Are March Madness and the NBA playoffs giving you a basketball Jones? Have you already torn up your bracket? If you need more basketball in your life, or some inspiration to get out on the court, here are five classic movies that are sure to be a slam dunk with any basketball fan.
1.) Hoosiers (1986)
Directed by David Anspaugh, Hoosiers is based on the true story of a small-town team in Indiana that came together to make the 1954 State Finals. Gene Hackman plays Normal Dale, a failed college coach who brings a troubled past and a focus on the fundamentals to his new team. When the team’s best player quits to get his grades up, Dale struggles to keep the team together and to win games. He also must answer to the community over his sometimes explosive temper as well as his choice of assistant coach, a notorious town drunk named Shooter (Dennis Hopper). Through on and off-the-court struggles, the team and the men leading it earn their shot at redemption in the State Championship game. Dennis Hopper’s complex performance as the team’s emotionally-broken assistant coach earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
2.) Glory Road (2006)
The story of the first college team to start an all-black line-up and their journey to the NCAA National Championship, Glory Road is a powerful look at how sports can change society for the better. In 1966, new coach of the Texas Western Miners Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) chooses to recruit his team based on talent and ability regardless of race. His team, composed of both black and white players, begins winning all of their games and prove themselves consistently on the court. In spite of this, the extremely conservative citizens of the town are unhappy with the coach’s choice and racial tensions run high. Led by team captain Harry Flournoy (Mehcad Brooks) and Bobby Joe Hill (Derek Luke), the Miners overcome unimaginable odds and play their way to the NCAA championship where they face the powerhouse Kentucky Wildcats.
3.) Space Jam (1996)
Featuring an all-star cast and an outstanding soundtrack, Space Jam remains THE basketball movie of the 1990’s. When the extraterrestrial owner of an amusement park needs a new attraction for his customers, he sends a group of his henchmen to earth to kidnap the Looney Tune characters. Bugs Bunny manages to trick the aliens into playing a game of basketball to decide their fate, thinking they can easily outplay the small, un-athletic creatures. The aliens, however, manage to steal the talents from the best players in the NBA and transform into the Monstars, massive basketball juggernauts. Desperate to save his friends, Bugs recruits Michael Jordan to help them beat the Monstars on the court. Space Jam includes a huge number of cameos by legendary players like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, Larry bird and Shawn Bradley, not to mention Bill Murray. This film offers big laughs for the whole family.
4.) Coach Carter (2005)
Coach Carter tells the true story of Ken Carter, played by the always incredible Samuel L. Jackson, a successful sporting goods store owner who returns to coach his old high school basketball team. He is shocked by his team’s lack of respect and poor performance on the court and in the classroom and decides to turn them around. Carter institutes a system where the players must sign written contracts that stipulate respectful behavior, a dress code, and academic performance as conditions for playing on the team. While the players are initially resistant, they soon see the value of Carter’s methods when they start winning games. When the team becomes too confident following their successes, however, they let their grades slip and start to return to their old habits. Sticking to his convictions, Carter cancels all team activities and locks the gym, refusing to let the boys play until they show they can succeed in the classroom. In the face of criticism from the players, the school and the entire community, Carter doesn’t back down and in the process makes a profound impact on this once losing team.
5.) Finding Forrester (2000)
Directed by Gus Van Sant, Finding Forrester includes the legendary Sean Connery as well as early roles for Rob Brown, Anna Paquin and Busta Rhymes. Jamal Wallace (Brown) is an exceptionally gifted student and basketball player growing up in New York. His scores on a standardized state exam earn him a scholarship to a prestigious prep school in Manhattan. There he faces discrimination in the classroom and on the basketball team because of his race. Through a coincidence, he meets and befriends the reclusive novelist William Forrester (Connery). He mentors Jamal on becoming a writer and encourages him to overcome the limitations other people place on him to pursue his real dream. In return, Jamal helps bring William back into the world.
These aren’t the only great basketball movies out there but they can definitely keep you on the court in between games, or if your team is already out of the tournament.