15 Of The Best Basketball Movies Of All Time To Hit The Box Office Either Starring Or Featuring NBA Players

Michael Jordan, Ray Allen, Juancho Hernangomez, Anthony Edwards and more are featured in some of the box office’s best basketball movies.

Millions of people tune in to watch their favorite teams compete in basketball, making it one of the most beloved and well-liked sports in the world. It’s not surprising that the sport has gained popularity as a movie subject, with many iconic films featuring NBA players.

These films have clearly delivered the thrill and fervor of the sport as well as the struggles and successes of the players both on and off the court. We’ll examine 15 of the box office’s best basketball movies ever featuring or starring NBA players. In this best basketball movies article we rank these films based on worldwide box office success.

The best basketball movies of all time either starring or featuring NBA players ranked by their box office success

1. Space Jam (1996)

Space Jam, Michael Jordan

Perhaps one of the most well-known and best basketball movies featuring an NBA player is Space Jam. In this live-action/animation hybrid film, Michael Jordan plays himself in a fictional tale. In the film, Jordan is enlisted by Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes to assist them in beating a team of alien monsters at basketball.

Five NBA stars have had their talent stolen by aliens.To get it back, the Looney Tunes must triumph. NBA players, such as Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, and Shawn Bradley, make cameo appearances in the film. Additionally seen in the movie are Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Vlade Divac, Steve Kerr, Scottie Pippen, Eric Gordon, AC Green, Bill Wennington, and Derek Harper.

When it was first released, Space Jam was a huge hit, earning over $230 million worldwide and becoming a beloved classic for many fans. It’s a lighthearted and enjoyable film that combines basketball with comedy and action.

LeBron James played the main NBA player in the sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy, which was released in 2021. The film is still well-liked today. The soundtrack to the film is also noteworthy, with R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” becoming a number-one hit.

Box office (worldwide): $230,594,962

2. White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

Next on our box office best basketball movies list is the sports comedy White Men Can’t Jump. Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes play two street basketball hustlers who team up to play opponents in pickup games in order to make money. The movie has an exciting story with lots of basketball action and funny dialogue between the two leads.

As it examines the dynamics of race, class, and competition in the world of street basketball, the movie offers a distinctive perspective on the sport. In the 1990s, it contributed to the culture of street basketball’s popularity. Former NBA player Marques Johnson (as Raymond), who played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Golden State Warriors from the late 1970s to 1990 is featured in the movie.

Box office (worldwide): $90, 753, 806

3. Like Mike (2002)

Jason Kidd and Bow Wow in the movie Like Mike

In the third film of our box office best basketball movies list Lil Bow Wow is the star of the family-friendly basketball comedy Like Mike. In the film, Bow Wow plays Calvin Cambridge, a young orphan who comes across a pair of magical shoes that once belonged to Michael Jordan. Calvin gains incredible basketball skills thanks to the sneakers, and the NBA’s Los Angeles Knights eventually sign him.

Younger audiences will enjoy the entertaining and endearing film Like Mike. The film has some fantastic basketball scenes, and several NBA players, including Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Steve Francis, Michael Finley, Jason Kidd, Desmond Mason, Tracy McGrady, Alonzo Morning, Steve Nash, Gary Payton, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Webber, Rasheed Wallace, David Robinson, Gerald Wallace, and David Robinson make cameo appearances.

Movie lovers with children and families will enjoy Like Mike. Although it isn’t the most serious basketball movie on this list, it is still entertaining to watch.

Box office (worldwide): $62, 274, 780

4. Uncle Drew (2018)

Reggie Miller in Uncle Drew movie

In number four of our box office best basketball movies list Kyrie Irving plays Uncle Drew, an elderly man who was once a renowned street ball player, in the basketball movie Uncle Drew. A street ball tournament at the Rucker Classic in Harlem is where Uncle Drew and his former teammates compete in the film. The problem? All of them are elderly men who were once elite basketball players.

Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and Chris Webber are just a few of the NBA players who make cameo appearances in Uncle Drew, which is full of hilarious moments. Fans of basketball and comedies will enjoy Uncle Drew, which is a fun and enjoyable film.

