In the spirit of the NBA delivering us the sad news today, we figured we could help lighten the mood by bringing you some of the finer moments in sports film.
Sports hold a special place in the hearts of Americans and possibly more so in the black community. Sports gives us a chance to spend time with one another, eat, drink, and be merry amongst our family and friends. When translated to film, sports allows us to see many of societies ills from a perspective that we might not have understood otherwise.
Some of the movies we have chosen are funny, heart-warmning, heart-breaking, dramatic, or just downright sad. In any case, watching stories about life through tragedy, competitiveness, and triumph within a game has brought us great pieces of cinema that should be recognized.
So, without further ado BOSSIP brings you the best black sports films of all time.
Flip the script to peep the list.
Above The Rim (1994)
This hood classic stars Duane Martin, Tupac Shakur, Leon, and Marlon Wayans. Kyle Lee Watson (Duane Martin) is a promising basketball talent that is caught between his coach and local street thug Birdie (Tupac Shakur). This is 90’s New York film at it’s finest, not to mention the soundtrack was BANGIN’!
Any Given Sunday (1999)
While you may not consider this a “Black” movie, keep in mind that outside of Al Pacino and Cameron Diaz, all of the other important roles were filled by African-American actors. Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Lawrence Taylor, Lela Rachon, Jim Brown, Bill Bellamy all made major contributions to carrying this Oliver Stone film along.
This film also was a break-out performance by Jamie Foxx with his unforgettable role as “Steamin'” Willy Beamen
Coach Carter (2005)
Coach Carter becomes a persona no grata in town when he benches his entire basketball team for not maintaining his academic standards. Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez (you know, that random Puerto Rican kid that pops up in various movies), and Ashanti star in this flick and although it may not be a hood classic, it definitely has some redeeming value and heart-warming moments.
He Got Game (1998)
One of many great sports movies that the great Denzel Washington has starred in, this Spike Lee joint is a a fan favorite amongst the urban community. Despite a luckluster acting job by NBA Champion, Boston Celtic, Ray Allen, this film was undoubtedly awesome if for no other reason than Ray’s character’s EPIC name “Jesus Shuttlesworth”.
Not “Hay-soos” mind you, but “Jesus”.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
This documentary about two young Chicago teenagers named Arthur Agee and William Gates took the nation by storm in 1994. Spanning 5 years, we see these young men go through tragedy, triumph and everything in between. Possibly one of the most intense sports documentary ever made.
The Hurricane (1999)
In our second Denzel Washington sighting, this gripping drama was based on the true story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter as his boxing career came to an abrupt end when he was wrongly arrested for murder. While in prison, Carter comes in contact with the stereotypical White “saviors” some good hearted folks that believe in him and fight to see him vindicated of the heinous crime.
Love and Basketball (2000)
With the combination of Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan it’s no wonder that the black community, specifically the ladies, took to this movie so strongly. In many sports flicks, one usually doesn’t get such an emotional love story but that is exactly what this one delivers.
The whole playing one-on-one thing at the end was kinda cheesy, but we digress…
Rebound: The Legend of Earl Manigault (1996)
Don Cheadle starred in this dramatization about the life of Earl “The Goat” Manigault. Earl was an ex-con and junkie that came back to his home of Harlem New York to help young children. Also making appearances are James Earl Jones, Loretta Devine, and Glynn Turman of Different World fame.
Remember The Titans (2000)
For our third Denzel Washington sighting, he stars as football coach Herman Boone in a Virginia town with segregated High Schools. When two local schools integrate, and Boone is given the head coach job over a more successful White coach, tension ensues. Based on a true story, this movie might be one of the best sports flicks ever made, Black or otherwise…
Sunset Park (1996)
“It’s time to get live, it’s time to represent, Sunset Park what time is it?!” was the great rally cry of a struggling high school basketball team that was in need of a serious attitude adjustment. Starring Rhea Pearlman, Fredo Starr of rap group Onyx, Terrence Howard, and comedians Talent Harris and Guy Torry this was another shining moment in “hip-hop flicks” that came with an awesome soundtrack.
White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes created one of the best on-screen buddy combos of all time with there roles as Billy “Hoe” Hoyle and Sidney Deane. These two hot-rodding basketball hustlers attempt to come up off of the unwitting neighborhood brothas who underestimate the “white boy” on the court. With Rosie Perez playing Hoyle’s dedicated, Jeopardy guru, girlfriend the hilarity ensues over and over again. This flick easily qualifies as the funniest of all black sports films.
Brian’s Song (1977)
Gale Sayers joins the Chicago Bears and is befriended by Brian Piccolo, an over-achieving running back. Although they compete for the same spot on the team, and despite the fact that Sayers is black and Piccolo white, they become roommates on the road and very close friends, especially when Sayers is injured and Piccolo helps his recovery. Later, they and their wives must both deal with the harsh reality of Piccolo’s cancer.
Cool Runnings (1993)
Ok, so maybe you don’t respect bobsledding as a sport, but it is part of the Olympics and you can win a gold medal so it should be at least acknowledged if nothing else. This hilarious comedy was actually based on a true story of a man seeking to assemble the first Jamican bobsled team in order to achieve Olympic redemption after a cheating scandal strips him of his medals. Starring the late John Candy along with Doug E. Doug, Malik Yoba, and Leon.