Best and Worst Basketball Movies

If you’re still amazed that one of the most beloved basketball movies of all time involved Looney Tunes helping to keep Michael Jordan from being imprisoned as an interplanetary sideshow attraction, you forget that basketball’s commercial movie breakthrough came in the form of the howlin’ 1980s Michael J. Fox fantasy Teen Wolf. Or that the Air Bud cinematic universe started with the Golden Retriever shooting hoops and marking his territory at the top of they key. Movies like Semi-Pro, Uncle Drew, and White Men Can’t Jump only further traveled this comedy route.

But after basketball movies exploded onto the scene in the ’80s, the sport also just as quickly got its first classic. One year after Teen Wolf, the underdog drama Hoosiers had audiences everywhere leaping up and cheering for a town no one’s ever heard of somewhere in Indiana. More Certified Fresh basketball hall-of-famers include Gina Prince-Bythewood’s directorial debut Love and Basketball, the Denzel Washington and Spike Lee joint He Got Game, and two of the best sports docs out there: Hoop Dreams and The Heart of the Game.

Now witness all the slam dunks — and a few air balls — as we line up the best and worst basketball movies, each with at least 20 critics reviews, and rank them by Tomatometer!

#39

Crossover (2006)
2%

#39
Adjusted Score: 2856%
Critics Consensus: This heartfelt but incompetent, cliche-ridden sports picture is the cinematic equivalent of an airball.
Synopsis: The lives of a gifted athlete (Wesley Jonathan) and his best friend (Anthony Mackie) change when they take a fateful... [More]

#38

The Cookout (2004)
5%

#38
Adjusted Score: 4542%
Critics Consensus: Good-natured but prepared with an absence of craft, The Cookout is an unappetizing collection of warmed-over jokes.
Synopsis: After her son signs a contract with an NBA team, a woman (Jenifer Lewis) invites friends and family to a... [More]
Directed By: Lance Rivera

#37

Celtic Pride (1996)
9%

#37
Adjusted Score: 8848%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After the Boston Celtics lose game six of the NBA Finals, two blue-collar fans (Daniel Stern, Dan Aykroyd) kidnap the... [More]
Directed By: Tom DeCerchio

#36

Juwanna Mann (2002)
10%

#36
Adjusted Score: 11283%
Critics Consensus: With its tired premise, Juwanna Mann's jokes fall flat.
Synopsis: Banned from the NBA, a basketball player (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.) dresses in drag in order to play in a... [More]
Directed By: Jesse Vaughan

#35

Rebound (2005)
14%

#35
Adjusted Score: 16877%
Critics Consensus: Rebound ought to entertain its target audience, but there's nothing here for those who've seen The Bad News Bears or its countless derivatives.
Synopsis: Suspended after a public outburst, a college basketball coach (Martin Lawrence) accepts a short-term job with a team of middle... [More]
Directed By: Steve Carr

#34

Eddie (1996)
18%

#34
Adjusted Score: 18694%
Critics Consensus: Whoopi Goldberg may demonstrate that she can coach a basketball team with the best of them, but not even she can whip this dreary script into shape.
Synopsis: An avid basketball fan (Whoopi Goldberg) becomes head coach after a Texas tycoon (Frank Langella) buys the New York Knicks.... [More]
Directed By: Steve Rash

#33

My Giant (1998)
19%

#33
Adjusted Score: 19022%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A sleazy showbiz agent (Billy Crystal) tries to exploit a very large, gentle man (Gheorghe Muresan) he discovered in a... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lehmann

#32

The Air Up There (1994)
21%

#32
Adjusted Score: 22513%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An American basketball coach (Kevin Bacon) learns how to play the Kenya way as he scouts a tall African (Charles... [More]
Directed By: Paul Michael Glaser

#31

Semi-Pro (2008)
22%

#31
Adjusted Score: 28693%
Critics Consensus: Semi-Pro is an intermittently funny, half-hearted attempt at sports satire, and one of Will Ferrell's weaker cinematic efforts.
Synopsis: In 1976 a singer (Will Ferrell) uses the profits from his only hit to buy a basketball team that is... [More]
Directed By: Kent Alterman

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 40819%
Critics Consensus: Despite LeBron James' best efforts to make a winning team out of the Tune Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy trades the zany, meta humor of its predecessor for a shameless, tired exercise in IP-driven branding.
Synopsis: Trapped in digital space by a rogue AI, superstar LeBron James teams up with Bugs Bunny and the rest of... [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

