Basketball has taken center court in Hollywood for decades.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of “White Men Can’t Jump.”
That film, starring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson and Rosie Perez, had so many quotable lines that young hoopers from around the world would quote lines from the movie whenever they put in work on the local courts.
The movie became so iconic that a remake is set starring rap stars Jack Harlow and Vince Staples.
However, “White Men Can’t Jump” is not the only great hoops movie in the world.
Therefore, RegalMag.com took a trip down the free throw lane, or memory lane, to rank the top 10 basketball movies of all time.
Side Bar: Basketball documentaries did not qualify for this list, only theatrical films.
- “Just Wright” (2010)— “Just Wright,” starring Queen Latifah, Common and Paula Patton holds a special place in the hearts of RegalMag.com staffers. That is so because “Just Wright” was the first film ever reviewed in RegalMag.com. But sentiments aside, the film was a true love story between what might seem like an unlikely duo. However, beyond the surface the two were soulmates with a love for each other and the game.
- “Blue Chips” (1994)—Shaquille O’Neal might have been the first basketball star/movie star. While some of the kiddie movies that Shaq made did not actually qualify as critically-acclaimed cinema, he was in his element in “Blue Chips,” which also starred his Orlando Magic teammate Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and the legend, Nick Nolte. The plot, which seems outdated today with name, image and likeness deals, focused on college coaches illegally paying the best players so that they can compete against the blue bloods of college basketball.
- “The Way Back” (2020)—In a decade or so, “The Way Back” starring Ben Affleck might rank a little higher. However, when other films get to marinate in the minds of moviegoers for decades, it becomes harder to rank a newbie higher than an O.G. In “The Way Back,” Affleck plays Jack Cunningham, a former high school basketball standout who ruins his life and future on the court. However, he gets a chance to right his wrongs when he returns to his alma mater as head coach.
- “He Got Game” (1998)—Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) had game and he had the scholarship offers to back it up. However, his success on the court did not eliminate the stress in his homelife. His father Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington) is in prison for killing his mother. Jesus must raise his little sister Mary (Zelda Harris), not to mention take care of his girlfriend, Lala (Rosario Dawson). But the ultimate dilemma for Jesus comes when he learns that he can get his father out of prison early if he signs with the governor’s alma mater.
- “Coach Carter” (2005)— “Coach Carter” starring Samuel L. Jackson, Channing Tatum, Octavia Spencer and singer Ashanti was inspiring. The movie had the perfect inspirational song to accompany the film with “Hope” by Twista and Faith Evans. No shade, but “Hope” should have won the Oscar that year for Best Song over “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” by Three Six Mafia. Unfortunately, the tune did not get a nomination. In the film, Coach Carter (Jackson) takes over coaching duties at his old school. His tough love approach begins to elevate the performances of his players on the court and in the classroom. Combine Joe Clark from “Lean on Me” with Vince Lombardi and “Coach Carter” was destined to be a winner.
- “Above the Rim” (1994)—The 1990s represented a creative zenith for Black Hollywood in some regards. Sure, many of the films were stereotypical with the hood and gangster element. But some of the best soundtracks of all time came out in the 1990s. Thanks to the roster at Death Row Records, and some of their homies from other labels, the “Above the Rim” soundtrack featured classics like “Regulate” by Warren G and Nate Dogg, “Pain” by 2Pac, “Anything” by SWV and “Old Time’s Sake” by Sweet Sable. But the film held its own too thanks to great performances by Duane Martin, Leon, Tupac Shakur, Marlon Wayans, Bernie Mac and Wood Harris. In the film, high school star Kyle (Martin) has his heart set on playing for Georgetown University. But when he begins accepting gifts from local gangster Birdie (Shakur), his future begins to fall apart.
- “White Men Can’t Jump” (1992)—The phrase do not judge a book by its cover comes to mind when thinking about “White Men Can’t Jump.” Billy Hoyle (Harrelson), or Billy Ho as Junior (Kadeem Hardison) called him looked more like a beach bum than a baller. On the contrary, Sidney Deane (Snipes) looked like he cared more about style on the court than substance. But in the competitive world of street ball, making assumptions can make a broke a$$ out of you when playing for big bucks. However, what if the unlikely duo of style and substance can come together to earn large sums of money? That could be the jump start to a lucrative hustle.
- “Hoosiers” (1986)—Many people can relate to the underdog. The underdog could be the person that comes from humble means. In basketball terms, the underdogs can be undersized, less talented and with fewer luxuries. But what many lack in physical talent and amenities, they make up for with heart. In “Hoosiers,” the team from rural Hickory High represented true underdogs competing for a state basketball championship in Indiana against the big dogs from the big city.
- “Glory Road” (2006)—The cultural significance of Texas Western, with an all-Black starting five, defeating the all-White Kentucky Wildcats resonates because it sped up the integration of college basketball in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement in 1966. Texas Western coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) could not get the most talented athletes to come to El Paso, Texas. Many of the best Black players could not get the bluebloods like Duke and Kansas to give them basketball scholarships. So through genius or necessity, Haskins took a band of overlooked athletes and made the entire world look at their greatness on the way to the 1966 NCAA championship.
- “Love & Basketball” (2000)—Double or nothing. Although Black movie fans love Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) and Scott McKnight (Common) from “Just Wright,” they absolutely adore and treasure Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy McCall (Omar Epps) from “Love & Basketball.” From the day Monica moved into the neighborhood, Quincy loved her, and she loved him. The only thing they love almost as much is basketball. Through the ups and downs of college recruiting to making it professionally, which was not always possible for women in America, one of Black Hollywood’s favorite on-screen couples found a way to keep their love, of both, intact.