Looking for a fun way to spend your evening or to learn more about the game you love? Check out the best basketball TV shows for hoopers. Watch along to discover the growth of some of basketball’s greatest teams such as the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers; go behind the scenes with the world’s best women’s basketball league: the WNBA during unprecedented times; see stories inspired by New York Knicks dynamic hooper Kevin Durant, and much more.
Today we’ve pulled together a quick list of some of our favorite basketball TV series. Lots of documentaries and drama! Based on reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, and our personal picks, here’s our list of some fascinating shows hoopers will love.
This basketball drama from AppleTV is executive produced by Kevin Durant. So much of the story is based on his experiences. Swagger is about a 14-year old basketball prodigy, Jace Caron (played by Isaiah Hill). He’s from the DMV and is navigating tons of pressure to overcome the odds against him.
Swagger also goes beyond the basketball court, showing all sorts of pressures on players. It dives into social media cyberbullying, police brutality, and family struggles. Early critics reviews described Swagger as one of the best new shows of 2021. And it has a high score (92%) on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics say, “Excellent performances and socially conscious themes give this sports drama undeniable heart.”
Fun fact: Lead actor Isaiah Hill’s aunt is the legendary musician Lauryn Hill. She initially rose to fame as a member of The Fugees and went on to have a successful solo career. Isaiah’s father, Malaney Hill, is Lauryn’s older brother.
This is a documentary about the best women hoopers in the world. “From the tears that come with fulfilling a lifelong professional goal to those that come from not being able to explain senseless violence to a young child, “144” manages to encompass it all,” shared a reviewer.
This documentary, culled from the extensive, exclusive coverage by ESPN cameras, shows what being champions is all about. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 WNBA season was played in Bradenton, Florida. There, 144 players across 12 teams spent the summer in a bubble. 144 is the inside story of what unfolded on and off the court over the tumultuous two-and-a-half-month season.
Fun fact: Los Angeles Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike executive produced the film, and played during the season.
This basketball reality series on Netflix is full of heart and history, and that’s why it’s near the top of our list. It shows the ups and downs of basketball, as lived by the Chinle High School boys, across just six episodes. Viewers are invited to join along on the Chinle High School boys’ basketball team’s quest to win a state championship, and better their lives.
For the community in the Navajo Nation reservation in a remote part of northeast Arizona, the sport of basketball is much more than just a game. It’s the main source of entertainment in an area that’s plagued by high alcohol, drug and suicide rates. Basketball provides an outlet for the teenagers who are battling hardships at home. And it offers an opportunity for players to go to college, and help their families.
Fun fact: They play a style of basketball called rezball, which is pretty much NBA2K come to life (run and shoot, no defense, all fun).
This docuseries – with wildly high reviews (95% on Rotten Tomatoes) – chronicles the rise of superstar Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls. It’s a blend of unaired archival footage from an unforgettable 1997-98 season, and candid interviews, including lots of perspective from MJ. Michael Jordan allowed the filming with the agreement that the footage would only be used with his direct permission. So it’s subjective, and very much his story. But it’s insightful to learn directly from one of the greatest minds in hoops, nonetheless.
The series kicks off with the Bulls making a preseason trip to Paris amid tension with GM Jerry Krause. And it ends as the Bulls conclude their “Last Dance” with a sixth championship. The series also dives into Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Phil Jackson’s stories. Interestingly, Dennis Rodman playing pickup games at the Jordan Dome with MJ during the filming of “Space Jam” sealed the deal of Dennis joining the Bulls!
Fun fact: According to director Jason Hehir, the homes that Michael Jordan was interviewed in for the documentary were not actually his. Michael did not want to film in his own home for privacy reasons. So producers scouted other homes in the Malibu, California area that they felt would fit Michael Jordan’s taste and style.
“Last Chance U” goes inside community college basketball in East Los Angeles, giving us a TV series about basketball players we didn’t know we needed. The Netflix documentary series follows a coach with strong convictions as he leads young men who hope to fulfill major college potential. For example, we meet Deshaun Highler, a guard who has sharp skills but lacks size, who was forced to grow up fast after losing his mother. For much of the season, the team finds ways to win.
But by late in the season, the talent is suffering from a collective case of cabin fever. With three weeks until the playoffs start, Coach Mosley has a solution: switch to an actual cabin far away from campus. “It’s a field trip that ends up being a standout section of one of the year’s best shows.” says Indiewire. Ultimately a record-setting season for ELAC comes to an end in a way that nobody saw coming.
Fun fact: This series is created by Greg Whiteley, who is also the Emmy-winning creator of Netflix’s “Cheer”.
This fast-break HBO drama series covers the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers. This team defined an era, both on and off the court, as one of sports’ most revered and dominant dynasties. “Gleefully excessive in both form and function, Winning Time pairs a larger-than-life roster of characters with whiplash style to deliver an absolute slam dunk.” say critics.
Beginning with the arrival of Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the number-one overall pick of the 1979 draft, the Lakers unleashed their famed “Showtime” run-and-gun style on an unprepared league. The Lakers’ roster overflowed with exciting all-star-caliber players, including center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And they were led by brazen Pat Riley, known for his slicked-back hair and his Armani suits. Between 1980 and 1991, the Lakers played in an unmatched nine NBA championship series, capturing five of them.
Fun fact: Bo Burnham was originally cast as Larry Bird. But was forced to drop out of the show in August 2021 due to scheduling conflicts.
We included some quick links above so you can easily watch each basketball show on the corresponding TV platform. For shows on Amazon, our affiliate partner, we’ll get a little funding to keep our reporting going. Still looking for more hoops entertainment? Check out the best basketball movies in history.