Looking for a great hooping film? We’ve got you covered with the best basketball movies of all time. With love stories, epic on the court battles with the Looney Tunes squad, and even some surprise WNBA player appearances, you’re sure to find something to enjoy on our list. We’ve even included some of Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry’s favorites!
We’ve pulled together the greatest basketball movies in history based on reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon, IMDB, and our own experiences. Yes, that means we included women’s basketball where ever possible in our rankings. Let’s get after it!
Love and Basketball is a classic. And it’s great movie for everyone to enjoy because it has something for everyone. It even has lots of women’s hoops scenes, including the infamous Monica follow-through pose. But we digress. Back to the beginning. This film is an inspiring love story that follows two kids who dream of being pro hoopers. When neighbors Monica and Quincy first meet, they’re both 11, and both want to play in the NBA like Quincy’s dad. The film follows the duo through through many life challenges from childhood to adulthood, as their love-hate relationship changes.
Fun fact: According to IMDB, Producer Spike Lee believed the female lead should have believable basketball skills. Gina Prince-Bythewood who wrote and directed the film, said in an interview, “I saw over 700 people for the part: actors, ball players, people who had never acted before in their life. It finally came down to Sanaa [Lathan] and Niesha Butler [a star player at Georgia Tech and 1999 Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year]. I put Sanaa with a basketball coach for two months and Niesha with an acting coach.”
This is a fun cartoon and live action film with a basketball twist. It all centers around a big life-changing basketball game! The owner of the amusement park planet Moron Mountain needs new attractions, and he thinks the Looney Tunes characters would be the perfect fit. But when he sends his underlings to get them, Bugs Bunny tricks them into committing to a basketball competition to determine their freedom. Bugs Bunny then gets basketball champion Michael Jordan to help the Looney squad have a chance at winning their freedom back.
Fun fact: This movie’s concept originated from a series of popular live-action/animated sci-fi sports comedy Nike commercial ads for Air Jordan shoes titled: “Hare Jordan” and “Aerospace Jordan” where Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan faced off against Marvin the Martian and his alien henchmen in basketball to stop him from stealing Nike shoes, said IMDB.
This is one of Stephen Curry’s favorite basketball movies. In this movie based on a true story, a Championship-winning college coach, Pete Bell, struggles with a team that’s not winning. Not only can he not attract new players, but also his players are being poached away with pay by boosters at other schools. As a result, the pressure is on to break the rules in order to stay competitive. Former NBA stars Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal are two of Coach Bell’s players in the film.
Fun fact: According to IMDB, in the scene where Bob Cousy shoots baskets, he was told to just keep shooting them as he talks to Nick Nolte, regardless of whether the baskets went in or not. But Bob never missed, prompting Nick to ad-lib his reaction.
This sports drama tells a classic sports underdog story, and lead actors Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper are awesome. Basically a failed college coach Norman Dale, gets a chance to redeem himself when he is hired to direct the basketball program at a high school in a tiny Indiana town. However it’s not clear if his unconventional style will lead the small-town basketball team on an improbable run to the Indiana high school championship game. The movie has a ton of heart and is beautifully filmed in Indiana. The final scenes are actually filmed at the field house where the game it’s inspired by was played. This one is also on Steph Curry’s list.
Fun fact: Maris Valainis was told that if he missed the movie’s last basket on his first attempt, the fans would still rush the floor in celebration, and he would get another try later. Luckily, when cameras rolled, he made the shot on his first attempt, even though he had missed it repeatedly during rehearsals.
This inspirational sports drama centers around a successful businessman, Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson), who returns to his high school basketball team in Richmond, California as a coach. Like Hoosiers, it’s based on a true story. When he arrives the boys have poor attitudes and performance. After he instills tough rules and academic discipline, he sets the players on a winning streak. But when their grades start to suffer, he locks them out of the gym and shuts down their championship season, much to the dismay of the whole community. This feel-good movie is also Channing Tatum’s feature film debut, and he had never played basketball before making this movie.
Fun fact: The filmmakers shot the game scenes over and over from many different angles. The actors had to run a single play over one hundred times to get these shots.
This one’s a family-friendly fantasy for the kids. Teen orphan Calvin Cambridge (Lil’ Bow Wow) has a dream to be a famous basketball player in the NBA. But in a game dominated by giants, Calvin’s tiny frame and limited skills, make this a far-off fantasy. Or is it? After he finds a mysterious pair of old sneakers with the faded letters “MJ” and laces them up, he makes a big leap.
Fun fact: The footage of the game when Calvin and his friends tie up Mr. Bittleman is actually from the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest which Vince Carter won.
OK this film definitely isn’t as good as the original. But it’s family friendly, and it has WNBA players in it. So it had to make the list. Have fun watching Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike and Phoenix Mercury point guard and Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi make their acting debuts. In this action film, a rogue artificial intelligence, Al G Rhythm, kidnaps the son of famed basketball player LeBron James. LeBron then has to work with Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes squad to win a basketball game to get his son back.
Fun fact: Bob Bergen is the only voice actor to return from the original Space Jam (1996) film, and as it happens, for the same role (as Tweety). Meanwhile Kath Soucie had been set to reprise her role as Lola Bunny, and had all of her dialogue recorded. But she was replaced by Zendaya during late post-production.
We included some quick links above so you can easily watch on Amazon, our affiliate partner. Now you’re ready to have a great time with some of the best basketball movies ever made. So pick your favorite, kick back, and relax! Up next, check out some of the best women’s basketball books.