ranks of competitive high school and later college basketball, this film shows just how arduous and difficult it is top make it the big time.
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Of all the major sports, basketball has arguably fared the worst on the big screen. For every beloved classic like 1986’s Academy Award nominated Hoosiers there’s at least a dozen critical and commercial flops: Air Bud, Eddie, The Air Up There, Juwanna Man and The Sixth Man just to name a few. Nevertheless, inspired by the latest entry in the b-ball sports film genre, Just Wright (starring Common and Queen Latifah), we’ve dug deep and come up with our favorite hoops flicks to date.