My Top 5 Basketball Movies

Did Semi-Pro make Zach's Top 5 list?

Did Semi-Pro make Zach's Top 5 list?

Watching an entire basketball game is very similar to watching a movie. At the beginning we get to know the characters and how they interact with each other. In the middle we see the story laying out in front of us. We establish what each character will have to overcome and what story arc they are following. Then we reach our climax. The point where we find out whether our hero came out on top or suffered a crippling defeat. 

It's no wonder so many great movies have been made about the game of basketball. The inherent drama and the natural story progression make the sport perfect for the silver screen. 

MY CRITERIA: These movies will be cinematic, narrative based movies. There are a ton of great basketball documentaries out there (Hoop Dreams, Benji, etc) that you should absolutely check out, but you won't find them on this list. 

Also, I picked movies that have awesome basketball scenes (sorry, Teen Wolf). The type of scenes that make your palms sweat and you need to run out immediately after watching the movie to put a couple shots up. 


5. Eddie (1996)

I know what you're thinking, "Whoopi Goldberg basketball movie?" Trust me, this movie will get your hoopin' juices flowing. This movie has a million basketball cameos. Mark Jackson, Avery Johnson, John Salley, Rick Fox, Malik Sealy (R.I.P.), Greg Ostertrag, Walt Frazier, Gary Peyton, and several more. Donald Trump is in this movie for crying outside! 

Sure the jokes are a bit hokey and the dialogue is not great, but I challenge you to find many basketball movies that make you want to lace up the sneaks as much as Eddie.


4. Above the Rim


This movie is like a darker version of White Men Can't Jump. It all comes down to loyalty and a street hoops tournament. Super dramatic, crazy ending, and a pile of great basketball in the middle. Plus, who doesn't like Leon? Every time I see him in this movie I feel like he should be pushing a bobsled....


3. He Got Game (1998)

This Spike Lee joint has everything you could want in a dramatic movie: heart. This movie is an emotional roller coaster ride and connects with us on so many levels. This film explores the complex relationship between a father, a son, and a basketball. 

The basketball scenes are great and the 1-on-1 scene between Ray Allen and Denzel Washington is amazing.


2. Blue Chips (1994)

The movie that brought Shaq and Penny together! Seriously, check out ESPN's 30 for 30: This Magic Moment, this movie IS the reason that Shaq and Penny were paired up in Orlando. 

Blue Chips takes you into the underbelly of college basketball and the lengths that a coach will go to for victory. The message is a good one, even if it's delivered a little heavy handed. 

Besides that though, it features some of the best basketball you will find on the screen. Legendary director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, French Connection) chose to not script or choreograph any of the basketball scenes. He just let them hoop and cut that into the movie. Worked out well.


1. White Men Can't Jump (1992)

This is Sydney Dean's house!

This movie is awesome. It has great basketball scenes sure, but this gets the number 1 nod just based on trash talking alone. In most basketball movies, you'll see guys talkin' smack and the dialogue feels forced and over written. This movie is just pure perfection. 

I challenge you to find a more quotable movie:

"Ain't no thang but a chicken wang on a strang!"

"We goin' Sizzler, we goin' Sizzler!"

No contest. Best hoops movie.

Honorable Mentions

Glory Road (2006)

The Air Up There (1994)

Coach Carter (2005)

Space Jam (1996)

Hoosiers (1986)

Love and Basketball (2000)

Celtic Pride (1996)

That's my list. We asked Ultimate Hoops Nation what their favorite basketball movies were: