I think a tough question we all struggle with on a daily basis is, “What makes a movie a basketball movie?” The answer, of course, is that it is a movie and features at least one basketball at some point.
And with that in mind, here are The Sport’s Widow’s Top 5 Basketball Movies.
5. Teen Wolf (1985) – Michael J. Fox stars as some guy (I don’t know, Jason? I mean if I was supposed to remember his name it would be as catchy as Boof or Styles, two other characters in the movie) who turns into a werewolf and dominates on his high school basketball team.
Fact: After the box office success of Teen Wolf, the Minnesota Timberwolves briefly changed their name to the Minnesota Teenwolves.
Actual fact: The Timberwolves didn’t exist in 1985. Check out the guy’s (Kevin’s?) first basketball game where he plays as “The Wolf,” and enjoy the music from some guy they got when they couldn’t afford Randy Newman.
(Okay I looked it up, and the character’s name is Scott.)
4. Meatballs (1979) – Bill Murray goes full Gene Hackman in his inspirational coaching of Camp North Star’s very terrible counselor basketball team.
I mean come on, there’s a fat guy! A nerd! A guy wearing knee pads (very practical, actually)! Can they come back and win? No. Can they do something hilarious? Sort of, depending on your comedy standards/age.
Take a look at what men’s underwear looked like in the late 70s:
3. Airplane! (1980) – In a flashback we’re treated to a scene where Ted Stryker (Robert Hays) is serving in the Peace Corps in Africa and teaching basketball to men in some remote village where sports of any kind were unknown. Do you know where this is headed? Basketball…Africa…when it was a “different time”?
That’s right, they’re all automatically outstanding basketball players, of course:
2. Grease (1978) – You think Grease isn’t a basketball movie? Well, check out Danny Zuko’s (John Travolta) action on the court and think again.
In an attempt to win over Sandy (Olivia Newton-John), Danny tries his hand at basketball, and boy is he doing it wrong! Luckily he gets some excellent coaching from the legendary Sid Caesar, but even that isn’t enough to make his hoop dreams come true.
Here’s the scene the way it was always meant to be watched, recorded with a phone off a TV:
1. Airplane!…again! (not to be confused with Airplane II) (1980) – This is double the basketball movie because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar plays Roger Murdock, the plane’s co-pilot. As we all know, this led to a decades-long film career where he was repeatedly typecast as co-pilots.
This scene where his cover being blown by a kid visiting the cockpit is full of basketball talk!
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