Who doesn’t love a good sports movie? In the massive pantheon of sports films, you’ve got everything from the serious to the wacky. Basketball in particular runs the gamut, spanning silly comedies to serious takes on the fast-paced sport.
With the NBA playoffs underway, basketball fans will be tuning into games daily to see who comes out on top. Here are a few of my top basketball movies to get fans into the spirit.
Also check: Best Basketball Video Games
“Everybody get up; it’s time to slam now…”
What a movie! No surprise Lola Bunny made our list of top fictional athletes. Space Jam pairs Michael Jordan — the greatest of all time — with the Looney Tunes for a high-stakes game against the talent-siphoning Monstars.
Everything about Space Jam oozes swagger. Forget Michael Jordan’s less-than-stellar acting chops. The movie’s a classic for a reason, and it can’t be left out of any discussion about the best basketball movies of all time.
Who else grew up in the 90s and has 50 friends named Michael? I can’t imagine it’s just me.
Like Mike, directed by John Schultz, capitalized on Jordan-mania, though it was a few years too late to really make a mark. In the movie, orphan Calvin Cambridge discovers shoes formerly owned by MJ himself and gains pro-level baller skills when he wears them.
The movie captures the fantasy of many basketball fans: what would it be like to play as well as Michael Jordan? Nestled within the movie is a heartwarming story about acceptance. It’s a sleeper pick, but there are some fun moments in Like Mike that make it worth a watch.
Here’s another movie featuring a pick from our top fictional athletes list. Air Bud graces theaters in 1997. The eponymous golden retriever joins Josh Framm’s basketball team thanks to a rules loophole.
Let me be honest here, reader: I couldn’t tell you 90% of what happens after the setup of Air Bud. It’s one of those movies you don’t want to watch again for fear of a repeat viewing ruining the nostalgia. I’m content to leave Air Bud in my past, but you know damn well I’m leaving it on this list, where it belongs.
In Adam Sandler’s heyday, if you approached me and said he’d be the star of a renowned basketball drama-comedy, I’d look at you like you were crazy.
Look who’s crazy, now! Hustle received mostly positive reviews from critics when it graced the Netflix streaming service. Sandler’s down-on-his-luck scout, Stanley Sugerman, discovers an unknown talent while traveling overseas. Bo Cruz declined an opportunity to play in America to care for his daughter. Now he works construction and plays basketball as a side hustle. Stanley strikes a relationship with Bo, and the movie follows the two as they try to make a name for the young talent.
In a world full of sports movies, Hustle tells a unique tale and proves there’s still a lot of mileage left in the genre… and Sandler’s career.
If you hate stupid humor, go ahead and skip this one!
Starring South Park co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, BASEketball is a stupid comedy of the likes you might expect from those two. Despite improvising all the rules of BASEketball during a pickup game against some jocks, the sport — a combo of baseball and basketball — takes off.
Don’t expect a ton of amazing basketball content here. BASEketball is replete with potty humor and terrible jokes, but it’s got that intangible factor that makes you laugh even when you know it’s bad.