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Basketball season flicks

Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05


Karina Rodriguez/ The Prospector

   With the anticipated return of UTEP basketball season, students will now be able to catch a game live, but for those who also want to watch basketball stories in feature film form, here are a couple of films on the sport that stand as the best and most enjoyable.

“Hoosiers”— Widely considered by critics and publications, including ESPN, as one of the best sports film in history, “Hoosiers” is sincere, entertaining and full of heart. Featuring an outstanding cast led by Gene Hackman and starring Barbara Hershey, Brad Long and Dennis Hopper—in an Academy Award-nominated performance—the 1986 film tells the inspirational story of an Indiana high school basketball team that, against all odds, makes it to the state championship. Deemed culturally significant by the Library of Congress in 2001 and a recipient of AFI awards, including fourth Best Sports Movie, “Hoosiers” remains a classic of the sports genre and is a perfect watch this season.

“Coach Carter”— Starring Samuel L. Jackson—in an acclaimed performance as the protagonist—the 2005 film is based on true events that caught the media’s attention because of coach Carter’s decision to bench the MVPs due to their  poor grades. With a cast of future up and coming actors, including Octavia Spencer (Academy Award winner), Channing Tatum and Ashanti, among others, the film manages to be inspirational like most sports movies do.

“He Got Game”— Produced and directed by Spike Lee, the 1988 film features an exceptional cast that includes Denzel Washington, NBA star Ray Allen, John Turturro, Rosario Dawson, Ned Beatty, Bill Nunn, Milla Jovovich and cameos by NBA stars Shaquille O’ Neal, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. The film was acclaimed for its characterization and Lee’s approach to the story of a convicted felon (Washington) who is released for a week to see his son sign for a major university. Featuring Lee’s trademark thought-provoking ideas, plus great performances and commentary on contemporary issues, “He Got Game” was one of the great collaborations between Lee and Washington and definitely proves that it’s not your average sports film.

“Glory Road”— The 2006 film tells the true story of the 1966 Texas Western College basketball team on their road to the national championship against the Kentucky Wildcats, during which they made NCAA history as the first all black starter lineup in a championship game. The movie was partly filmed at UTEP, was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and was directed by James Gartner. With a remarkable performance by Josh Lucas as the late great Don Haskins and wonderful supporting roles from Derek Luke, Austin Nichols and Jon Voight, the film is inspirational, gritty and triumphant. The film won an ESPY award for best sports movie and attained the number one spot at the box office during its opening weekend.

“Space Jam”— If you are a kid from the ‘90s, you probably remember this delightfully entertaining, wacky pop culture mash-up film that brought together the Looney Tunes with Michael Jordan. Produced by Ivan Reitman, director of “Ghostbusters,” and directed by Joe Pytka, the film finds Jordan joining forces with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the gang in a death basketball match against a group of aliens who steal the talents of the best basketball players of the NBA to become the Monstars. With supporting roles from Wayne Knight, Bill Murray, Larry Bird, a handful of real NBA stars and a collection of ‘90s songs including R. Kelly’s “I Believe I can Fly,” “Space Jam” is witty and funny basketball entertainment for the entire family. “Finding Forrester”— The 2000 film was directed by acclaimed director Gus Van Sant (“Milk,” “Good Will Hunting”) and it starred Academy Award winner Sean Connery, along with a dynamite cast that includes F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Rob Brown and Michael Pitt. The film tells the story of Jamal Wallace, an African-American student who gets invited to attend a high-status school. Wallace enjoys playing basketball with his friends and meets a writer who is a bit of a recluse and through their unlikely friendship a bond is born. With Van Sant’s indie approach, the well-developed relationship between the characters makes “Finding Forrester” another touching basketball movie.

Oscar Garza may be reached at


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