Greatest basketball Movies All Time

10. Sunset Park

Year released: 1996
Director: Steve Gomer
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Sunset Park, what time is it? It's time to get live, it's time to represent! Every junior high and high school team sung this in the huddle back in the late '90s. Starring Rhea Perlmen, Fredro Starr, and a then-unknown Terrance Howard, Sunset Park is about a high school varsity team filled with misfits looking for meaning. When new coach, Phyllis Saroka, a woman, takes over the team the kids give her a hard time but they eventually inspire each other and turn into a family. It gives an interesting look at the locker room dynamic and the parental role a coach must assume for inner city kids.

9. Space Jam

Year released: 1996
Director: Joe Pytka
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Talk to anyone who grew up in the '90s, and it's likely that they'll cite Space Jam as one of their favorite childhood movies. There are too many reasons to love this film: the presence of the NBA's greatest superstar in combination with cartoon legends, the epic final game between the Monstars and the Toon Squad, and, of course, the unforgettable opening track by Quad City DJs. Space Jam was an enjoyable basketball movie that never took itself too seriously from start to finish, always privileging fun over fact. 

8. Glory Road

Year released: 2006
Director: James Gartner
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Telling the story of the first all-black starting lineup in college basketball history, Glory Road stars Josh Lucas as coach Don Haskins, a real-life figure who led UTEP (formerly Texas Western College) to a national championship during the 1965-66 season. Basing his team around skill and not skin color, Haskins is able to mold a roster of young stars and take them all the way to the top, downing Kentucky and the legendary Adolph Rupp in the process. Well-acted and historically significant, Glory Road shows us how much has changed in the past half-century of basketball by celebrating the pioneers who forever altered the way the game was played.

7. Love & Basketball

Year released: 2000
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
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Starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, Love & Basketball brings romance to the hardwood, as it explores all the difficulties of two athletes trying to make it playing basketball at USC, while also caring for each other. More than anything, Love & Basketball is about how our passion for one pursuit can often blind us in the search for life's greater joys.

6. Blue Chips

Year released: 1994
Director: William Friedkin
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This movie was the reason Orlando drafted Penny Hardaway. While filming, he and Shaq became close, O'Neal then went to the Magic front office and requested that they draft Hardaway. Nick Nolte plays head coach Pete Bell at national powerhouse Western University. He's used to recruiting by the rules but the new landscape of college basketball polluted by big money boosters and agents with empty promises forces him to break them. Penny and Shaq make their acting debuts and the film features a bunch of college and NBA players, coaches, and media personalities to add authenticity to the action on the court.


5. Above the Rim

Year released: 1994
Director: Jeff Pollack
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A cast featuring Duane Martin, Marlon Wayans, Bernie Mac, Wood Harris, Leon, and Tupac Shakur, Above the Rim tackles the obstacles a star high school player faces in the streets of New York. Like his role in Juice, Shakur turns in a villainous role as Birdie, a neighborhood pusher that seduces Martin's character Kyle Lee Watson with money, clothes, and girls.

4. Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault

Year released: 1996
Director: Eriq La Salle
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Earl Manigault could've been a Hall of Famer. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he was the greatest player he'd ever seen. Rebound starring Don Cheadle as "The Goat," tells the story of the New York playground legend. He loved basketball but he loved drugs more. The film follows Manigault from his dominance on NYC basketball courts to his downfall into the world of hard drugs to his resurrection as a pillar in his community. This is a must watch for any historian of the game.

3. White Men Can't Jump

Year released: 1992
Director: Ron Shelton
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Billy Hoyle and Sidney Dean let America get a glimpse of real street basketball. Set in Southern California, White Men Can't Jump tells the tale of two street hustlers just trying to get by playing the game they love. Featuring a deep cast including Rosie Perez, Kadeem Hardison, and former NBA player Marques Johnson, this movie is a classic comedy centered around Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) and Dean (Wesley Snipes) as they play pick-up games for money in order to survive. These guys can actually play too. Every game is entertaining and some will even have you on the edge of your seat as if it were a close NBA game.

2. Hoosiers

Year released: 1986
Director: David Anspaugh
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Regardless of the sport, Hoosiers can lay claim to being one of the greatest sports movies of all time. Set in one of basketball's cradle states, the film tells the story of a small town in Indiana and how its high school goes on to win a state title against all odds. Featuring a stunning performance by Gene Hackman in a starring role as the team's coach, Hoosiers is richly detailed and real to life, as it spares no expense in making sure that every obstacle that the team must overcome is examined. Whether it's overbearing parents, gossip, or otherwise, Hoosiers shows how our greatest battles in sports often happen before we even step foot on the court.

1. He Got Game

Year released: 1998
Director: Spike Lee
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Since its release, Spike Lee's classic film, He Got Game has stood out as one of Lee's strongest joints. Telling the story of Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) and his strict father, Jake (Denzel Washington), the film follows Jesus—the No. 1 high school prospect in the nation—as he tries to decide where to play big-time basketball without anyone reliable to guide him through the process. He Got Game isn't afraid to tread into the shadier territories of recruiting, father-son relationships, and the importance of athletics in America as we see Jesus constantly at odds with those trying to influence him one way or another.

Is it a tad long? Sure. But like any of Lee's films, it loves to focus and harp on the themes of the film in a way that will allow everyone to connect with the larger stakes at work. He Got Game isn't just about basketball, it's about life.


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