A League of YOUR Own:  The Ultimate Basketball Movie Guide & The Film Fantasy Final Four

What happens when you take the top 20 “fictional basketball players” and the top 4 “fictional coaches” and split them up into four super teams?! Let the trash talking begin!

This weekend, basketball fans from across the nation will tune in to one of America’s greatest sports event – the final four.

The marquee event is like the Oscars for college basketball with the four best college teams in the country squaring off to turn four into two, and then two into the one team that will clear the benches, cut the nets down (cue the theme song from Chariots of Fire) and claim the national championship crown.

One of the best parts of tournament madness is the dialogue it creates among not just basketball fans, but regular, everyday novices.

Not many people can resist the urge to fill out a bracket and test their knowledge of the game against their peers. This is the same kind of competitive battle of ideologies that Cinephiles have over their favorite movies, especially when it comes to their own prized basketball movie. Because if there are two things that people love to debate, it’s sports and movies.

Seriously, there are basketball fans who have been arguing since 1996 about whether or not Shaq should have appeared as a jovial genie in the critically panned film Kazaam. Honestly, I didn’t think the movie was all that bad because Shaq, I mean “Kazaam”, did grant the kid in the flick 3 wishes. I just wish “Kazaam” had been more of a traditional genie instead of one that came out of a boombox.

Think about what makes a basketball movie so revered…the high stakes drama and the passion to overcome insurmountable odds. From Hoosiers and White Man Can’t Jump to Space Jam and Teen Wolf.

Now, imagine that all of the players and coaches from these movies are real. And here’s the half-court, mind-bender: What if we took the top 20 “fictional basketball players” and the top four “fictional coaches” – from such movies – and split them up into four super teams?!

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Who would win this ultimate basketball movie fantasy final four?

Get ready to place your bets and may the best basketball movie “fantasy final four” win!

THE BEST BASKETBALL MOVIES / FILM FANTASY FINAL FOUR


TEAM PETE BELL

Coach: Pete Bell
Captain: Nick Nolte
Game: Blue Chips

Play: In Blue Chips, Pete Bell is under a lot of pressure to bring back the glory days of his fictional college, Western University. He will stop at nothing to be on top of the mountain once again and resorts to pay-to-play to attract “blue chip” players to his program. I suspect he’ll take this mentality into our basketball movie final four by putting together this team:

1.) Jesus Shuttlesworth

Captain: Former NBA Star, Ray Allen
Game: He Got Game
Play: In He Got Game, Jesus Shuttlesworth is the number one high school player in the country who is being recruited by all the Division I schools. His father, Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington) is serving time in Attica for accidently killing his mother during an argument when Jesus was 12. The Governor of New York gives Jake a temporary pardon so that he can persuade Jesus to attend the fictional college, Big State, which happens to be the Governor’s alma mater.

2.) Scott Howard (Teen Wolf)

Captain: Michael J. Fox
Game: Teen Wolf
Play: Scott Howard is an average basketball player for his high school team until he turns into a werewolf and becomes as unstoppable as Wilt Chamberlain. From shooting the lights out, to mouth dropping dunks, Teen Wolf is a secret (and potential “lethal”) weapon any team would want, possessing strength, ability, and mythological powers. In this basketball movie, Scott plays the championship game as “the wolf man” so he can, you know, learn that it’s best when you can just be your shape shifting-self. And I’m sure Pete Bell will make sure he’s in full-on beast mode.

3.) Antoine Tyler (The 6th Man)

Captain: Kadeem Hardison
Game: The 6th Man
Play: Antoine and Kenny Tyler (Marlon Waynes) are brothers who are star basketball players for the Washington University Huskies. The season is going well, until Antoine has a heart attack and dies on the court. The team starts to go down the drain, until Antoine comes back as a ghost that helps them make it all the way to the championship game. Like I said, Pete Bell will stop at nothing to win, so even a ghost is fair game.

