We are happy to introduce our new summer series which we will call the ‘Best and Worst Of’. Each week, our team of writers will vote on the best and worst of a variety of NBA topics. We will tally the votes from our 12 contributors and then assign one of our writers to explain what the hell we were thinking. We hope you enjoy and provide your own commentary and voting at the end of each segment.
This week, our focus is on the best and worst basketball movies of all time. At first glance one would question whether or not there is even enough movies to warrant a top and bottom 5 but after our team reviewed the choices and with some help from Google, IMBD and YouTube we found more than enough to wet the pallette. So without further adieu here is Vol. II – The Best, narrated to us by Zain Zaidi.
1. Space Jam
Yup. Wait…HUH. Space Jam? The movie with the ….the cartoons? I mean yeah I know Michael Jordan is in it but…so is Newman from Seinfeld. Am I in the Twilight Zone? Before you start throwing rotten tomatoes at me I would just like to say I did not vote for Space Jam but I will give my best shot at trying to justify why this is the best basketball movie ever. And yes, Bugs Bunny is the lead supporting actor.
- It’s got Michael Jordan. The most agreed upon choice for best basketball player ever. It’s also got cameos from a lot of other NBA players who played a LONG time in the league like…Shawn Bradley and Mugsey Bogues.
2. Bill Murray. DUH. The master of sarcastic humor and the only reason we conceivably enjoyed Ghostbusters or frankly…any of his movies. He stole every scene and it’s funny to imagine he and Michael Jordan hanging out.
3. I won’t lie. The Looney Tunes were pretty funny in this one. Wait. Why am I talking about them like they are real people? Okay, Hannah Barbara or whoever drew these people did a good job of drawing them. I’m running out of reasons here and it’s driving me crazy.
4. THIS SONG! Hello…
5. R. Kelly. What a model citizen. Truly inspiring.
6. The farce of seeing Michael Jordan be polite.
7. Last but not least, this movie teaches us all a valuable lesson. If you are involved in a basketball game and your opposition is much stronger and bigger than you, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Put some water in a bottle, tell your teammates that it’s Michael Jordan’s special supplemental drink, and then have your best player stretch his arms 48 feet across the court to dunk it if you need a game winning bucket. Oh, and also, don’t let Danny DeVito near a basketball and basketball players. He will steal their talent.
Got a little worried there huh? “I swear if HOOSIERS is NOT on the list I swear…”
Well. Here it is. One of the best underdog stories ever. Rudy? Not believable enough. Rudy got zero playing time. Radio got more time than Rudy. Just kidding. This movie is inspired by a true story but it has credibility in a way in which the underdogs beat their Goliath. Gene Hackman PRE Jimmy Mcginty?! Dennis Hopper playing an assistant coach/recovering alcoholic? What separates this movie from the prior ones on the list (besides insanely better acting) is that it’s not just a great basketball movie. It’s a great sports movie. It encapsulates the triumph of the underdog. It’s a man movie at its heart, and illustrates redemption at its finest. It takes place in a town where basketball is everything, and that’s why it’s so high up on this list. No need to post any clips, just watch it. It’s got heart, miles and miles of heart.
3. White Men Cant Jump
Although Above the Rim had some comedic highlights, this is a true basketball comedy. We get a goofy Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes in some really bad balling clothes and plenty of Rosie Perez’ areolas. It’s a movie the whole family can enjoy. This film is all about the hustle. That’s the only way I can describe it. Woody Harrelson is a con artist who ends up getting hustled by someone he hustled (Snipes), and they end up hustling together. Snipes plays a guy struggling in a poor economy, and he uses basketball hustle to put food on the table. This movie also has a lot of great basketball montages. The trash talk during the basketball scenes is memorable, as are the interactions between Harrelson and Perez. Harrelson’s character fails at something, and Perez’ character lashes out at him in her signature Brooklyn accent. Here are some other interesting things about this movie.
1. Wesley Snipes’ wife is played by Tyra Ferrell, who also plays Doughboys (Ice Cube) mom in Boys N’ The Hood. Okay well fine it was interesting to me.