Box office (worldwide): $46, 664, 414

5. Glory Road (2006)

Number five on our best basketball movies list is the true story of the 1966 Texas Western College basketball team, the first team in NCAA history to start five black players in the national championship game, served as the inspiration for the sports drama Glory Road. Some of the most thrilling basketball scenes in movie history can be found in this film, which is a potent exploration of race, identity, and the fight for civil rights.

Pat Riley former NBA player and current President Of The Miami Heat shared his memories of participating in the championship against Texas Western.

Box office (worldwide): $42,938, 449

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6. Eddie (1996)

A dedicated basketball fan wins a competition to become the New York Knicks’ head coach in the comedy Eddie. NBA players like Malik Sealy, Dennis Rodman, John Salley, Rick Fox, Mark Jackson, Gary Payton, Dwayne Schintzius, and a host of others make brief appearances in the film. You’ll enjoy it as you find yourself laughing and rooting for the underdog.

Box office (worldwide): $31, 387, 164

7. Love & Basketball (2000)

Number seven on our best basketball movies list is a romantic drama called Love & Basketball. This movie centers on two Los Angeles-based childhood friends named Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy McCall (Omar Epps), who share a love of basketball. They start dating as they get older, but their desire to become professional basketball players threatens to ruin their relationship.

Love & Basketball is a touching and motivational film that shows the value of tenacity and commitment. The movie explores friendship, love, passion, and the costs that come with following one’s dreams.

Several professional athletes, including Lisa Leslie and former NBA players Charles Obannon, Trevor Wilson, and Terry Cummings, make cameo appearances in the film.

The film Love & Basketball stands out for its realistic depiction of basketball and the difficulties faced by female athletes in a male-dominated sport. It’s a well-made and emotionally resonant film that is considered a modern classic and is a must-watch for basketball fans and romantics alike.

Box office (worldwide) : $27,743,596

8. Blue Chips (1994)

Blue Chips basketball movie featuring Shaquille O'Neal.

Number eight on our best basketball movies list is a film that examines the shady world of college basketball recruiting as well as the pressure coaches experience to succeed at all costs. Nick Nolte plays Pete Bell, the head coach of a struggling college basketball team, in Blue Chips. Under pressure to succeed, Bell starts giving top high school athletes illegal incentives to join his team.

One of these athletes is Neon Boudeaux (played by Shaquille O’Neal), a gifted but naive big man who gets entangled in the college basketball establishment’s corruption. Penny Hardaway, Bob Cousy, Marques Johnson, Larry Bird, Rick Fox, Allan Houston, Kevin Garnett, Calbert Cheaney, Rodney Rogers, Bobby Hurley, George Lynch, Chris Mills, Ed Stokes, Rex Walters, and Mitchell Butler are among the other NBA players who appear in the movie.

Although Blue Chips did not have a great box office run, basketball fans now regard it as a classic. For anyone with an interest in the sport, it is still essential to watch.

Box office (worldwide): $23, 070, 663

9. Just Wright

In the romantic comedy “Just Wright,” Queen Latifah and Common star. The movie centers on physical therapist and die-hard basketball fan Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah), who meets NBA star Scott McKnight (Common) at a gas station.

Leslie becomes McKnight’s therapist after he sustains a potentially career-ending injury, and the two form a close friendship. However, when McKnight’s gold-digging girlfriend sabatoges their relationship, Leslie has to balance her feelings for McKnight while assisting him in getting better and regaining his career.

Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Jalen Rose, Kenny Smith, Dwight Howard, Bobby Simmons, Rajon Rondo, Rashad Lewis, and Chris Paul all make cameos in the movie.

Box office (worldwide): $21,584, 424

10. He Got Game (1998)

He Got Game's Ray Allen and Denzel Washington

Number 10 on our best basketball movies list is He Got Game. A Spike Lee-directed basketball drama starring NBA player Ray Allen. The film follows Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), a highly touted high school basketball player who is being recruited by colleges across the country.