4.) Monica Wright

Actress: Sanaa Lathan
Game: Love and Basketball
Play: Monica Wright goes from the girl who can beat the boys, to a high school star, to an international champion, and finally a WNBA superstar. Her game is as fiery as her temper, and she’s not afraid to blow past the men on her way to two points in this critically-acclaimed basketball movie.

5.) Quincy McCall

Captain: Omar Epps
Game: Love and Basketball
Play: You can’t have Monica on the team without her teammate (Love and Basketball) and love of her life off the court, Quincy McCall. In the film, Quincy’s father was a NBA star for the LA Clippers, so he has the gifted gene and if not for a big time injury, Quincy would have had a career with the Lakers. Coach Bell will want some chemistry, so keeping these co-star lovers together would be his best move.

TEAM BIRDIE

Coach: Birdie
Captain: Tupac Shakur
Game: Above the Rim

Play: If there was ever a coach who had more star power than his players, it is without a doubt Tupac as Birdie in the basketball movie, Above the Rim. In his unique coaching uniform of a bandanna and timberland boots, Birdie is a former street hustler who ordered the hit of an opposing player when he lost a game. He only wants tough and street smart players, so who will he draft?

1.) Neon Boudeaux

Captain: Shaquille O’Neal
Game: Blue Chips
Play: In terms of talent, Shaq is basically playing himself in the movie. The character Neon is a hidden gem from Louisiana who becomes a dominant force for the fictional Western University.

2.) Sidney Deane

Captain: Wesley Snipes
Game: White Men Can’t Jump
Play: Sidney Deane is a family man trying to move his family out of a tough LA neighborhood. To achieve this, he hustles unsuspecting basketball players by betting on games throughout Southern California. While his style is more playground than hardwood, his arrogant attitude and street smarts fits right in with Coach Birdie’s style.

3.) Billy Hoyle

Captain: Woody Harrelson
Game: White Men Can’t Jump
Play: Sidney Deane is not as effective without his partner in crime, Billy Hoyle. Billy is also the reason why Sidney wins so much money hustling. Nobody thinks Billy can play ball because he’s white and everybody knows…“White Men Can’t Jump.” So Billy becomes Birdie’s hustle because once he gets out there, you’ll be sorry you underestimated him.

4.) Ricky Roe

Captain: Matt Nover
Game: Blue Chips
Play: From French Lick Indiana (home of Larry Bird), Ricky is a tall and athletic swingman that opposing coaches find it hard to stop. In the film, to secure his letter of intent to play at Western University, he demanded a new tractor for his father, who is a farmer. I’m sure Birdie wouldn’t mind spending some of that street money to shore up his front court and reunite Ricky with his film teammate, Neon Boudeaux.

5.) Odin “O” James

Captain: Mekhi Phifer
Game: “O”
Play: In this modern day adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Othello, Mekhi Phifer plays Odin James, a superstar high school basketball player who gets set up by his best friend and falls from grace. Odin is a great addition to this controversial team, but also a liability with all the Shakespearean drama going on in this treacherous and tragic basketball movie.

TEAM CARTER

Coach: Coach Thomas Carter
Captain: Samuel L. Jackson
Game: Coach Carter

Play: Coach Carter didn’t take any sh**! He came back to Richmond, California to coach his old high school team when the school and the city are in turmoil, besieged by crime and poverty. He first establishes a code of conduct and makes his players sign contracts that require them to keep their grades up and wear dress shirts and ties on game day. His team included lots of good players, as well as knuckleheads and outcasts. He can coach anybody, so who’s on his team?

1.) Space Jam Michael Jordan

Captain: Michael Jordan
Game: Space Jam
Play: Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time and maybe the most famous athlete on the planet, even in his retirement. Space Jam Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the galaxy. I put him on Coach Carter’s team because I couldn’t resist the image in my head of Samuel L. Jackson coaching Michael Jordan. (Now you can’t get it out of your head, right?)

