Wednesday, November 9, 2011

10 notable basketball movies

Today, we should find out whether NBA players will accept or reject a proposal from owners on splitting revenue roughly 50-50. At this time, it is seemingly more and more likely that the players will reject this, with Commissioner David Stern likely canceling more games past the start of December to at least 2012 (and possibly beyond).

That will leave us with three options for getting our basketball fix this winter: college hoops (not a horrible option), watching old NBA games on NBA TV and ESPN Classic, or watching movies on basketball.

While there are not as many good basketball movies (as a matter of fact, this list will include some bad ones, in this writer's humble opinion), we do have a few we can look at. Please note this: I know there will be a few good omissions such as "He Got Game" and "Finding Forrester." mainly because I have yet to see them (They are on my movie bucket list). But these are films I can say something about.

So here are the top 10 notable movies, from worst to first (with Honorable mention to "Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story"):

10. Space Jam (1996)

What to say about a film starring my favorite basketball player of all time in Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny and friends, all childhood heroes of mine?

Basically, looking back on it, too sweet. WAY too sweet. The whole flick was in essence an act of worship for Jordan. It starts off with him playing baseball for the minor league Birmingham Barons, with the crowds adoring him and a team assistant (Wayne Knight) waiting on him hand and foot like the good little suck-up he is. But then he is sucked into a game in the cartoon to save Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and friends from aliens who want to enslave them. As if that isn't enough, and not to give the ending, the game plays a role in his deciding to give up the baseball career and return to the NBA and the Chicago Bulls. Yeah right.

9. Teen Wolf (1985)

Premise: Geek is hated in school, then turns into a werewolf. Now the hairiest students in school, he becomes the big man on campus, starring on the basketball team. The end is even more improbable.

8. Glory Road (2006)

The story of Texas Western University (now University of Texas-El Paso) basketball coach Don Haskins who started the first all-black line-up against an all-white Kentucky team and wins the 1966 NCAA title. Good info, but drags in place.

7. White Men Can't Jump (1992)

Starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson at the height of their careers, this is a generational icon mainly because of the title.

6. The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979)

One word for this flick featuring Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Afros. Cool afros.

5. Blue Chips (1994)

Nick Nolte shines in this story of a major college basketball coach who gets tangled up in a recruiting scandal as the pressure to win at all costs mounts. Features Shaquille O'Neal stretching his thespian skills (aw, who am I kidding?) along with other notable players.

4. Eddie (1996)

Whoopi Goldberg makes this movie along with former NBA players John Salley and Malik Sealy about a mega-Knicks fan becoming their coach. While entertaining, it is hard to look past the ultimate improbability (as in never going to happen) of a) a fan coming down from the stands to become the head coach of an NBA team, and b) the Knicks EVER being allowed to even to think about leaving New York for a smaller market like St. Louis.

3. Above the Rim (1994)

I went into this one thinking it was going to be the same thing we had been seeing in terms of these gangbanger movies in that era (see "Boyz N The Hood," "Menace II Society), especially with rapper Tupac Shakur as one of the stars. However, this was way better than I thought, with Duane Martin as a high school basketball star in the projects of Chicago torn between two brothers, one a drug dealer and the one a former basketball player who is now a security guard.

2. Coach Carter (2005)

Samuel L. Jackson is fantastic in the true story of high school basketball coach Ken Carter, who made news  in 1999 when he benched his entire team (undefeated at the time) for not doing well in the classroom. 

1. Hoosiers (1986)

It was a toss-up between "Coach Carter" and "Hoosiers" for the number one slot. "Hoosiers" gets it only for longevity and the emotional impact that it has left on a generation of basketball fans.

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