Basketball movies are a sub-genre of sports films that are filled with emotions. One moment you’re laughing, then crying, then cheering, and perhaps by the end you’re aspiring to be a better person.

This list features basketball movies that many would consider the greatest ever made. If you’re a hardcore fan of the sport, then you’ll probably have seen everything on this list at least once. If you don’t recognize a flick or two, then consider this an opportunity to plan a movie night that’ll bring you up to speed!

Hoosiers (1986)

Without a doubt one of the best sports films ever made, Hoosiers is loosely based on the 1954 Milan High School team’s successful state championship run. Set in 1951, this movie is one part a tale of redemption and one part “small town team beats the odds and wins a championship.” While that may be a common trope in sports films, Hoosiers is itself so emotionally impactful, you’re more than willing to overlook the cliche.

Coach Carter (2005)

Based on true events, Coach Carter stars Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond High School coach Ken Carter. In 1999, Carter made the highly controversial decision to bench his entire team because of low grades. The film demonstrates that sometimes adults can be so caught up in misplaced priorities that they forget a meaningful education is the most important thing to a child’s academic future and beyond.

Space Jam (1996)

Space Jam brought together two American favorites: Basketball icon Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters. The sometimes overly cartoonish nature of Space Jam continues to spark debate as to whether it deserves to be considered a classic. Even so, Space Jam is a much-beloved family film that is so ‘90s, it hurts. It’s worth noting that despite the basketball-related plot, Space Jam is set during Jordan’s (thankfully) short-lived Minor League Baseball career.

Cornbread, Earl, And Me (1975)
This film features a very young Laurence Fishburne as Wilford Robinson, who witnesses the death of his role model, the college-bound basketball hero Nathaniel “Cornbread” Hamilton. It’s a shockingly relevant movie, despite being decades old. Despite the serious, injustice-related plot, the film does carry themes that are common in sports movies, such as overcoming incredible odds and the desire to do what’s right. The movie is loosely based on the novel 1966 novel Hog Butcher.

Glory Road (2006)

In 1966, Don Haskins made the decision to build his Texas Miners basketball team around talent rather than race. Glory Road follows the real-life journey of an interracial team from a small Southern college who ultimately beat the odds and won the NCAA Championship. Some consider this basketball movie more fiction than fact as certain events in the film didn’t actually happen. Still, it’s an inspirational movie in the tradition of football movie favorite Remember The Titans.

Love & Basketball (2000)

It’s a love story and a basketball movie at the same time. This is definitely not an easy combination to pull off, but somehow Love & Basketball does just that. The film focuses on two lifelong friends and their often repressed feelings for each other as well as their mutual desires to become basketball stars. The movie makes you cheer for them both on and off the court, especially when duo climatically play a game of basketball to decide their future with each other.

White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

This film differs from pretty much every other movie on this list as it doesn’t involve high school, college, or professional basketball. White Men Can’t Jump focuses on Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as a pair of street basketball playing hustlers. The film is noted for dealing with — and smashing — stereotypes about race and basketball. It’s somewhat of a cult classic, which may be why a remake is reportedly in the works.

(Image courtesy of Eric Wong via Flickr.)