Whether you’re trying to weather the depths of the offseason or just can’t wait until the next game on the schedule to see some action, sports movies are one of the best ways to get that competitive fix you need. Sports are already one of the best encapsulations of emotion and the human spirit as athletes lay it all on the line in pursuit of a championship with their teammates, as well as because of the way that sports provide an escape from the struggles of day-to-day life.
Think of movies like The Way Back starring Ben Affleck where his main character, Jack, uses coaching basketball as a vehicle to fight back against his alcohol addiction and try to repair the relationship he has with his family. Sports help to tell these stories, providing a comfortable common ground like basketball as a way to have tough conversations about the challenges one faces in life. A Boston native (and huge basketball fan himself), you can bet Ben Affleck will be cheering on his Boston Celtics as they look to come back from a 3-0 series deficit against the Miami Heat to make it to the NBA championships. DraftKings Massachusetts is a must if you’re a Celtics fan looking to get in on the betting action. Here’s a list of some of the best basketball movies of all time besides The Way Back (in no particular order).
Space Jam is synonymous with basketball like boxes of chocolates are to Forrest Gump. Instead of taking the serious route like The Way Back does, Space Jam got the next generation of sports fans hooked on basketball by putting the game’s greatest player on the silver screen right in front of them. The family friendly comedy broke ground in the realm of computer-generated images as Michael Jordan took the court alongside Bugs Bunny and other Disney stars, and who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned alien invasion thrill from the Monsters, especially when you get to watch basketball while you’re at it.
When it comes to sports movies, the best ones are often the true stories: think Rudy Ruettiger walking on at Notre Dame or T.C. Williams High School winning a Virginia state championship against the backdrop of racial integration. Hoosiers is no different, loosely based on the story of Indiana’s Milan High School’s 1954 state championship.
It tells the story of a group of small-town players on a suffering team, looking like they’re going nowhere fast in life, bonding together and winning the state championship against all odds, overcoming the baggage of their various pasts in doing so to make something of themselves. It’s hard to argue against a sports movie that ends in triumph (especially if it actually happened), and that’s exactly what Hoosiers is.
Coach Carter, like Hoosiers, is based on a true story. Starring Samuel L. Jackson as the titular character, the movie shows how Richmond High School head coach Ken Carter locked out his then-undefeated basketball team when they failed to meet his expectations regarding good grades and behavior. While the season didn’t end in a championship, Carter helped prepare the players to go to college and succeed for the rest of their lives, helping them make it out of a disadvantaged area, rather than enabling them to sacrifice their futures in exchange for momentary glory. The movie does a poignant job of showing what really matters, all against the backdrop of basketball.
White Men Can’t Jump
We’ll end this list with a comedy. Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes face off—and then team up—playing street ball on the mean streets of Los Angeles in a movie that touches on the racial stereotypes that undertone sports in the United States through the ruthless lens of comedy.