It’s summer time, and that means NBA players are at the beach, or in the gym getting ready for next year. Some are in Las Vegas playing for their Summer League teams, but it’s freakin’ hot there, and while it’s a fun bit of basketball as a summer respite, it’s a long way from the level of action we were watching in June.
So that leaves the rest of us plenty of time to twiddle our thumbs and wonder what the hell we’re going to do to pass the time before training camps and preseason ball tips off in October. It’s only natural, with DIME joining the UPROXX family a year from this past February, that we do another update on our basketball movie rankings. This list is subjective, but that shouldn’t stop you from offering up your own suggestions and giving us a hard time if we missed one of your own hoop favorites.
As Jesus Shuttlesworth said, “Basketball is like poetry in motion,” so we’re going to rank the greatest basketball films that capture that poetry in motion the best.
A few things to keep in mind. Documentaries aren’t included, so that means Hoop Dreams, the most seminal and celebrated basketball documentary ever made, won’t be on our list. And UPROXX’s award-winning movie squad didn’t help us parse these rankings to take into account actual acting, or the movie’s narrative. It’s derived from the basketball, the nostalgia, the surrounding culture of the game and the overall “dope” factor. DIME isn’t just NBA or basketball, but what’s going on in the community that enriches the game. Therefore, our top five isn’t all that different from previous iterations of this list, which we first published all the way back in 2010. Enough chitchat. Let’s roll that ball out and play. Here are the 25 best basketball movies of all time.
Thunderstruck, Forget Paris, The Pistol, Juwanna Mann, Like Mike, Red Sneakers, BASEketball, Just Wright, O, Celtic Pride
Kevin Durant’s awful attempt at acting; Billy Crystal’s homage to love and NBA refs: a Pistol Pete re-enactment for TV that hasn’t aged well; a 2002 Jesse Vaughan-directed sendup of an NBA-to-WNBA story; Lil Bow Wow’s bball flick from the same year; a TV movie about a drug dealer hooking an excellent student up with red kicks that make his on-court game as exemplary as his production in the classroom; the South Park creators create a new game that combines the best professional sport in America with your dad’s favorite sport; Common and Queen Latifah are all-time emcee’s, but when they made a film about hoops, it fell flat; Othello works better on the stage than as a backdrop for a high school hoops saga starring Mekhi Phifer with Josh Hartnett as an Iago, but with crappier lines; and drunk Celtics fans played by a pair of Dan’s who kidnap a Wayans brother is accurate and awful in equal measure; none of these films made our list, but we wanted to give them an honorable mention anyway.