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What Are the 10 Most Popular Basketball Movies?

10 Most Popular Basketball Movies

Top 10 Basketball Movies

  1. He Got Game
  2. Hoosiers
  3. Hoop Dreams
  4. Space Jam
  5. Above The Rim
  6. White Men Can’t Jump
  7. Coach Carter
  8. Air
  9. Blue Chips
  10. Glory Road

1. He Got Game

He Got Game is a 1990s cult classic film that is about a popular high school basketball prospect and his father, who is incarcerated. The boy’s father is given one week to convince his son to attend the state governor’s alma mater in exchange for a shorter prison sentence.

This film portrays the raw emotions of discourse between family members and how basketball brings them together. The raw footage at the end of the film is often cited as a big reason why this film feels so authentic to viewers. As well as the fact that the sport of basketball is something that brings two people closer together through all the hardships that they have gone through during their lives.

2. Hoosiers

The story of Hoosiers embodies the story of the underdog basketball team and how hard work and unity can truly make a difference. Hoosiers makes viewers feel hopeful and excited because of how the story of the underdog persevering and succeeding unfolds during the film. This movie involves the rundown team working towards the championship game against the classic team that is much more skilled than them at the start.

This film story is loosely based on the story of the 1954 Milan High School basketball team that won the state championship. Fans of basketball look to this movie to witness how your hard work playing a sport you love can truly pay off and be worth it in the end. This film also focuses on the importance of unity and teamwork within the team because without it the team would be unable to grow.

3. Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams is a wildly popular documentary that premiered in 1994 about two inner-city teenagers from the South side of Chicago. These two teenagers have dreams of making it to the National Basketball Association world and making names for themselves. One of the boys begins to attend a wealthy private school while the other must stay in the local public school, which helps highlight the importance of how wealth is a deciding factor in determining someone’s future.

Both boys deal with tough situations throughout the documentary that greatly impact their lives. However, their love for basketball keeps them going throughout all the hardships. This documentary often causes a visceral reaction due to its gut-wrenching realism. Hoop Dreams gives a real look into the lives of teens living in poverty with dreams of becoming superstar professional athletes and what it takes to get where they want to be.

4. Space Jam

Space Jam is a true basketball fan cult classic among people of all ages for its fun nature and classic cartoon characters. One of the most iconic basketball legends in the National Basketball Association, Michael Jordan, stars alongside the Looney Tunes characters for one whacky basketball adventure.

The movie mimics what truly happened to Michael Jordan during his 1999 retirement from the NBA and his 1995 comeback into the basketball world. This movie, however, also provides comic relief and allows fans to see a different side of Michael Jordan. Although most of the basketball in this movie is animated, fans still love to see the dunks, dribbles, and passes throughout the movie, and to watch their favorite basketball icon take on a completely new role off of the court.

5. Above The Rim

Above The Rim came out in 1994 and was a box office smash thanks to it being filled with major celebrities such as Tupac Shakur, Leon Robinson, and Marlon Wayans. The movie tells the story of a high school basketball star and his relationship with a former basketball star and drug dealer who is now employed as a security guard in the high school where he was promised stardom at a young age many years ago.

Above The Rim was set and shot in Harlem, New York, and the high school was located in Brooklyn, New York. This movie provides an inspiring and dramatic storyline of a boy who loves basketball but is met with many challenges during the film.

6. White Men Can’t Jump

White Men Can’t Jump is a classic 90s film that stars Wesley Snipe and Woody Harrelson as a pair of hustlers and basketball players. This comedy is known for its lighthearted feel and hilarious antics that the main characters get into during the film. The amount of basketball games played during this movie is not small; multiple pickup games ensue during the film in an effort for the main characters to hustle up some cash.

The main joke of the movie is that Woody Harrelson’s character is assumed to be a bad basketball player because of the color of his skin. However, those against the pair are unaware that Harrelson’s character was a former college basketball player, which he uses to his advantage to create a side hustle against unsuspecting challengers. The basketball games and moves displayed in this movie are great and interesting enough to keep viewers focused and happy during the movie.

