With the NBA season just underway, film historian and sports fan Mark Jordan Legan shares some of the best basketball films of all time.
His first pick is pretty obvious, 1986's "Hoosiers." The film is loosely based on a real Indiana small town high school team that won the state championship back in the 1950s. Gene Hackman plays a washed up college basketball coach with anger issues who is thrown a bone by an old friend, who is now a high school principal at a tiny farming community that lives for basketball.
In true Hoosiers’ fashion, Gene Hackman doesn’t give up and trains this scrappy group to learn the fundamentals, play together as a true team and they start winning.
His second selection is the 1994 award-winning documentary "Hoop Dreams." The film is incredibly powerful and captures the challenges and struggles of life as it follows two young African American basketball phenoms – full of talent and promise and hope.
The documentary is riveting as you watch these two teenagers grow up over the course of five years – dealing with the dangers of inner-city Chicago life, drugs, crime and teenage pregnancy.
And Mark's final choice is the 1992 comedy, "White Men Can't Jump." From writer/director Ron Shelton, who has made other sport film staples like "Bull Durham" and "Tin Cup." The comedy follows two basketball hustlers played by Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.
This entertaining film really does capture the machismo and trash talking that goes on during pick-up games, so much so that Mark had a hard time pulling audio clips that were not full of – shall we say – colorful salty language?
Mark Jordan Legan is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. If you'd like to see more of his movie reviews, click this link.