Basketball movies have been a staple of the film industry for decades, captivating audiences with their thrilling depictions of the sport and the human drama that surrounds it. From iconic classics like "Hoosiers" and "White Men Can't Jump" to modern hits like "Space Jam" and "Coach Carter," basketball movies have entertained and inspired generations of fans.
These films showcase the grit, determination, and passion of athletes striving for greatness on the court, as well as the emotional and personal struggles they face off the court. Here, we've compiled a list of some of the most beloved basketball movies, showcasing the unique and varied stories that have made the genre a favorite among moviegoers.
Some of these movies are available on Netflix, but if you can't find them there, try searching for them on other OTT streaming services in your region.
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1. Uncut Gems (2019)
Directed by Benny Safdie, and Josh Safdie and featuring an ensemble cast of talented actors such as Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, and Idina Menzel, Uncut Gems is a movie that has won the hearts of both fans and critics.
The film's excellent performances, along with the masterful direction, make it a must-watch for any movie lover.
Howard Ratner is a gambling addict who runs a jewellery store in New York City's Diamond District. He gets his hands on a rare black opal retrieved by Ethiopian Jewish miners, which basketball star Kevin Garnett becomes obsessed with.
Howard places a bet on Garnett's performance, hoping to pay off his debts and save his business, but things quickly spiral out of control as he's chased by loan sharks and mafia thugs. The high-stakes drama ultimately ends in tragedy for Howard, but not before he takes one last shot at redemption.
Available Countries: United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, and France
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2. Love & Basketball (2000)
Bankrolled by 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks and helmed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, Love & Basketball is a drama-romance that hit the screens in 2000.
The journey of Monica Wright and Quincy McCall, childhood neighbours and basketball enthusiasts, as they grow up chasing their dreams of becoming professional basketball stars. Despite their love for each other and the sport, they face numerous challenges that threaten their relationship and their aspirations.
From struggling to establish herself in a male-dominated sport to dealing with her fiery emotions on the court and societal expectations, Monica's journey is both inspiring and heart-wrenching. Quincy, on the other hand, faces a different set of challenges as he deals with fame, his father's expectations, and his own insecurities.
Will they be able to overcome these obstacles and live the life they've always wanted?
Available Countries: Australia, and New Zealand
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3. Hustle (2022)
Hustle is a comedy-drama film that has been helmed for the screen by Jeremiah Zagar. It features actors Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, and Juancho Hernangomez in pivotal roles. The motion picture was released in 2022 with a 1 hour and 57 min runtime.
Stanley Sugerman, a former Philadelphia 76ers scout of the NBA, lives life on the road after being ousted from his post, scouting for future talents. While in Spain, he comes across a phenomenal street football player Bo Cruz, playing in a park outside of Madrid.
He decides to go against all odds and groom Bo so both of them can have a shot at making it into the NBA.
Available Countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany
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4. High Flying Bird (2019)
Featuring André Holland, Melvin Gregg, and Eddie Tavares in the lead, High Flying Bird is a drama-sport movie that was released in 2019. It comprises a talented team of crew members Steven Soderbergh (director), Tarell Alvin McCraney (screenplay), Steven Soderbergh (cinematography), and others.
The motion picture received a score of 6.2 on IMDb, while it received 78 out of 100 on Metacritic.
Ray Burke, a sports agent for a New York agency, is forced to come up with a plan to save his company during a lockout. With the help of his former assistant, Sam, he recruits basketball player Erick Scott to stream games on social media platforms to earn money during the lockout.
However, tensions rise when Erick and his future teammate, Jamero Umber, have a public feud on Twitter. Despite the success of the plan, Ray is fired by Erick, who begins a relationship with Sam.
Available Countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany
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5. The Way Back (2020)
The Way Back is an average drama-sport movie with some good moments. The performances by Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, and Janina Gavankar are competent, but the screenplay by Brad Ingelsby could have been tighter.
Jack was a basketball prodigy who decided to throw it all away because of his father's constant neglect towards him. Falling into a life of alcohol, he gets a scope of realising his basketball dream when he gets a call from his former alma mater to step in as their basketball coach.
However, a painful memory from his past keeps coming back to derail his mind now and then.
Available Countries: Germany, and Switzerland
6. Coach Carter (2005)
Coach Carter premiered in theatres in 2005. Directed by Thomas Carter, this movie features Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, and Robert Ri'chard in the lead. If you have a particular liking for biography-drama movies, then you can try this title.
Coach Carter received a score of 7.3 on IMDb and 57 on Metacritic.
Ken Carter returns to coach his old high school basketball team, the Richmond Oilers. But the team's rowdy behaviour and poor grades don't sit well with Carter, who implements strict contracts and academic requirements.
Despite pushback from parents and the school's principal, Carter sticks to his guns, and the team starts to improve both on and off the court. But when some players break their contracts, Carter locks the gym and enforces a study lockdown, causing controversy in the community.
Available Countries: Italy, India, Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan
7. Space Jam (1996)
Looking for a movie to watch? Space Jam could be a good option. With a runtime of 1 hour and 28 min and released in 1996, it stars Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight, and Theresa Randle and was directed by Joe Pytka.
A retired Michael Jordan joins forces with the Looney Tunes to play a high-stakes basketball game against the Monstars, a team of alien creatures who have stolen the talent of five NBA players.
With the fate of the Looney Tunes on the line, Jordan must summon his skills and use his cartoon physics to achieve a buzzer-beating slam dunk and save the day.
Available Countries: Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and Italy
8. Uncle Drew (2018)
Helmed for the screen by Charles Stone III, Uncle Drew is a comedy-sport that hit the screens in 2018.
Its crew members include Jay Longino (screenplay), Karsten Gopinath (cinematography), and Johnetta Boone (costume), among others. The full-length feature was able to amass over $46,664,414 at the box office and received Davey Awards, US, Vega Digital Awards, and Voice Arts Awards.
Dax Winslow, a Foot Locker clerk and underappreciated coach of the Harlem Money, spends lavishly on his girlfriend and star player to keep them happy. However, his world crumbles when his team is poached by his old rival Mookie, and his girlfriend kicks him out.
In a bid to win back respect and prove himself, Dax sets out to reunite the legendary basketball player Uncle Drew with his old teammates and enter the Rucker Classic tournament.
Along the way, Dax learns valuable life lessons and finds love in unexpected places.
Available Countries: Canada, Australia, Italy, Philippines, and Indonesia
9. 17 Again (2009)
With a budget of $20,000,000, this blockbuster film raked in an impressive $136,316,880 at the box office. Directed by Burr Steers and featuring a star-studded cast including Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, and Leslie Mann, this movie is a must-watch for all movie fans.
Being the star of his high school basketball team and all set to claim a major sports scholarship, everything seems to be going right for Mike O'Donnell. When his girlfriend reveals that she is pregnant with his baby, Mike has little choice but to forget his future and choose one with her instead.
His life gets filled with regret and sadness, leading Mike back to his alma mater where a magical twist of fate sees him become seventeen again. Mike doesn't hesitate to take advantage of what he believed was his second chance at life.
Available Countries: Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Denmark