His life is complicated, however, by the fact that his father, Jake (played by Denzel Washington), is in prison for the murder of his mother. Jake is given the opportunity to have his sentence reduced if he can persuade Jesus to attend the governor’s alma mater.

He Got Game is a powerful film that explores themes of family, loyalty, and the corrupting influence of money in college athletics. The film contains some fantastic basketball scenes, including a memorable one-on-one match between Jake and Jesus. Ray Allen gives a strong performance in his acting debut, and Denzel Washington is as good as ever.

Other NBA players featured in the film include Travis Best, Walter McCarthy, John Wallace and Rick Fox.

Box office (worldwide): $21, 567, 853

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11. Hoop Dreams (1994)

basketball movie hoop dreams featuring cameo from Isaiah Thomas

Hoop Dreams is a documentary film about two young African-American high school students, William Gates and Arthur Agee, as they navigate the difficulties of growing up in inner-city Chicago while pursuing their dreams of becoming professional basketball players.

The film emphasizes the difficulties and sacrifices that these young men and their families must make in order to achieve their goals. NBA stars Isiah Thomas and Bo Ellis make appearances.

Box office (worldwide): $11,830, 611

12. Celtic Pride (1996)

Celtic Pride is a comedy film starring Dan Aykroyd (Jimmy) and Daniel Stern (Mike) as two Boston Celtics fans who kidnap Utah Jazz star player Lewis Scott (Damon Wayans) before a crucial game in the NBA Finals. The duo intends to drug and imprison Wayans. The film depicts sports fandom’s passion and obsession, as well as the lengths to which some fans will go to help their favorite team win.

Several NBA players appear in the film, including Bill Walton, Larry Bird, Gus Williams, and Bob Cousy. It also provides a rare opportunity for basketball fans to witness Larry Bird’s dry wit and affable personality, which helped to humanize him in the eyes of many fans who had previously only seen him as a fierce competitor on the court.

While the film received mixed reviews and did not perform well at the box office, it has become a cult classic among basketball fans and is a beloved piece of basketball culture.

Box office (worldwide): $9,255,027

13. Thunderstruck (2012)

Thunderstruck is a family comedy film starring NBA player Kevin Durant. The film follows Brian (Taylor Gray), a clumsy high school basketball player who accidentally steals Kevin Durant’s basketball skills. Brian becomes an overnight sensation, while Durant struggles to regain his form.

Several NBA players appear in the film, including Charles Barkley, Steve Kerr, Reggie Miller, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith.

Thunderstruck is a lighthearted and entertaining film that demonstrates that even the most unlikely people can achieve greatness.

Box office (worldwide): $578, 211

14. Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault

Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault is a biographical sports drama film that follows the life of Earl Manigault, a Harlem street basketball player known for his extraordinary talent on the court. Earl’s rise to fame, struggles with drug addiction, and eventual redemption are all depicted in the film.

Rebound is a moving tribute to one of the most influential street basketball players in history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Joe Smith, Kevin Garnett, and Mitchell Butler appear in the film.

Box office (worldwide): N/A

15. Hustle (2022)

NBA basketball players Juancho Hernangomez and Athony Edwards in the movie hustle

Netflix’s “Hustle,” directed by Adam Sandler, tells the story of a down-and-out basketball scout who discovers a talented player named Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez) overseas and convinces him to come to the United States to try out for the NBA. Along the way, Sandler’s character meets several real-life NBA players who appear in the film as cameos.

In addition to Juancho Hernangomez, several other former and current NBA players appear in “Hustle,” including Anthony Edwards, Kenny Smith, Moe Wagner, Boban Marjanovic, Julius Erving, and many more. Overall, the inclusion of real-life NBA players in “Hustle” gives the film an exciting and authentic feel.

Basketball has become one of the world’s most popular sports, with NBA players serving as global ambassadors for the game. Their fame has spread beyond the court, with them becoming cultural icons and influential figures in entertainment, fashion, and social media.

As the NBA’s popularity grows, we can expect to see more players appear in movies, television shows, and other forms of entertainment.

Box office (worldwide): N/A

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