Basketball is an integral part of American culture and lifestyle, and the innumerable films revolving around the sport are a testament to the same. If you are excited about watching Adam Sandler's Hustle because you love sports-related movies, you should definitely add the following movies to your watchlist. These are some of the best basketball movies to have been released till date.
Note: Contains spoilers.
5 best basketball movies for movie buffs who love the game
Hoosiers is one of the classic basketball movies that all fans of the sport should watch. The film revolves around the small-town high-school team of Hickory, Indiana, and their new coach Norman Dale. He is a temperamental man with the practical know-how of the game and he intends to take the Huskers all the way to the top.
The team goes through a rough patch before placing their faith in Dale. Even when the townspeople vote to get rid of Dale, the team comes together to reinstate him. Hickory then goes on to secure a series of wins and heads to the finals to ultimately beat the South Bend Central Bears for the title of the 1952 Indiana State Champions.
The film is a touching story of the relationship between the team and their coach Norman Dale, as it mingles with the game of basketball, allowing everyone to become their better selves. The film has been preserved in the United States National Film Registry for its cultural, historical and aesthetic significance.
2) Space Jam
Space Jam was originally released in 1996. A crossover of animated cartoons and live action, it went on to gross a total of 250 million worldwide and became the highest grossing basketball film of all time.
The film follows Loony Tunes characters on the verge of being kidnapped by extraterrestrial beings as attractions for their amusement park. Bugs Bunny convinces the enemies to grant Looney Tunes characters a chance to defend themselves and challenges them to a match of basketball. Realising that they need professional help, they recruit Michael Jordan.
What follows is a captivating sequence of events, depicting an epic match between the aliens and the Tune squad, which they win in the face of ultimate despair.
3) White Men Can't Jump
White Men Can't Jump revolves around Billy Hoyle, a former college basketball player who hustles streetballers for his day-to-day earnings. Thinking that is not good at the sport because he's white, they finally lose their money to him.
Billy meets Sidney Deane whom he defeats two times before forming a pact to hustle ballers together. The film follows their journey as they try to earn money for a better life outside the neighbourhood. White Men Can’t Jump explores the game of basketball on the streets, outside its professional peripheries, and the culture surrounding the same.
4) Coach Carter
Coach Carter is a biographical teen drama revolving around Coach Ken Carter of Richmond High School in the late 90s. Ken Carter is a disillusioned man who knows the importance of education and does not blindly value basketball over everything else. Throughout the film, his goal is to make his team understand the same.
Carter, after becoming the coach, makes the team sign a contract, binding them to maintain their studies and not skip classes. This initially creates quite a ruckus, and many people disagree with him. However, he does not falter. Carter begins training and leads the team through an undefeated season. However, upon finding out that the team had not been adhering to their contract, he locks them out of the gym.
Enraged at this decision, Carter is voted off the role of the coach. However, his team comes together and decides to honor the contract and work on their grades. The team suffers a critical loss in the State Quarterfinals, but Carter expresses that he is proud of them for doing the right thing. The film ends with visuals showing that six of the players went on to college and were able to break away from the cycle of drugs and crime towards a better life.
5) The Way Back
The Way Back is a sports drama released in 2021 that tells the story of Jack Cunningham, a highschool basketball star player of his time who walked out on his full scholarship. Separated from his wife after the death of their child, Jack drowns himself in alcohol to soothe his woes. However, when he is offered a job as a coach at his former catholic high school, he reluctantly accepts.
The film follows Jack's journey with his team as he brings himself up from the trenches and reduces his dependency on alcohol. As they bond, the team gets a crucial win in the finals to get a playoff berth. Unfortunately, Jack receives disturbing news which reminds him of his deceased son, after which he resumes drinking again. As his life spirals downwards again, Jack hits rock bottom when he gets fired from the team.
After he gets into an accident while drunk, Jack finally decides to get his life together for good. He goes to therapy to deal with his son's death and picks up a basketball to start his life over, leaving all the negativity behind. The Way Back gives a vantage point of how the sport can help people and become a catalyst for their well-being.
These are some of the best basketball movies out there that deserve a watch. Even if you're not a huge fan of the sport, these will evoke a certain respect for the game.
Adam Sandler is returning to the screen with Hustle. The film will revolve around an international player trying to familiarise himself with professional basketball away from his home. You can watch it on Netflix June 8, 2022, onwards.