He is surrounded. He dribbles the ball. He knows he must make the pass to score. Time’s running out. The basket seems farther away. The other team is closing in on him. He sees a window of opportunity and goes for it. His teammate easily grabs the ball, runs forward, leaps and aims. And basket!
When it comes to basketball, it is always about execution. Much like directing a sports movie without boring the audience. There are a few films, however, that got it right and made sure that the audience celebrated with the winning team and sympathized with the losing one. It is all about the game, baby.
Before he was Nick Fury, he was Coach Carter. Samuel L. Jackson plays the no-nonsense coach in this movie filled with teenage delinquents. Along with coaching the student team for the court, he also tries to motivate them to study and stay out of prison. The acting efforts combined with the crisp storytelling make this an enjoyable, yet deeply moving film.
Upon its release, Space Jam won the hearts of both the young and the old. This film merged real life with cartoons and featured the legendary Michael Jordan, along with several cartoon favorites like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Marvin the Martian. It maintains a light tone, while also incorporating inspiring moments. It is especially remembered for using R. Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly in its official soundtrack.
Hoosiers practically started the trend that several other basketball-based films followed. A ruthless yet understanding coach, an underdog team, last moment wins, the works. But boy, is it good! Add to that Gene Hackman’s impeccable performance as Coach Dale and Hoosiers is your go-to basketball film. It is also one of the rare movies where an all-white team is a part of the game.
He Got Game
When you think of basketball films, this masterpiece by Spike Lee is the first one that comes to mind. Oddly enough, the game is just a sub-plot in the film. It tells the story of a convicted murderer, played by none other than Denzel Washington. When he is let out on parole, he sets out to convince his son to join the Big State school in return for an early release. His son, who is ironically named Jesus, resents him for everything and constantly ignores him. The troubled father-son relationship and the important life lessons in this film give us goosebumps every single time.
Sunset Park is a lot like every other basketball film… Except that it has a woman playing the coach. The team in this film is a bunch of smack-talking high school boys, who get into fights at a moment’s notice. It all changes when Miss Saroka walks into the gym and sets them on the right path. She not only trains them rigorously, but also teaches them to play like a family. Though the movie was not an instant hit, it still makes the list as it celebrates the game in all its glory and has developed a cult following over the years.
Not many filmmakers take the risk of combining literature and sports. But director Gus Van Sant has always had a flair for the unconventional. If a janitor could be a math genius, then a basketball player can definitely be a writer, right? Finding Forrester is a brilliant movie that sheds light on the prejudice people hold against basketball players, assuming that they can’t really amount to much. At the heart of it, it is also a film about friendship and following one’s passion.
This insane comedy has Michael J. Fox as its lead. If that’s not interesting enough, then here’s the clincher: He is a werewolf in the movie, and a kickass one at that. His newfound powers not only make him a star, but also help him rule the game of basketball, where he dribbles, jumps and spins the ball like its no one’s business. This is a Sports-Comedy done right, sir!
The game of basketball has a huge fan-following all over the world. Even in Bollywood, it has been showcased on-screen in movies like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Koi Mil Gaya. And now that the NBA JAM is happening in our country, we will get to witness the beauty of the game in its purest form!