#29

The Hot Flashes (2013)
36%

#29
Adjusted Score: 36289%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A team of middle-aged Texas women, all former high-school basketball champions, challenges the current team of state champions to a... [More]
Directed By: Susan Seidelman

#28

Wolves (2016)
36%

#28
Adjusted Score: 35472%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A talented high school basketball player's (Taylor John Smith) dreams of playing college ball are jeopardized by his hard-drinking father's... [More]
Directed By: Bart Freundlich

#27

Blue Chips (1994)
37%

#27
Adjusted Score: 38423%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Corrupt recruiting practices cast a cloud over a college basketball coach's discovery of three amazing players.... [More]
Directed By: William Friedkin

#26

Teen Wolf (1985)
42%

#26
Adjusted Score: 44662%
Critics Consensus: Though Michael J. Fox is as charismatic as ever, Teen Wolf's coming-of-age themes can't help but feel a little stale and formulaic.
Synopsis: A high-school student's popularity soars when it is discovered that he is cursed with the mark of the werewolf.... [More]
Directed By: Rod Daniel

#25

Space Jam (1996)
44%

#25
Adjusted Score: 48498%
Critics Consensus: While it's no slam dunk, Space Jam's silly, Looney Toons-laden slapstick and vivid animation will leave younger viewers satisfied -- though accompanying adults may be more annoyed than entertained.
Synopsis: Bugs Bunny recruits NBA star Michael Jordan to help the good Looney Tunes squad take on the bad Monstars in... [More]
Directed By: Joe Pytka

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 47488%
Critics Consensus: In spite of its young leading man's heroic efforts to hold it all together, a muddled message prevents The Basketball Diaries from compelling as a cautionary tale.
Synopsis: Crime pays for the drug addiction of a high-school hoopster (Leonardo DiCaprio) and three teammates in 1960s New York.... [More]
Directed By: Scott Kalvert

#23

Air Bud (1997)
45%

#23
Adjusted Score: 45815%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Abandoned by a disagreeable clown (Michael Jeter), a golden retriever with a knack for basketball befriends a lonely boy (Kevin... [More]
Directed By: Charles Martin Smith

#22

Just Wright (2010)
46%

#22
Adjusted Score: 48351%
Critics Consensus: Well-intentioned but formulaic, Just Wright has winning leads but can't overcome its preponderance of cliches.
Synopsis: A physical therapist (Queen Latifah) falls in love with her patient (Common), a basketball player, but he only has eyes... [More]
Directed By: Sanaa Hamri

#21

The Mighty Macs (2009)
47%

#21
Adjusted Score: 48176%
Critics Consensus: Its heart is obviously in the right place, but The Mighty Macs is too blandly formulaic to transcend the genre's many clichés.
Synopsis: In 1971 the new coach (Carla Gugino) of the women's basketball team at a tiny Roman Catholic college sets her... [More]
Directed By: Tim Chambers

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 43911%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Increasingly estranged from his own daughter, a boozy busboy (Sam Rockwell) gets a shot at redemption when an old friend... [More]
Directed By: James C. Strouse

#19

Glory Road (2006)
55%

#19
Adjusted Score: 60678%
Critics Consensus: As formulaic as sports movies get, this underdog story still triumphs on the strength of its inspiring story.
Synopsis: Coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) leads the first all-black basketball team to NCAA victory during the 1966 season.... [More]
Directed By: James Gartner

#18

Like Mike (2002)
57%

#18
Adjusted Score: 58836%
Critics Consensus: A pleasant and innocuous diversion for kids, but adults may have trouble sitting through the movie's predictable plotlines and schmaltz.
Synopsis: A 14-year-old orphan (Lil' Bow Wow) becomes an NBA basketball player after he finds a pair of magic sneakers.... [More]
Directed By: John Schultz

#17

Uncle Drew (2018)
60%

#17
Adjusted Score: 64644%
Critics Consensus: Kyrie Irving's crossover to comedy is amiable enough to score with basketball fans, but Uncle Drew is held back by formulaic plotting and too much product placement.
Synopsis: Uncle Drew recruits a squad of older basketball players to return to the court to compete in a tournament.... [More]
Directed By: Charles Stone III

#16

O (2001)
64%

#16
Adjusted Score: 68611%
Critics Consensus: Though well-intentioned and serious in its exploration of teen violence, O is an uneven experiment that doesn't quite succeed.
Synopsis: Jealous of his popularity, a teenager (Josh Hartnett) at a private school hatches a scheme to ruin his basketball teammate's... [More]
Directed By: Tim Blake Nelson

