Need more drama? Check out top hoops flicks
Can’t get enough basketball? Or maybe you’re looking for a break from the intense action on the court with a little bit of scripted Hollywood drama.
Check out some of these top basketball-themed movies, from a 1970s comedy to an Oscar-nominated documentary to real-life tales about Ken Carter and Don Haskins.
“One on One” (1977) Small-town high school basketball star Henry Steele struggles when he moves to a university in a big city on a basketball scholarship. Steele becomes overwhelmed by his duties to the team and struggles academically because he never fully learned to read. His situation improves when he is assigned a pretty graduate student as his tutor.
“The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh” (1979) This 1979 film features the Pittsburgh Pythons, the NBA’s worst team. The players blame the poor play on the team’s star, Moses Guthrie, and walk out, leaving the squad to resort to astrology to fill out its roster. The team selects new players through open tryouts, with the requirement that all team members must be Pisces, the same Zodiac sign as Guthrie. The film features NBA legends Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“Hoosiers” (1986) Regarded as one of the best sports movies of all time, “Hoosiers” is based on a true story about a small-town high school basketball team that makes the state finals. Gene Hackman stars as coach Norman Dale, a coach with a checkered past who molds his team into contenders. The film also features Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper.
“White Men Can’t Jump” (1992) Billy Hoyle, played by Woody Harrelson, and Sidney Deane, played by Wesley Snipes, are basketball players who are good at hustling on their own, but when they join forces they find even more success. Hoyle needs to win to pay off gambling debts and Deane wants to earn more money to move his family to a better neighborhood. Rosie Perez also stars in the film.
“Hoop Dreams” (1994) This 1994 documentary, which was nominated for an Academy Award, follows two young inner-city Chicago basketball players — Arthur Agee and William Gates — through their high school careers. The movie chronicles the successes and tragedies that Agee and Gates endured throughout their quest to become basketball stars.
“The Air Up There” (1994) Assistant basketball coach Jimmy Dolan, played by Kevin Bacon, needs to land a top recruit to get promoted to head coach. To find his big star, Dolan travels deep into Africa to woo Saleh into moving to the U.S. to play on Dolan’s team. But Saleh, who is the chief’s son and therefore has duties within his tribe, is reluctant to leave.
“Blue Chips” (1994) College basketball coach Pete Bell, played by Nick Nolte, is pressured to attract big-name players to his school to build a winning program. But Bell faces a dilemma when his top recruits expect compensation for committing to his team, which is an NCAA violation. Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway also star in the film.
“Love and Basketball” (2000) From young next-door neighbors to high school classmates, Monica and Quincy enjoyed a friendship that involved a common goal of making it to the NBA. The two become a couple when they are both playing basketball at USC, but within a year they break up before being reunited again years later.
“Coach Carter” (2005) Based on a true story, “Coach Carter” chronicles Ken Carter’s quest to transform the boys’ basketball team at his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, Calif. Carter, who is also the owner of a sporting goods store, makes his team sign contracts that include promises for respectful behavior, a dress code and good grades as a must in order to participate on the team. After initial resistance, the players take to Carter’s rules and success on the court soon follows. But when the players begin to slack off in school, Carter follows through on his promise to not let them play, and locks the gym until the players’ grades improve. The move draws debate from the team, school and community.
“Glory Road” (2006) Based on a true story, “Glory Road” details the story of Texas Western basketball coach Don Haskins who recruited the best available talent in the country, black or white, to make up his 1965-66 squad. During a time when racism was high in the U.S., the team endures criticism and prejudices throughout the season, but puts all of it aside and comes together to win on the court. The team advances to the NCAA championship against powerhouse Kentucky, where Haskins makes history by starting the first all-black lineup.