The Sweet Sixteen: Matching Up Basketball Movie Classics

It’s the end of March, folks, which means that Spring has sprung, we’ve all worn our green and March Madness is in full swing. Since we’re down to 16 contenders, I thought I’d match up some of the best basketball-themed movies. Which are your favorites?

90s Faves

Eddie (1996)—Limo driver Eddie (Whoopi Goldberg) wins a contest to coach the New York Knicks, whipping the team back into shape before their owner moves them to St. Louis!



White Men Can’t Jump (1992)—Hustlers Billy (Woody Harrelson) and Sidney (Wesley Snipes) band together and take to the court in Los Angeles, with laughs along the way.




The Thinkers

Finding Forrester (2000)—Basketball player and brilliant student Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) befriends reclusive author William Forrester (Sean Connery), helping Jamal pursue his true dream of writing.



O (2001)­­—A modern take on Shakespeare’s Othello, O tells the store of the basketball prodigy Odin (Mekhi Phifer) and jealous coach’s son Hugo (Josh Hartnett), leading to a tragic conclusion.



Coach Spotlights

Sunset Park (1996)—Phyllis Saroka (Rhea Perlman) is the white, female coach of an all-black high school boys’ basketball team. More than just a coach, Saroka inspires the team to greatness.



Coach Carter (2005)—Samuel L. Jackson stars as Ken Carter, who imposes a behavior-based contract on his basketball team. When the team breaks the contract, they are benched—all of them.



Love Stories

Love & Basketball (2000)—Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps star in this hoops-themed romance about two life-long friends who navigate the twists and turns of love while also building pro careers.



Just Wright (2010)—Queen Latifah portrays physical therapist Leslie Wright, who begins to treat NBA star Scott McKnight (Common). When Leslie begins to fall for her patient, what will she do?



Shaq vs. Michael

Space Jam (1996)This ‘90s classic pits Michael Jordan and our favorite Looney Tunes characters against a pack of aliens and NBA starts in a basketball showdown to ensure their freedom.



Blue Chips (1994)Shaquille O’Neal makes his acting debut in this classic story about a coach who is forced to break the rules of recruiting to keep his school competitive.




Kid Faves

Air Bud (1997)—Young Josh Framm (Kevin Zegers) befriends a stray dog named Buddy with a unique ability to play basketball. Buddy helps Josh embrace his own basketball talent and overcome the odds.



Like Mike (2002)—A legendary pair of basketball shoes and a bit of supernatural intervention leads orphan Calvin (Shad Moss a.k.a. Lil Bow Wow) all the way to the NBA.




Family Dynamics

Above the Rim (1994)—Kyle Lee Watson is a promising basketball star whose relationship with brothers Birdie (Tupac Shakur), a drug dealer, and Shep, a former hoops star, could be his downfall.



He Got Game (1998)—Spike Lee’s classic tells the story of Jesus Shuttlesworth, whose budding basketball career is overshadowed by his father, Jake (Denzel Washington), who is in prison.



Championship Classics

Hoosiers (1986)—One of the greatest basketball (and sports) movies of all time, Hoosiers is based on the true story of a high school team in Indiana that overcame the odds to make the state finals.



Glory Road (2006)—Coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) leads the 1966 Texas Western University basketball team, the first all-black starting line up, to the NCAA championship.




Honorable Mentions: Teen Wolf (1985), The Basketball Diaries (1995), The 6th Man (1997), Semi-Pro (2008)

That’s a whole lotta hoops! Did I miss any of your favorite basketball classics?

Looking for more great matchups? Cast your vote in our Tournament of Fandoms today!

Jason is Email Marketing Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow him on Twitter @jasonapermenter.

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