In the dogs days of summer, it’s not easy to get your fix for hoops. The NBA summer league is over almost as soon as it starts, the new Big3 hasn’t quite developed enough to warrant an audience, and it’snot easy to find basketballmovies youve actually heard of on Netflix. Think of all the most popular films on basketballHoosiers, Space Jam, Blue Chips, and Hoop Dreams. None of them are on the streaming service (though they are available if you have a DVD subscription).
Good news, though. Netflix has plenty of other basketball films for you to experience. You might not be totally familiar with some of these movies, but watching them might give you an even greater appreciation for the sport.
The best basketball movies on Netflix
1)At All Costs
If you want to understand what high-level amateur basketball is all about and how that translates into potential college stardom and NBA riches, this 2016 documentary lays out all the behind-the-scenes highs and lows. The filmmakers focus on AAU (Athletic Amateur Union) basketball, as they follow the players and their parents who hope to makeit big (and the shoe companies that are looking to profit).The documentary shows the one factor thats behind the entire amateur basketball enterprise. As Fox Sportswrote, The documentary is quite telling of the business, and as you find out, money reigns supreme.
2)Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot
Dirk Nowitzki, one of the greatest players of his generation who recently announced that he plans to play in the NBA for a few more years, was the subject of this 2014 documentary. Instead of focusing on all the accolades Nowitzki has racked up for the Dallas Mavericks during his 19-year career, this film follows his early career when he was being tutored by German basketball legend Holger Geschwindner. If youre looking for any kind of negativity surrounding Nowitzki, youre probably not going to find it in this film. As RogerEbert.com notes, the film is charming, light hour and forty-five minutes with just enough eccentricity to justify its being essentially a puff piece.
3) The Hollywood Shorties
Beginning in the 1950s and rising to a peak of popularity in the 1980s, the Hollywood Shorties were a basketball team made up of character actors who also happened to be dwarves. As the film description notes, the team began simply as a rare outlet for little people to gather publicly as the team’s athletic skill increased, so did its membership and so too its popularity. This 2016 documentary explores the rise and fall of the team and how its players used comedy and basketball skills to showcase little people as something other than objects of curiosity. This film stars Tony Cox (Bad Santa; Me, Myself, and Irene) and Martin Klebba (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales; Scrubs).
This 2015 drama uses the backdrop of basketball to tell the story of high school star Sergio Taylor who struggles to grapple with his fame as his family begins to falter after the death of his father. Starring Keke Palmer, Romeo Miller, and Macy Gray, the film didnt get great reviews when it was released and it didnt make much money, but there are a few positive reasons to watching. According to blackfilm.com, this ensemble film brings in enough elements from comedy to drama that it becomes a moving, enjoyable treat highlighted by surprising performances.
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Hes one of the best point guards in NBA history, but for those who are unfamiliar, Allen Iversonhas quite a backstory. He grew up in poverty in Virginia, and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of a felony stemming from a bowling alley fight at the age of 17 (his term was eventually granted clemency by Virginias governor). He managed to become an 11-time NBA All-Star, and in this 2014 Showtime documentary, Iverson tells much of his story himself. Along with plenty of highlights from his career, the film shows the impact Iverson had on the league with his basketball talents, the way he wore his clothes, and the tattoos he displayed. And yes, the movie talks about the practice?!? rant that might be the most famous press conference moment in sports history.
6) 1000 to 1: The Cory Weissman Story
The title sounds like a documentary, but its not. Its actually a 2014 video release based on a true story and stars Disney actor David Henrie and Beau Bridges. Henrie plays the role of Cory Weissman, a star high school basketball who was supposed to become a top player for Gettysburg College. But before his sophomore season, Weissman suffered a stroke, leaving the entire left side of his body non-functional. The film shows Weissmans journey back to the court. Is it a great movie? Not particularly. In fact, one IMDB review called it, a half-ass Hallmark movie of the week. But could it help an athlete in need of some inspiration? Sure.
7) One in a Billion
This is the story of Satnam Singh Bhamara, a 7-foot-2 basketball prospect who was brought to the U.S. to try to become the first India-born player in the NBA. This 2016 documentary features NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and it takes Bhamara from the rural village of Balloke to the NBA Draft in New York. Satnam’s story is certainly his own, producer Michael Ratner told Sporting News. Satnam, he gets it. And he got it as a 15-year-old. His family was, not dependent on him, but in his mind, he had to do it for his family, had to do it for his village, had to do it for his coaches in India and Ludhiana who taught him the sport, for all of India.
What do you get when you cross Jim Belushi, NBA star Kevin Durant, and theclichd older-person-switches-bodies-with-a-younger-person movie trope? You get Thunderstruck, a 2012 family comedy that shows what would happen if Durants elite talent suddenly got transferred to an unathletic high school student who suddenly becomes his schools star player.
9) On the Shoulders of Giants
This 2011 documentary tells the tale of the New York Renaissance, aka Harlem Rens, an all-black squad from the 1920s that was the greatest team youve never heard of. Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbaris the driving force behind this film which features appearances by Maya Angelou, Charles Barkley, and Spike Lee. The Rens were a barnstorming team that was good enough to win the 1939 World Championship of Professional Basketball, which featured the countrys 12 best pro squads. One of the documentarys most interesting questions is why the Rens are long forgotten while the Harlem Globetrotterscontinue to exist and thrive.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.