Basketball season is upon us yet again - my favorite time of the sports year and a joyous period of jubilation and glee. My beloved UK Cats are finally poised to yet again take their rightful place amongst the nation's finest teams and all is right with the world - as long as their new coach and freshman sensation live up to the hype.
This Saturday will be the first major test for John Calipari and the new look boys of bluegrass, as they take on the decade's most successful program, the North Carolina Tarheels, and it will begin my viewing season as well. While planning on taking the day to watch this gem, and preparing myself for the joy of an afternoon with the boys, the thought ran through my mind - what are the best basketball movies ever made, and why?
My short list:
"Hoosiers" - Everybody's first thought when the subject of sports movies pops up, or at least near the top. Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper each turn in fine performances, especially Hopper, and the supporting cast is excellent as well. The basketball action is believable, whereas most basketball movies are full of guy who can barely run, and every boy in gym shorts wishes to be Jimmy Chitwood for at least a day.
I say pick it if you haven't seen it yet. If you have seen it, watch it again.
"Blue Chips" - The plot is pretty weak and predictable, and the players picked to be in the cast are fairly bad, but Nick Nolte is Nick Nolte, and J.T. Walsh (One of my favorite characters of all time, as is his brother M. Emmet Walsh.) is fantastic as always. The basketball action looks good, with Shaq, Penny, and others joining in on the fun, and there are enough college cameos to make the film worth watching. Pretty good stuff if you're a fan.
Not a must-see, but definitely worth picking up at a flea market somewhere.
"The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" - Dr. J. Julius Erving. That's all I can say about this movie. If you have seen it, and you are familiar with the ridiculous nature of the film and its '70's era kitsch, then you know that it's inclusion on this list is comical, but essential.
Kids will still love it. Watch it if you are a fan of the early '80's Sixers. Or maybe not - it might wipe away a little of the Philly shine.
"Hoop Dreams" - Many consider this to be the finest basketball film ever made, and they might be right. This is a first-rate documentary following the lives of two very talented and distinctly different high school prospects through their high school heroics, stressful recruitment, and early college days. Very touching and poignant, and at times very sad.
Watch this film. You will not regret it it, especially if you are a fan of the game.
"Amazing Grace and Chuck" - Alex English can act, albeit rather stiltedly, and he pulls off playing the world's greatest basketball player pretty well in this tear-jerker that has less to do with basketball than with the state of the world today, and one small boy's quest to rid the world of nuclear arms. It also features the incomparable Gregory Peck and the inimitable Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as a host of notable athletes. I really like this film and its message, and it is really well done.
Good stuff. Very much worth buying and watching.
"White Men Can't Jump" - Woody Harrelson is tremendous. Wesley Snipes is great. Rosie Perez is hilarious. Ron Shelton makes the best sports movies around. Put all that together, and you have a darn fine basketball movie full of humor, wit, deserved and undeserved stereotypes, and Rosie Perez. Who could ask for more.
Get it if you don't have it, and bone up on a few Jeopardy questions along the way. Great stuff.
I'm sure there are others that I have left out, and many more that deserve inclusion, so let me know if you want. Leave a comment or two and tell me waht you think.
And enjoy the upcoming season - I know I will.
|Mike Mahaffey Tribute at Capone's|
|Regional musicians convene for the annual Mike Mahaffey Tribute at Capone's in Johnson City. Featured performers include Matt Mahaffey, Hans Rottenberry, The Butcher Covers, Tad Dickens, Terry McCoy, Bo Bradley, Quentin Horton, Stinky Finger, Andrea Hoskins, and more.|