#15

Coach Carter (2005)
64%

#15
Adjusted Score: 69325%
Critics Consensus: Even though it's based on a true story, Coach Carter is pretty formulaic stuff, but it's effective and energetic, thanks to a strong central performance from Samuel L. Jackson.
Synopsis: A high-school basketball coach (Samuel L. Jackson) turns a losing team around, then faces criticism for pushing the athletes to... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Carter

#14

Linsanity (2013)
65%

#14
Adjusted Score: 65341%
Critics Consensus: Linsanity offers a compelling enough look at its basketball star subject for fans and curious viewers, even if it never really delves below the surface.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Evan Jackson Leong chronicles the rise of basketball star Jeremy Lin, the first man of Chinese/Taiwanese descent to play... [More]
Directed By: Evan Leong

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 66391%
Critics Consensus: This sports bio documentary is given a few fresh angles, including culture clash issues, and the friendship that develops between Yao and his interpreter.
Synopsis: Filmmakers follow Chinese-born basketball player Yao Ming during his grueling first season as a player for the Houston Rockets.... [More]
Starring:

#12

More Than a Game (2008)
71%

#12
Adjusted Score: 71085%
Critics Consensus: Though the film may not delve as deep as some would prefer, More Than a Game is an inspiring documentary featuring likable youngsters, a positive message, and some exciting in-game footage.
Synopsis: From grade-school through high-school, LeBron James and four talented teammates burn up the basketball courts throughout Ohio.... [More]
Directed By: Kristopher Belman

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 79308%
Critics Consensus: Despite the predictability of its plot and its similarity to Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester has an honest, solid feel to it and good rapport between Connery and Brown.
Synopsis: While studying at a prep school, an aspiring writer (Rob Brown) befriends a reclusive author (Sean Connery) who becomes his... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 81097%
Critics Consensus: White Men Can't Jump provides a fresh take on the sports comedy genre, with a clever script and a charismatic trio of leads.
Synopsis: Two basketball hustlers (Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson), black and white, count on racial myth to cash in on street games.... [More]
Directed By: Ron Shelton

#9

He Got Game (1998)
81%

#9
Adjusted Score: 83696%
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee near the top of his game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: A convict's (Denzel Washington) freedom depends upon convincing his estranged son (Ray Allen), a basketball star, to attend the governor's... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#8

Quantum Hoops (2007)
81%

#8
Adjusted Score: 71900%
Critics Consensus: Dry and upbeat, this story of overachieving academics struggling as underdog athletes is a winner (even if their basketball team isn't).
Synopsis: The men's basketball team at Caltech attempts to break a 21-year losing streak in the final game.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Rick Greenwald

#7
Adjusted Score: 84077%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The professor's (Fred MacMurray) latest lab explosion creates "flubber," glop that makes things bounce sky-high.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Stevenson

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 86672%
Critics Consensus: Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes.
Synopsis: From childhood to early adulthood, two friends (Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps) fall in love while trying to establish basketball careers.... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince

#5

The Way Back (2020)
84%

#5
Adjusted Score: 93837%
Critics Consensus: The Way Back's occasionally frustrating treatment of a formulaic story is often outweighed by Ben Affleck's outstanding work in the central role.
Synopsis: Stuck in a meaningless job and struggling with alcoholism, a former high school athlete gets a shot at redemption when... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 90215%
Critics Consensus: This group of high school girls and their eccentric basketball coach easily win your heart with their unusual humanity and dynamism.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Ward Serrill profiles Bill Resler, a university professor who coaches a girls basketball team at a Washington state high... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Ward Serrill

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 87603%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The story of Lithuania's 1992 Olympic basketball team whose athletes won the bronze medal.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Marius A. Markevicius

#2

Hoosiers (1986)
91%

#2
Adjusted Score: 95713%
Critics Consensus: It may adhere to the sports underdog formula, but Hoosiers has been made with such loving craft, and features such excellent performances, that it's hard to resist.
Synopsis: A college basketball coach (Gene Hackman) leaves the Navy in 1951 and becomes coach of an underdog Indiana high-school team.... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#1

Hoop Dreams (1994)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 102378%
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Filmmakers chronicle more than four years in the lives of two urban Chicago youths in pursuit of pro basketball stardom.... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

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