Top 20 basketball movies of all-time

He Got Game
He Got Game is one of top basketball movies. Photo from Vanity Fair.

Basketball fans can get the thrill and excitement the sport brings in the offseason as there are a bunch of basketball movies to watch.

Basketball movies

Whether it’s comedy, drama, or even romance, there are a plethora of basketball films to watch during the offseason. Some of these films even feature NBA players such as Kyrie Irving, Ray Allen, and Michael Jordan.

Here are the top 20 basketball films to watch…

20. Like Mike

Like Mike is a light comedy film perfect for family viewing.

The story revolves around a fourteen-year-old, Calvin Cambridge (Lil Bow Wow) who finds an old pair of shoes with the faded initials “MJ” written on them. This gives him superb basketball skills.

19. Semi Pro

A feel-good movie, Semi Pro is a comedy basketball movie about a singer who has a dream of owning a basketball team.

In the movie, Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell) successfully acquires a team called Flint Michigan Tropics. However, they are the worst team in the league and it’s up to them to raise their game around or it’ll be the end of their franchise.


18. Amateur

Amateur is a movie that raises discussion on whether or not student-athletes should be paid, especially if their family is struggling financially.

This is one of the best basketball films on Netflix currently.

In the movie, Terron Forte (Michael Rainey Jr.) is a promising talent who joins an elite college prep school. However, it’s not as great as he was promised it would be.

17. Forget Paris

Forget Paris is a romantic comedy film that revolves around the life of an NBA referee.

Mickey Gordon (Billy Crystal) travels to Paris to bury his father but his casket is lost by the airline. An employee named Ellen assisted him in the incident and the two eventually fall in love with each other.

16. Uncle Drew

One of the feel-good basketball movies featuring NBA superstars, Uncle Drew is based on Kyrie Irving’s Pepsi Max advertisements where he disguises himself as an old man and visits basketball parks.

In the movie, Dax (Lil Rel Howery) suffered a humiliating defeat to his longtime rival in the Rucker Classic tournament. As a result, he lost his team and his girlfriend. Desperate to win the tournament, he recruited Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) and his old teammates.

Uncle Drew is currently available on Netflix, Prime, Google Play and other streaming services.

15. The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh

Released in the 70s, this movie revolves around a struggling professional basketball team.

Desperate to turn things around, the team’s ballboy banked on astrology to improve their roster. Ultimately, they gathered players whose astrological sign is Pisces—the star sign of Moses Guthrie (Julius Erving), their star player. The team was renamed Pittsburgh Pisces.

14. Sunset Park

Sunset Park revolves around a P.E. teacher who decides to become a high school basketball coach.

Despite knowing nothing about basketball, Phyllis Saroka (Rhea Perlman) applies for the basketball coach in Sunset Park High School. Her goal is to get more money for her dream restaurant. Eventually, she becomes interested in basketball and tries to pull her troubled team together.

13. The Way Back

The Way Back is a redemption story about a former high school basketball superstar who has struggled to live a good life due to his drinking habits.

Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) gets a chance at redemption when he becomes the coach for Bishop Hayes. As a coach, he learned that his alma mater has not gone to the playoffs ever since his student days.

12. Uncut Gems

If you’re looking for an intense and nerve-wracking film, then this is it.

In this movie, Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a gambling addict who runs a jewellery store in New York. He eventually meets Kevin Garnett who becomes fascinated with a certain opal and the two arrived at an agreement. Howard goes on placing high-stakes NBA bets even while having a huge amount of debt.

11. Finding Forrester

Finding Forrester is a drama film centered around a gifted student-athlete and a renowned novelist.

Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) is a sixteen-year-old who excels both in academics and sports. He eventually stumbles upon William Forrester (Sean Connery). Forrester takes Wallace under his tutelage as he learns he’s a great writer.

10. Heaven is a Playground

Heaven is a Playground gives us a deeper look at the drug and crime problem surrounding young African-American men.

In a playground in Chicago, Byron Harper (Michael Warren) and Zach Telander (D.B. Sweeney) train young black men their basketball skills so they can be recruited in college basketball programs.

9. Hoop Dreams

One of the most critically acclaimed sports documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams tackles social issues such as racism and discrimination.

The film revolves around two African-American teenagers, William Gates and Arthur Agee, who aspire to play professionally someday. They decided to attend St. Joseph High School but struggled along the way due to social and physical obstacles.

8. Space Jam

We all know why Space Jam is one of the famous basketball films of all time—it’s because of Michael Jordan.

In this animated and live-action film, Bugs Bunny seeks help from Michael Jordan to defeat the Monstars after challenging them to a basketball game. After all, the aliens stole the powers of superstar NBA players.

As of September 2021, Space Jam is available on Hulu and Netflix. 

7. Above The Rim

Above The Rim is another basketball movie centered around African-American culture.

In this movie, Kyle Watson (Duane Martin) is a very talented basketball player. He faces a dilemma—to play for Mike Rollins, his basketball coach, or play for Birdie (Tupac Shakur), a local drug dealer with whom he has loyalties.

6. Love and Basketball

If you’re looking for a twist between romance and sports then Love and Basketball is a great movie to watch.

The film revolves around two childhood friends, Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy McCall (Omar Epps), who aspire to become professional basketball players. Over the years, the two falls in love with each other.

5. He Got Game

Directed by Spike Lee, He Got Game is one of the top basketball movies to watch as it tells us of a tough father-and-son story.

Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) is a highly-recruited college prospect. His father, Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington), was tasked to convince Jesus to play for the governor’s alma mater in exchange for a reduced prison sentence.

Available on Amazon Prime and other streaming services, He Got Game is one of the best films featuring an NBA player. 

4. Glory Road

Based on a true story, Glory Road is based on the events leading to the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship. The film tackles racism in sports in the 60s.

The story revolves around the underdog Texas Miners and Don Haskins (Josh Lucas), their new coach. He started to build a racially diverse lineup because he believes that talent wins games no matter the color.

3. White Men Can’t Jump

One of the iconic basketball films in the 90s, White Men Can’t Jump is a sports comedy film about streetball.

In this movie, Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) makes a living by hustling black streetballers who underestimate him because he’s white. After some time, he meets Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes) and the two agree to become partners as they hustle other players.

White Men Can’t Jump is one of the best basketball movies on Amazon Prime. It is available to buy or rent. 

2. Hoosiers

Nearly four decades later, Hoosiers remains one of the most-loved sports films of all time.

This feel-good story revolves around Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), a failed college basketball coach due to his temper and extreme methods. He gets a shot a redemption when he was named the coach of a high school in Indiana.

1. Coach Carter

Coach Carter is a true story about an undefeated high school team in 1999 that was suspended due to poor academic grades. This remains one of the top basketball movies to watch.

In the movie, Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) returns to his old high school in Richmond, California as the new basketball coach. There’s no doubt that the players are talented on the court but struggles in class. Coach Carter teaches them the importance of education.

Widely available on numerous platforms, NBA fans in the UK can find Coach Carter on NOW TV. It is also available to buy or rent on Prime, Netflix and YouTube. 

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About Jeremy Mallari 69 Articles
Jeremy lives and breathes basketball. He's an avid NBA fan for almost a decade now.

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