Growing up in the ‘90s, I was spoiled in an era that was full of great television sitcoms. It was a time when shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Martin were at their peak. What was cool about these shows is they did a great job of blending in with the era’s mainstream popular culture, whether it was from the music or sports industry.
The Fresh Prince, for example, always had some amazing cameos that featured some of the biggest athletes at the time and produced some great basketball segments. Today, I decided to take a look into the best basketball moments in television sitcom history. They don’t make shows like these anymore, so let the nostalgic sentiments sink in.
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10. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Will Smith vs. Marcus Stokes)
Episode: “My Brother’s Keeper”
In the episode, Will and Bel-Air plays Malibu Prep, which also as their own star in Marcus Stokes, played by Allen Payne. With the knowledge that a recruiter from Georgetown is in attendance, the two go at each other to get the guy’s attention. But when Will finds out that Marcus has a daughter he feels regretful because Marcus probably does not have the luxury of living in a mansion with a rich family. Will blows the game that leads to an emotional one-on-one match at the end.
9. Full House – (3 on 3)
Episode: “Air Jesse”
This is perhaps the worst display of basketball ever in television history. When DJ Tanner creates a 3-on-3 celebrity hoop charity event, she calls on her family of entertainers, including her Uncle Jesse. Little did everyone know, Uncle Jesse cannot play basketball to save his life. He then randomly receives some pointers from NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about how to play the game. Then in true dramatic fashion, Uncle Jesse makes the game-winning shot to win the game. Note: It is also sad to notice that Bob Saget is the most talented player on the floor.
8. The Cosby Show – (Cliff Huxtable vs. Theo Huxtable)
Episode: “One More Time”
This is a great scene between one of the most legendary father and son characters in sitcom history. There is always that one old guy on the basketball court that still believes he can run with the younger generation (Michael Jordan). But sometimes you just have to give it up. In the scene, Cliff challenges Theo to one-on-one to show that he still has what it takes but fails remarkably after getting his ankles broken, after a vicious Theo Huxtable crossover.
7. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – (Air Fresh Scene)
Episode: “Courting Disaster”
Besides Michael Jordan, Will Smith in the ’90s was one guy that everyone wanted to be like. He had the freshest clothes and the charismatic personality. When Will is begged to join the Bel-Air Academy basketball team, he daydreams in a team meeting about dominating Isiah Thomas on the basketball court. Of course, Isiah Thomas lets Will embarrass him, but by the look of it, Will looked like he had some serious game. Note: Will Smith is wearing the Jordan V “Grapes” in the scene.
6. Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper (Get Coop the Ball)
Episode: “Instant Replay”
When retired fictional NBA player Mark Cooper turns to coaching at his old high school, he recalls the story about his high school ball-hog teammate, Reggie Miller. At the end of the game their coach designs a play to “get Coop the ball” but Reggie decides to keep it for himself and in typical fashion throws up a three-point heave to win the game. Reggie gets all of the credit and Mark is jealous. It is a very funny scene to watch.
5. Family Matters (Steve Urkel takes over)
Episode: “Making the Team”
Throughout the episode, Steve Urkel pleads to the head coach of the basketball team to let him be on the team. However, the coach makes Urkel the team’s water boy. But when the team only has four players that are not injured, Urkel is the only option for the team to not forfeit. Urkel then plays like a version of CP3, showcasing his handle and throwing alley-oops. He finishes the game off with a game-winner.
Note: There is also an episode that featured Larry Johnson as “Grandmama” but the video scene was disabled.
4. Hang Time (A young Kobe makes an appearance)
NBC dominated the sitcom world in the ‘90s and Hang Time was of the era’s best shows. Hang Time was created by the same creators of Save by the Bell and had a lot of similarities to the show. The fact that the NBA was growing in television audiences on the same network, the studio brilliantly endorsed some of the NBA’s young stars to make cameos on the show. The storyline focused on a boys high school basketball team in Indiana, with one girl on the roster. The show had features by basketball players such as Alonzo Mourning, Grant Hill, Mitch Richmond, Cedric Ceballos, Muggsy Bogues, Juwan Howard, Glenn Robinson, Damon Stoudamire and Gary Payton. But having a young Kobe Bryant in this scene makes this one of the best basketball moments in television history.
When the group is hustled, Reggie Theus calls on Kobe to be a part of the rematch.
Note: Kobe does not take the last shot and decides to let the girl take the last shot.
3. Martin – Team USA
Episode: “Banging in the Yard”
Martin is a show that I could spend a whole day binge watching. While NBC dominated Thursday nights, many people turned to Fox, which also had a great lineup that was led by Martin, Living Single and New York Undercover. When Martin announces on his radio show that men could beat women in anything, including sports, it starts a great battle of the sexes debate. Gina and Pam then recruit the Women’s Olympic basketball team featuring Lisa Leslie, Dawn Staley, Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes to play Martin and his friends. The “Air Gordon” appearance is hilarious.
2. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Air Fresh Scene 2)
Episode: “Courting Disaster”
The episode starts off with Carlton and the Bel-Air basketball team practicing and looking like scrubs. When the team takes a break, Will and Jazz decide to showcase their skills and shoot around, when an alumnus with money notices them and wants them on the team. Jazz does not actually attend the school and Will softly declines.
After a change of heart with the pleading coach, Air Fresh takes over. When Will suits up he becomes a local star and revives the Bel-Air basketball team. With all of the attention on Will, Carlton becomes jealous.
This scene had me in tears because as Carlton grabbed the ball from Will, I actually thought his shot would go in but he missed terribly.
1. My Wife and Kids (MJ)
Episode: “Fantasy Camp”
The lone show from the ’00s on this list, My Wife and Kids was a sitcom that had a lot of basketball influences and had cameos from LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and even His Airness himself. When Michael Kyle is invited to a Michael Jordan fantasy camp in which a participant has the chance to play against MJ, he pretends to be someone else to have his dream matchup. MJ’s competitive nature will never go away and he does not take it easy.
Did we miss any?
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