Hollywood loves sports. From the excitement and drama of Jerry Maguire to the pain and suffering of heavyweight boxing contender Rocky Balboa, we find signs of that love affair everywhere we look. Many of the best-loved and most famous movies are based on true stories from the often complicated world of professional sports, and, of course, basketball is no different.
Search for movies featuring basketball, and you’ll be spoiled for choice. The options range from the grit and determination needed to survive college basketball to the story of the NBA betting sharks using insider knowledge to beat the bookies. There are many great movies about basketball, but we’re ready to open a can of worms and ask that all important question, which is best?
In this article, you will find our selection of the best basketball movies. Do you agree with our list, or perhaps you believe there’s one golden nugget we’ve managed to miss? Let us know, and we will consider adding it to this article. In the meantime, let’s reveal our favorite basketball-themed movies.
White Men Can’t Jump
We had no hesitation in adding this classic to our list of the best basketball movies. It’s about as far removed from the NBA as you can imagine, and if you’re looking for a Disney-style happy ending, this isn’t the movie for you.
In its unique way, White Men Can’t Jump shows how a passion for playing ball can forge friendships and love affairs. Released in 1992, it’s as relevant today as ever, and with the likes of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, this a title movie fans will love.
For a generation of movie-goers and sports fans, there’s no bigger basketball flick than Space Jam. The original with Michael Jordan is the best; we won’t hear otherwise. Yes, Space Jam with LeBron James is something special, updated for the digital age, but it doesn’t come close to overshadowing the one released in 1996.
It combines all that’s great and good about the Looney Tunes and the NBA. You wouldn’t think it would be a blend that works, but Space Jam is a must-see. If you have yet to see the 96 version of Space Jam, we recommend that’s something you remedy as soon as possible.
He Got Game
Released in 1998, this is just another of the classic basketball movies that hit hard in the 90s. Was there a better decade for sports movies? Not if you’re a lover of shooting hoops, that’s for sure. Regardless of your favorite NBA movie, we’re confident He Got Game will feature on your top five and appear in a prominent position.
This movie features Denzel Washington, who finds himself on a week’s parole from prison with an unusual request. It’s funny and sad and sometimes challenges the audience to check their position on holding onto anger, resentment, and revenge. Supported by some professional players at the time, He Got Game boasts an incredible cast, and the results are worth watching.
The next time you look for a sports-themed movie or an addition to your favorite basketball stories, check out He Got Game. You won’t be sorry.
Does Hoosiers belong on the same list as Space Jam and White Men Can’t Jump? You better believe it does. This basketball movie was released to cinema-goers in 1986, making it the oldest on the list, but it’s a film and message that has aged well. It’s as relevant and popular today as it ever was.
Hoosiers is made great by a stunning performance from the legendary Gene Hackman, who stars as a failed coach who gets one final and unexpected roll of the dice. The efforts of Dennis Hopper helped make this movie great.
The Way Back
The final entry on our list of the best and most memorable basketball movies is the 2020 release, The Way Back. This is the newest film on this list, but it holds its own against anything the 90s can throw at it.
The Way Back features Ben Affleck at his best as a former high school star with alcohol issues. He gets a shot at redemption as a coach of a bunch of misfits, but in true Hollywood fashion, the team’s ambition helps turn things around.