7. Coach Carter

Coach Carter is one of the most well-known basketball films of the 2000s. This film has the classic story of an underdog rising against everything against him, including issues in his personal life and the community he is a part of, and making an amazing comeback in his profession.

The highly acclaimed actor Samuel L. Jackson plays a coach who has the goal of spreading important life lessons and emphasizes how crucial academics should be to young kids. Jackson’s character suspends the undefeated basketball team for poor academic results, and drama ensues throughout the film.

8. Air

Air is a 2023 biographical film that tells the origin story of Air Jordan, Michael Jordan’s infamous shoe brand. The sports drama follows three Nike executives (played by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Jason Bateman) as they attempt to revive Nike’s dwindling basketball shoe sales by striking a deal with the greatest basketball player of all time. Air is known for its star-studded cast, including Marlon Qayas, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, and Viola Davis, and the film was considered both a critical and commercial success.

9. Blue Chips

The movie Blue Chips portrays the trials and tribulations that basketball players go through during their collegiate careers. The film follows a coach, played by Nick Nolte, who despises the advantages certain college players receive behind the scenes of the sport. In order to retaliate against that, Nolte’s character decides to run a clean and fair program so his players are authentic and have earned their spot on his team.

Although this program sounds luxurious, of course, it had its hardships because of people working against Nolte’s character. While showing the skills of certain basketball players throughout the film, Nolte’s character has a hard time keeping his integrity pure during the movie. This film shows the dark side of collegiate sports, which is a large part of why it is such a hit with viewers.

10. Glory Road

Glory Road is a 2006 biographical drama about events leading up to the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship. In the film, Don Haskins plays Josh Lucas, the head coach of Texas Western College and the first all-Black lineup in NCAA history. In addition to brilliantly portraying real-life events and games during the 2005-2006 season, Glory Road also explores themes of racism, discrimination, and resilience in collegiate basketball.

Honorable Mentions

Love and Basketball

Love and Basketball is a rare basketball film where romance is the main focus. Two people, played by Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, received scholarships to play basketball at the University of Southern California and live in different but tough situations at home. Epps player has a lot on his shoulders to try and compare to his big-shot NBA legendary father, while Lathan’s character had to fight her way to even earn a spot on the basketball team.

During the movie, their relationship blooms, and they fall in love and bond over their passion for basketball. Both of the main characters can not imagine their lives without basketball, but suddenly can not imagine their lives without each other as well. This film is as much about athletic passion as it is about young romance.

Celtic Pride

The 1996 movie Celtic Pride is a comedy starring Daniel Stern and Dan Aykroyd, two passionate Celtic basketball fans, and Damon Wayans as an All-Star shooting guard. This film is a fan favorite, particularly with Boston Celtics fans, because of how the movie portrays the die-hard fan base. Celtics fans are known for being ride or die for their beloved basketball team, and Stern and Aykroyd do a fantastic job doing so.

Two fans kidnap the All-Star player to help the Celtics win the Finals, and hilarious events occur during the rest of the film. Although basketball playing is not the main focus of this film, viewers love it because the fans of basketball are just as important as the playing of the sport. This movie shows an odd version of appreciation for die-hard fans and the realization that the NBA would not be where it is today without those fans cheering on their teams in the bleachers.

Finding Forrester

Finding Forrester is a classic coming-of-age movie with a basketball twist. Directed by Gus Van Sant, it has similar themes to his other famous film, Good Will Hunting. Rob Brown plays a young teenager named Jamal who notices a reclusive old man watching him play basketball with his friend. The old man, William Forrester, is played by Sean Connery and lives in fear of going out into the world.

The two strike an unlikely friendship and help each other overcome their obstacles. There is plenty of inspiring dialogue, and young players will likely find Jamal’s struggles to balance basketball and academics to be relatable. Finding Forrester is an uplifting tale about mentorship and support, as well as an excellent basketball film.