The Best Basketball Movies to Inspire Great Aspirations
Some things just translate well to the big screen, and basketball is no exception. Cameras seem to capture the beauty and grace that is required from a player to be able to excel during gameplay in a way that nothing else can. Sports movies in general have become known for their drama and ability to relate to the player in everyone while telling tales of strength, overcoming adversity, and the love of the game. Watching movies can be a great way to bond, teach a lesson, or bring the energy out in a team -- here are five of the best basketball movies.
Taking home the gold for most NBA cameos in a single film, Like Mike is a story about Calvin Cambridge (Lil’ Bow Wow), a young orphan who snags some old sneakers with faded initials “MJ” on them. He laces them up and discovers that he has superstar-level skills on the court, which leads the fictional Los Angeles Knights to sign him. What appears to be a big marketing stunt turns into a hustle when Cambridge destroys an entire team of All-Stars on the court. He also finally finds a father figure in his teammate (played by Morris Chestnut), which provides a nice emotional backbone to an otherwise light and fun tale of humility, sportsmanship, and teamwork.
Set in the mid-1960s, Glory Road follows Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) as he takes over the basketball program at Texas Western University. He proceeds to find seven black players from disadvantaged communities to fill up his roster, who then lead the team to a nearly undefeated season. Their success is hampered by resistance to their integration until Haskins ultimately makes history by starting five African-American players in the National Championship game. The team fights through thick and thin together for the love of the game.
Considered a cult classic, Hoosiers is the story of Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) becoming Hickory’s new basketball coach and trying to instill the fundamentals of the game within the team. Tensions come to a snapping point when the small town’s best player, Jimmy Chitwood, declares that he will not play unless Coach Dale stays, and the team goes on a tirade for the rest of their championship run. The movie features a great lesson in perseverance, hammering home that if you play hard, you’re a winner, no matter what the scoreboard says.
Sometimes considered the Remember the Titans of basketball, Coach Carter takes the drama on a high school court to its fullest extent. Samuel L. Jackson puts in a great performance as the dictatorial head coach that takes over an unmotivated team and changes its entire culture with a new set of strict rules and mandates. Based on the true story of Ken Carter, who famously prevented his team from playing until its grades improved. The movie may be a bit mature at times, but it proves worth it for the lesson of setting high expectations, striving to meet them and academic integrity.
Could a talented black basketball player from the Bronx moonlight as the best writer inside an elite Manhattan private school? This movie takes its time to challenge stereotypes and remind us to not judge books by their covers, as Jamal (Rob Brown), a young phenom on the rise, strikes up an unlikely kinship with a famous Scottish novelist turned hermit (Sean Connery). He takes Jamal under his wing and mentors him, encouraging him to work hard to keep both sides of him alive and well, but to foremost keep his priorities straight.