College hoops are in full swing—unexpected crazy upsets and all (nice work, Harvard and Florida Gulf Coast!). We’re big lovers of the NCAA insanity, but on the off chance that you prefer your basketball in a more narrative format, we’ve rounded up our all-time favorite b-ball flicks so you can enjoy the courtside drama sans whistles and chaos. Nothing’s quite as great on a lazy weekend as watching good sportsmanship and courage overcome everything in a great sports film.
1. Hoosiers: This movie is the ultimate underdog tale, featuring the iconic Gene Hackman as a new coach in a small town who teaches his players the value of teamwork. Dennis Hopper also makes an appearance as Hackman’s alcoholic assistant coach who needs some life coaching for himself. Who doesn’t love this rousing flick? Also, fun fact: You can thank this timeless film for the creation of the slow clap. Mind-blowing, right?
2. Hoop Dreams: In the words of our resident basketball expert Bene, “My favorite! Hoop Dreams follows two Chicago high school students and their dream of playing pro ball. Like any good documentary, it uses a specific story to illuminate much broader themes: race, socioeconomic status, educational opportunity, and American society as a whole. Warning: You will cry.”
3. Love & Basketball: If you’re looking for a girl-falls-for-guy-next-door story, this is it. The twist here is that the guy (Omar Epps) and the girl (Sanaa Lathan) are skilled enough to become serious pro ballers. The lifelong chemistry between these two is the stuff of middle school girls’ dreams—and it melds perfectly with their kick-butt 3-point shot skills.
4. White Men Can’t Jump: Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as hustlers and street ballers? Trust us, it works. Through hilarious yet terrible trials and tribulations, the duo become the best of friends (and sport some amazing early-’90s fashion in the process). We’re particularly big fans of Harrelson’s Jeopardy!-obsessed wife, who schools everybody in the end.
5. Space Jam: A ’90s classic! Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the whole Looney Tunes gang team up with Michael Jordan (you know, that NBA player who inspired an entire line of kicks called Air Jordans?) after aliens threaten to turn the Tunes into an amusement park attraction. Thanks to this flick, we’ve always believed we can fly, too.
(Photo: Warner Bros.)
Don’t know much about basketball? Don’t worry—Bene’s got you covered with her Indispensable Guide to That Giant NCAA Tournament.