By Hunter Saylor–
It is a special time for the state of Kentucky: basketball season. With two of the most elite basketball programs in the country in the same state, residents of Kentucky live for basketball season. To help get everyone excited for the season, I have compiled a list of the top five basketball movies ever made. As a disclaimer, “Hoosiers” will not be on this list; I’ve seen it three times and it has bored me every single time. I spent the first ten years of my life thinking that movie was about the college team. You can imagine my disappointment when I found out it was about a high school team instead.
5. Coming in at number five is “Glory Road.” “Glory Road” is the “Remember the Titans” of basketball movies. Josh Lucas gives a terrific performance as legendary coach Don Haskins, who infamously played all black players in their national championship victory over Kentucky. The basketball scenes are smooth, the humor is spot on and the acting really takes you back to a haunting time in American history. Did I mention they beat Kentucky?
4. Number four on the list is “Love and Basketball.” I loved this movie because it gave a nod to women’s basketball. While women’s basketball isn’t widely followed, it definitely deserves its credentials. This movie makes my list because it is a dynamic movie. You can watch it for a date because it is a romance. Or you can appreciate the sports aspect of the movie because it is a sports movie. I loved the fact that this movie glorified women’s basketball and gave major respect to the sport.
3. Number three on the list is “He Got Game.” This movie is definitely not appropriate for a younger audience, but it shows a dramatic side to college recruiting. I remember waiting until my mom went to bed so I could sneak and watch this movie. Even at a tender age, I was able to appreciate the art and superb acting behind this movie. Denzel Washington and Ray Allen drive this movie, as a father working on a strained relationship with his son. Spike Lee, who is also a huge basketball fan, really showed the dark side to college recruiting that the news doesn’t show us. There is also a nice cameo from Rick Pitino.
2. Second on my list is “Coach Carter.” This movie is pure basketball. If you want to watch a movie with very little story and an overhaul of basketball, this is the movie for you. Featuring strong performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Channing Tatum, this movie is driven by the intensity of high school basketball and a group of kids who play for the love of the game. Even though I never played a minute of varsity basketball, due to the fact the coach never thought I was athletic, I would watch this movie before every game. It got me excited for basketball, even if I was just a benchwarmer. I can’t imagine what it’d do for the starting lineup.
1. “Space Jam.” Finally, number one on my list and the greatest basketball movie of all time is “Space Jam.” This movie is a classic. I love everything about this movie. The reason most people ever started dribbling a ball was because of Michael Jordan, and the greatest basketball player starring in the greatest basketball movie only makes sense. This movie has humor, Looney Tunes, an incredible soundtrack and plenty of basketball. This movie was a landmark in pop culture. Even in today’s conversation, if you bring up this movie, everyone’s face instantly lights up with memories of watching this movie and trying to recreate the memorable scene of Michael Jordan throwing down a slam dunk from half court. If you are trying to get in the mood for a basketball game, watching legends like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and David Robinson all together should inspire you to strive for greatness.
Making honorable mentions in this list are: “Like Mike,” “Juwanna Mann,” “The Basketball Diaries,” “White Men Can’t Jump” and “The Luck of the Irish.”
Photo courtesy Walt Disney Pictures