Top 5 basketball movies to watch in quarantine

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Image via Warner Bros.

“Space Jam” is an iconic basketball movie and is available on Netflix.

By Alex Lehmbeck, Staff Writer

Day 18 without sports. 

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to find some sort of alternative to live sports entertainment. Many innovative fans have come up with multiple ideas already, but one obvious solution is to start binging sports movies at an unhealthy rate. Right about now we’d normally be enjoying the fruits of March Madness and the conclusion of the NBA regular season, but instead we can only turn on the best basketball films available.

It might not replace the feeling of watching a great upset at the buzzer, but there’s certainly something satisfying about seeing the game of basketball from a cinematic perspective. Here are the five best basketball movies you should watch, or rewatch if you’ve already seen them, as soon as possible to fill your aching, basketball-deprived heart.

  1. Love & Basketball (2000)

This is for the romantics out there. This movie perfectly captures any young hooper’s dream — falling in love with a fellow baller. This move takes us on a roller coaster of emotions as two on-and-off high school sweethearts that share a common passion for the game of basketball.

Starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, the film explores two competitors’ struggle to balance their often-changing relationship with their own troubles in their respective athletic careers. It all leads to a climactic, stressful final scene that will bring even the least emotional viewers in the room to their feet to root for the future of these two soulmates.
Fun fact — NBA superstar Kevin Durant was briefly engaged years ago to WNBA player Monica Wright, and although it didn’t work out, it momentarily appeared to be a real-life “Love & Basketball” moment. The craziest part though — Lathan’s character in the film is also named Monica Wright. 

  1. Above the Rim (1994)

This film depicts the struggles of Kyle Watson, a promising high school basketball star in Harlem that struggles to maneuver between the many peers that look to take advantage of his status. He befriends two estranged brothers that want the boy to follow different paths. Shep, played by Leon Robinson, is a former high school star, now a janitor, who is haunted by a tragic memory that keeps him away from the game he once loved. 

On the other hand, his brother Birdie, played by rapper Tupac Shakur, is a powerful drug dealer that wants Kyle (Duane Martin) to help his squad win the grand prize of an upcoming basketball tournament.

Come for the tremendous villain portrayed by the legendary rapper, and stay for Robinson dropping a 40-piece in khakis.

  1. Hoop Dreams (1994)

If you want to see brutal authenticity, “Hoop Dreams” is the film for you. Produced by the four-time Oscar-nominated non-profit Kartemquin Films, “Hoop Dreams” is a moving documentary that follows the story of Arthur Agee and Wiliiam Gates, two high schoolers in Chicago looking to further their basketball careers.

Filmed over a five-year period, “Hoop Dreams” magnifies issues of race, socioeconomic class, education and more that play large roles in the two young ball players’ lives. It features touching moments of family unity, devastating stages of struggle and satisfying triumphs. It can be an eye-opening experience for many viewers, showing how in many ways basketball is so much more than a game.

  1. Space Jam (1996)

This classic needs no explanation, but here I go anyway. What better movie to watch in quarantine than the one that raised us all? 

“Space Jam” answered a question the whole world didn’t know needed answering — What happens when the NBA and Looney Tunes collide? 

With the freedom of the Looney Tunes at stake, Bugs Bunny desperately recruits Michael Jordan from his mid-life baseball crisis back to the court to play the most important game of his career. Unfortunately, the Monstars have stolen the talent of some of the NBA’s most exciting players, causing dire consequences on-and-off Earth.

I’m not one to get into “Greatest Of All Time Debates,” but Michael Jordan’s performance against the Monstars might have settled the GOAT argument then and there forever. 

This movie is also the only one of these five available on Netflix, so take that into consideration.

  1. White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

What do you get when Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes team up as a 2v2 pickup basketball duo? Perfection. 

“White Men Can’t Jump” really has it all. A captivating storyline about two talented hoopers that become business partners, hustling random opponents in costly wagers at different streetball venues. A perfect mix of drama and comedy, filled with too many quotable trash-talking lines to list. Even an Alex Trebek cameo as the story goes through a brief “Jeopardy” stage.

But what lands “White Men Can’t Jump” above the rest? The hooping scenes. I’ve never seen more mouth-watering, gorgeous cinematography in my life. The changing speeds, mixed with the perfect amount of music and background noise, portrays the sport as a true art form. The backdoor cuts, dunks and flashy passes make you feel like you’re just a lucky spectator on a beautiful day at Venice Beach. 

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