Jesus Shuttlesworth famously said that basketball is “poetry in motion.” Court dramas of the underdog narratives aside, basketball is a sport that celebrates athleticism, power, and grace. True enough, basketball films remain to be a proud tradition in both the filmmaking and sports industries.
Here are the top basketball movies in no particular order that do not just entertain, but also empower the viewers.
5) Coach Carter (2005)
Samuel L. Jackson played the title role, Coach Carter. The movie tackled the sport and winning expectations, as well as academic integrity since it involved a high school basketball team. It was loosely based on the story of Ken Carter, coach to Richmond High School team. The coach was known for locking his unmotivated, ready-to-quit-any-time team members out of the game until their grades improved. Thus, the movie illustrated life’s dark realities, while taking coach responsibilities to the maximum level and teaching them what and how life outside the court should be.
4) Hoosiers (1986)
The David Anspaugh-directed flick was the quintessential must-watch basketball movie. It showed the sacrifices and struggles that a team has to face to win a coveted title. The most significant contribution of the film is that the players face the greatest battles of their lives, but they usually happened even before stepping on the court. Set in Indiana, which is the cradle of basketball then, the movie focused on the stories of Norman Dale, played by Gene Hackman, as the basketball coach and Jimmy Chitwood who was dubbed as the town’s best basketball player. It involved locker room and motivational speech scenes, which are classic to this type of films.
3) Blue Chips (1994)
The Orlando Magic drafted Penny Hardaway thanks to this movie. Head coach Pete Bell, played by Nick Nolte, was facing a losing season. He was forced to abandon his clean program because of the practices of college basketball recruiters, implementing illegal recruiting tactics as a resort. The heartwarming story was about the perpetual temptations that prospects face and the idea that NBA team managements toy around. The film featured several collegiate and NBA players to lend authenticity to the film.
2) White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
Set in Southern California, the movie is about street basketball. It features Woody Harrelson as Billy Hoyle and Wesley Snipes as Sidney Dean. Hoyle and Dean started as foes until they realized they could earn money by playing the sport. The movie is a tale of these hustlers who used basketball to get by; it’s survival not just in terms of sustenance but also against the backdrop of racial discrimination. The best part of the movie is all-too-real basketball scenes on the court and by the bench.
1) He Got Game (1998)
This is Shuttlesworth’s story played by Ray Allen. Exploring the father-son relationship, the film also showcased the acting prowess of Denzel Washington as Jake, Jesus’s strict and overbearing father. Jesus was the no. 1 prospect in the US, trying to decide where to take his game. The film also tackled the importance of playing sports in the US and dug deeper into the shady tactics of recruiting into big leagues.