2. Woody Harrelson was actually pretty good at basketball. Do you know who wasn’t? WESLEY SNIPES. Snipes was a spectacular athlete, but not a good basketball player. Names like Denzel and Keanu Reeves were discussed for the lead roles but Denzel was working on Malcolm X, and Keanu Reeves was just…well, Keanu Reeves.
This movie is probably the most memorable of any other ones on the list, but the the lack of a more prominent basketball related plot might have held it back a bit. Actually, once you read number one on this list you will discredit everything I wrote for rationalizing any of these selections. But that’s for later on. After you watch this movie you will learn a lot. You will know 10 foods that start with the letter Q. You’ll have a fetish for Puerto Rican Brooklynites. Most importantly, whenever a girl asks you for a glass of water you’ll think twice…
4. He Got Game
When Denzel Washington and Spike Lee team up, it’s always good. If you want great acting, you got Denzel, Ray Allen, and the underrated John Turturro in a cameo role. If you are up late at night home alone, you got Milla Jovovich, Rosario Dawson and Jennifer Esposito (the hot chick from Spin City). Denzel plays a guy Denzel usually plays and Jesus is actually likeable in this one. Shuttlesworth that is. Something about Ray Allen rubs me the wrong way but he plays the role very well. Just like Above The Rim, it shows the pressure put on the rising stars of inner-city hoops. What’s uniformly better in this movie is the acting and production, and the overall emotion that the dialogue pulls out of you. If you ever wanted an idea of how grimey college recruiting actually is, this movie is a realistic depiction. Everytime you hear a story of another young athlete taking money and gifts and being suspended, think of “He Got Game”. The exploitation of student athletes is on full blast in this classic.
OH YEAH. It also has THIS. Denzel Washington playing basketball. He does it all ladies and gents, he does it all. “5:15. FIVE ONE FIVE MY ESTRANGED SON GETS A SCHOLARSHIP”.
Oh and for kicks and giggles…
5. Above the Rim
One of the more unknown movies to the casual viewer, Above the Rim has many positives despite its cliched material. On the acting side, Tupac Shakur brought a good performance playing the bad guy (not close to how good he was in Juice but solid, nevertheless). Duane Martin shows up in another basketball flick after a small role in White Men Can’t Jump. Bernie Mac has a prominent role (no milk and cookies). The Death Row released soundtrack is arguably the best of any of the movies on our list. Especially this banger.
In terms of correlation to basketball, you have to read between the lines. This movie is symbolic of many of the pitfalls that come with the surroundings of someone like the main character; a young black basketball stud growing up in the projects, raised by a single mother, being lured by thugs into unfavorable situations. It’s set in Harlem which is where a lot of streetball legends grew up playing. It’s a good morality tale for those growing up wanting to be basketball stars. The moral of the story was “Stay away from Tupac.” One of my favorite things in a basketball movie is a basketball tournament montage and…wait for it…wait for it…it has one! And its pretty good. When I’m bored I like to imagine Marlon Wayans playing the bad guy and Tupac playing Marlon Wayans character. Or I imagine Bernic Mac playing Shep and Shep playing the crackhead. Basketball season isn’t here yet so I obviously have a lot of time on my hands.
Most people think this movie is about how puberty sucks. To me, it was all about how teamwork trumps all. And about how puberty sucks, if your puberty involves turning into a wolf. It also gave us MY FAVORITE BASKETBALL MONTAGE EVER! The music in this montage is great, so great that I downloaded it. I actually listen to this song on the way home from crappy dates. The montage itself is funny because all of the scoring they show is the same layup over and over again from different angles. Watch for 0:52 when fat boy sets a Kendrick Perkins-like screen on the films “villain”.
I could relate to Teen Wolf. I wasn’t so popular. I was cute enough to get sweet girls (average looking with good personalities and great hearts) like Boof, but was never cool enough to get the hot blonde. Michael J. Fox’s character learns that popularity isn’t everything, and that being yourself is the most important thing. Yeah. SURE. I’ll take the hot blonde and being able to dominate off the dribble and a 45’ inch vertical any day of the week.