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Bracket Challenge: The Best Basketball Movie

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Blazer’s Edge is filling the bracket void with a competition featuring 16 basketball-themed feature films.

“Uncle Drew” Atlanta Screening Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

The NBA’s hiatus has forced several die-hard hoops fans to turn to alternative mediums to get their basketball fix. One potential avenue is feature films. The basketball genre is loaded with gems and duds, which is why we are putting our readers to the test with a bracket challenge in an effort to find the best hoops-themed movie.

Today’s post serves as a pre-bracket vote for the movies that sit right on the bubble. A “Play-in vote”, if you will. Once the field is set, our Blazer’s Edge committee will fill the lines on a 16-movie bracket for our community to vote on.

Here are the movies that are right on the cusp of making are 16-movie field. Please vote for the movie that you want see in the main bracket. The top four vote getters will earn a place in our tournament.

For this bracket: documentaries are omitted (sorry Hoop Dreams).

Finder Forrester | Release: 2000

IMDB Rating: 7.3 | Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

Cast: Sean Connery, Rob Brown, F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin

Rotten Tomatoes Description:

Four decades ago, William Forrester won a Pulitzer Prize for his classic novel. That was the last time the world heard of him. Now a recluse in Manhattan, his passion for literature is awakened by Jamal a 16-year old basketball player recruited by an elite Manhattan prep school for his brilliance both on and off the court. When Jamal sneaks into Forrester’s apartment, he accidentally leaves behind his backpack, full of his precious writings. Finding these, Forrester is opened to a new world, one that gives him a reason to look past his prejudice and a reason to emerge from his self-imposed solitude.

Air Bud | Release: 1997

IMDB Rating: 5.2 | Rotten Tomatoes: 45%

Cast: Buddy, Michael Jeter, Kevin Zegers, Wendy Makkena

Rotten Tomatoes Description:

A charming children’s movie about a lonely boy and a dog who can shoot hoops. Since his father’s death, Josh Framm (Kevin Zegers) has become increasingly withdrawn. Even basketball, once his passion, scarcely seems to matter. His worried mom (Wendy Makkena) moves the family to a small town near where she grew up, hoping that a fresh start will revive Josh. But he doesn’t fit in well at school, and seems worse than ever. Until he finds Buddy, an abandoned golden retriever who can nose a ball into a net better than any dog has a right to.

Like Mike | Release: 2002

IMDB Rating: 5.3 | Rotten Tomatoes: 57%

Cast: Shad Moss (Bow Wow), Morris Chestnut, Jonathan Lipnicki

Rotten Tomatoes Description:

Pint-size rap music star Lil Bow Wow shows that he can play ball as well as he raps in this youth-oriented comedy about a young boy whose dream comes true in an unexpected way. Calvin Cambridge (Lil Bow Wow) is a 14-year-old boy, who, since the death of his parents, has been living in an orphanage run by the unpleasantly eccentric Stan Bittleman (Crispin Glover). While the tough but caring Sister Theresa (Anne Meara) tries to encourage the kids, Calvin knows that he and most of the other kids his age are poor prospects for adoption. Calvin loves basketball and idolizes Michael Jordan, but he’s too short to be much of a challenge to the older kids when shooting hoop at the playground. One day, Calvin discovers a pair of old basketball sneakers with the initials “MJ” written on the inside. Calvin is convinced they once belonged to Michael Jordan, but he can hardly believe what happens when he puts them on — suddenly he’s able to make superhuman jump shots and dunks just like a miniature version of Air Jordan himself.

The Sixth Man | Release: 1997

IMDB: 5.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 23%

Cast: Marion Wayans, Kadeem Hardison, David Paymer

IMDB Description:

Antoine and Kenny Tyler are NCAA college basketball players, and Antoine is the star of the team. Suddenly Antoine dies of a heart attack and Kenny has to fill his shoes as leader of the team. Some time later, Antoine returns as a ghost and helps Kenny in game and in life, but Kenny changes in the process and doesn’t quite like it.

Forget Paris | Release: 1995

IMDB: 6.5 | Rotten Tomatoes: 50%

Cast: Billy Crystal, Debra Winger

IMDB Description:

Mickey Gordon is a basketball referee who travels to France to bury his father. Ellen Andrews, an American living in Paris, works for the airline Mickey flies on. They meet and fall in love, but their relationship goes through many difficult patches. The story is told in flashback by their friends at a restaurant waiting for them to arrive.

Above the Rim | Release: 1994

IMDB: 6.6 | Rotten Tomatoes: 53%

Cast: Duane Martin, Leon, Tupac Shakur

Rotten Tomatoes Description:

A young aspiring professional basketball player must make some tough decisions in this sports melodrama. Kyle Lee is a talented basketball player in high school. While he waits to find out if he will receive a scholarship to Georgetown he finds himself in a difficult dilemma over a playground basketball tournament. He must decide whether to follow his good-hearted coach or Birdie, the local gangster. Kyle is also feeling resentment for the security guard his mother is falling for. The coach also wants the guard to play, but due to the tragic death of a friend, the guard cannot bear the thought of playing again.

Uncle Drew | Release: 2018

IMDB: 5.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 62%

Cast: Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery, Shaquille O’Neal

Rotten Tomatoes Description:

After draining his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, Dax (Lil Rel Howery) is dealt a series of unfortunate setbacks, including losing his team to his longtime rival (Nick Kroll). Desperate to win the tournament and the cash prize, Dax stumbles upon the man, the myth, the legend Uncle Drew (NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving) and convinces him to return to the court one more time.

High Flying Bird | 2019

IMDB: 6.2 | Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Cast: Andre Holland, Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg

IMDB Description:

In the midst of a pro basketball lockout, sports agent Ray Burke (André Holland) finds himself caught in the face-off between the league and the players. His career is on the line, but Ray is playing for higher stakes. With only 72 hours to pull off a daring plan, he outmaneuvers all the power-players as he uncovers a loophole that could change the game forever. The outcome raises questions of who owns the game - and who ought to.


Your Turn to Decide

Poll

Final Entrants into the Best Basketball Movie Bracket (Top Four)

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Finding Forester
    (71 votes)
  • 15%
    Air Bud
    (43 votes)
  • 10%
    Like Mike
    (29 votes)
  • 7%
    The Sixth Man
    (20 votes)
  • 5%
    Forget Paris
    (14 votes)
  • 21%
    Above the Rim
    (58 votes)
  • 6%
    Uncle Drew
    (18 votes)
  • 6%
    High Flying Bird
    (19 votes)
272 votes total Vote Now

Voting closes Wednesday morning. Once the results are tallied, we will reveal the entire Best Basketball Movie bracket.