The Pennsylvania Basketball Website’s
Movie Review Board
Rates the Top 20
All-Time Basketball Movies

1-Hoosiers (1986) - Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey.    This classic story of a small town basketball team that comes from nowhere to the state finals is considered by some critics to be the best sports film ever made. It gets better every time you watch it, and it’s a true story.
2- Glory Road (2006)… The true story of the Texas Western College Miners (now called the University of Texas at El Paso) men’s basketball team, which fielded history's first all African-American starting lineup of players to take a Division I national championship, and surprisingly winning the 1966 NCAA tournament title.  Hall of Famer Don Haskins was the  coach who changed the history of college basketball with his team's victory only two years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The team started five black players and defeated the all white University of Kentucky team coached by the legendary Adolph Rupp.
3-Hoop Dreams (1994)… William Gates, Arthur Agee. The true story of two young men (playing themselves) seeking athletic scholarships at Catholic High School with dreams of playing in the NBA. A slice of real life hits home with pressing academic, sociological and religious issues. Also provides insight into high school and college recruitment. Documentary style filming might be letdown to those expecting big Hollywood production. Bobby Knight, Spike Lee, Isaiah Thomas, Dick Vitale and other college coaches have cameos..
4- Blue Chips (1994)… Nick Nolte, Shaquille O'Neill, Anfernee Hardaway, Matt Nover, Bob Cousy. The dark side of college recruitment includes money laundering and under-the-table payoffs. Many cameos including Bob Cousy, Larry Bird, Bobby Knight, Rick Pitino, Dick Vitale, Jerry Tarkanian and Robert Wuhl.


5- Fast Break (1979)… Gabe Kaplan, Harold Sylvester, Bernard King, Mike Warren. College coach Kaplan recruits New York street players to improve his pathetic Nevada college team. One of them is female star Mavis Washington who conceals her sexual identity to play on the team.
6- Pistol: The Birth of a Legend (1991)… Adam Guier, Millie Perkins, Nick Benedict, Boots Garland. The story of Pistol Pete Maravich, who starred in high school, college and the NBA with a flashy style of play all his own. This film focuses on 1959, the year Pete made the varsity high school team as an eighth grader. Maravich died suddenly from a heart attack in 1988 at age 40.
7-The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979)… Julius Erving, James Bond III, Stockard Channing, Jonathan Winters, Flip Wilson, Meadowlark Lemon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The fish (the astrological sign for Pisces) saved the city’s basketball team. This is a fun movie.  Norm Nixon and Marv Albert have cameos.

8- Coach Carter, (2005)-based on a true story where the coach benches the team due to their poor academic performance.  Too bad he didn't coach the University of Miami football team in 2006!

9-Maurie (1973)… Bernie Casey, Bo Svenson. True story of Cincinnati Royals star and 1958 Rookie of the Year Maurice Stokes and his battle with paralysis (from an accidental blow to the head) that cut his career short in the late 50s. Svenson plays teammate Jack Twyman who dedicated himself to Stokes' rehab. Announcer Chris Schenkel has a cameo.

10-Campus Confessions (1938)… William Henry, Betty Grable, Thurston Hall, Fritz Feld, John Arledge, Lane Chandler, Roy Gordon, Matty Kemp. Silly Hollywood college film noted for the appearance of Hank Luisetti, generally credited as the inventor of the one-handed shot in basketball. Luisetti appeared after graduation from Stanford University. He was voted the second most influential basketball player  in the first half of the 20th century.

11- The St. Tammany Miracle (1994)… Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Soleil Moon Frye, Jamie Luner, Jeffrey Meek, Steve Allen, Harry Fleer, Julie McCullough. After evaluating the caliber of her girl's high school basketball team, the new coach has a lot of work to do to make them winners.  But, somehow, she takes them all the way to the state championship. 

12-One On One (1977)… Robby Benson, Annette O'Toole, G.D.Spradlin, Gail Strickland, Melanie Griffith. Small town high school star Henry Steele tries to make it big in college despite corruption and a tough coach. The film tries to show how a clean-cut athlete can rise above the establishment and succeed. Not bad with some realistic basketball scenes.

13-The 6th Man (1997)… Marlon Wayans, Kadeem Hardison, David Paymer, Michael Michele, Kevin Dunn, Gary Jones. Disney's fantasy about a dead college basketball star returning to help his brother and the Washington Huskies to the NCAA championship. Jerry Tarkanian, John Thompson, Billy Packer, Dick Vitale and others have cameos.

14-The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)… Fred MacMurray, Leon Ames, Edward Andrews, Raymond Bailey, Paul Frees, Forrest Lewis, Jack Mullaney, Nancy Olson, Ed Wynn, Keenan Wynn. Fred MacMurray as the  professor who invents a miraculous anti-gravity substance he calls "flubber."  It gets used to, among other things, propel his college's basketball team to victory. It was the greatest come from behind victory in college basketball, Medfield College trailed Rutland 46-3 at the half, but with "flubber" attached to their sneakers, Medfield rallied to win 47-46.

15-Space Jam (1996)… Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Bill Murray and Wayne Knight with Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Mugsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson. The Tune Stars take on the Monstars  in an intergalactic basketball game.

16- One Special Victory (1991)…. Cocky executive salesman gets in trouble and is sentenced to coach a mentally handicapped basketball team. Based on a true story.

17-Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story (1992)… Victor Love, Duane Davis, George Kennedy, Nell Carter. True story of Hank Gathers from Loyola Marymount who collapsed and died during an NCAA tournament game. Plot revolves around two rivals who become friends. Stanley Clark did the score. Made for TV-movie worth seeing once.

18- Heaven is a Playground (1991)… Explores the roots of inner city basketball, the plot revolves around Truth Harrison who, on the verge of signing his first pro contract, becomes addicted to cocaine. Bo Kimble, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kendall Gill and other NBA players appear.

19-White Men Can’t Jump, (1992)-Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes do all their own basketball stunts in this film.

20- The Harlem Globetrotters (1951) Young Bill Townsend drops out of college to join the famous independent Trotter team. "Goose" Tatum and fancy dribbler Marcus Haynes were the star players of the Globetrotters at the time and Abe Saperstein was the owner. Tatum, Haynes, Babe Presley, Ermer Robinson, Duke Cumberland, Clarence Wilson, Pop Gates, Frank Washington, Ted Strong and other current team members appear in the film as themselves. Also featured is a lot of actual game footage (three times against the Celtics) including their famous "Sweet Georgia Brown" warm-up routine.

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