2.) Buddy

Captain: The Golden Retriever “Air Buddy”
Game: Air Bud
Play: Ok, I know what you’re thinking…“Rob, how are you going to put a dog on this list?” And to that I say, “HAVE YOU EVER SEEN AIR BUD?!” That dog could shoot, and if this team is going to have the greatest player in the galaxy (MJ), the only way to even the odds is to pair him with an animal. That’s not saying anything against Buddy who in the film leads his pal Josh’s middle school team to a title. And like I said, Coach Carter can coach anybody.

3.) Jackie Moon

Captain: Will Ferrell
Game: Semi Pro
Play: In another attempt to even out Coach Carter’s team (Come on! He’s got Michael Jordan!), I give you Jackie Moon from Semi Pro. Will Ferrell plays a one hit wonder singer who uses his royalties to buy a basketball team that he also coaches and plays for. He’s not much on talent, but he’s huge on entertainment. He’s full of antics, but something tells me Coach Carter will get him in line.

4.) Jimmy Chitwood

Captain: Maris Valainis
Game: Hoosiers
Play: In 1951, Jimmy Chitwood is the best high school basketball player in the small town of Hickory, Indiana. The only problem is he won’t play for the high school team because of family issues. The team struggles until Jimmy returns midseason and they goes on a run to the state championship where he hits the game winning shot. He’s basically the 1951 Steph Curry. Let’s give Michael a little help.

5.) Kyle Watson

Captain: Duane Martin
Game: Above the Rim
Play: In the film, Kyle Watson is the best high school basketball player in New York. He is on his way to Georgetown on a full scholarship. His only problem is his ego and temper could cost him the bright future he is sure to have. If anybody can help him reach his full potential, it’s these teammates and this coach.

TEAM DALE

Coach: Norman Dale
Captain: Gene Hackman
Game: Hoosiers

Play: Many people rank Hoosiers as the greatest basketball movie of all time. While I might not personally agree, Coach Dale was a hell of a motivator, taking a 7 player team from the small rural town of Hickory all the way to the state championship. Dale earned trust among his players by helping them overcome personal and emotional struggles. One of his tactics to encourage teamwork was to have his players pass the ball at least four times before they shoot. He was a disciplinarian with a sharp basketball mind. So who would be a good fit for this team?

1.) Butch McRae

Captain: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway
Game: Blue Chips
Play: Butch McRae is played by former NBA All-Star point guard Penny Hardaway. In the film, Butch is a tough, unselfish guard from Chicago who is one of the most coveted recruits in the country before he decides to attend Western University. He gets homesick and it affects his play. Butch is the perfect player for Coach Dale. After he helps him with his homesickness, McRae will be the dominant star player for this team.

2.) Shep

Captain: Leon Robinson
Game: Above the Rim
Play: In the film, Leon plays Thomas Sheppard a former basketball legend that fell from grace. He comes back to town to take a job as a security guard. By the end of the movie, he comes out of retirement and in a dazzling scoring performance helps Kyle Watson win a playground tournament. Shep has a lot of inner demons, which makes him fit right in with this team of troubled stars.

3.) Jamal Wallace

Captain: Rob Brown
Game: Finding Forrester
Play: Basketball aside, Rob Brown, who had no prior acting experience, is amazing in his premiere performance as Jamal Wallace. In the film, Jamal is a standout player who gets recruited to play for a prestigious private school. While his talent on the court is evident, Jamal is also a talented writer. His skill in the classroom is overshadowed by his skill on the court, which makes it difficult for him to break the image of being “just a ball player.”

4.) Richard “Cochise” Morris

Captain: Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs
Game: Cooley High
Play: This is the oldest basketball movie in this article, but Cooley High is a classic coming of an age film – set to a classic Motown soundtrack – about black teens growing up in 1960’s Chicago. Cochise, the star basketball player at Edwin G. Cooley Vocational High School, is on his way to a full scholarship if he can just make it through the rough and distracting streets of Chicago. Sounds like a perfect fit for Team Dale.

5.) Buggs Bunny

Captain: Bugs Bunny
Film: Space Jam
Play: Come on…how can I leave Bugs out? Just seeing him in a basketball jersey is the coolest thing ever! Some would argue that this is an incomplete team with four players and a rabbit. But that’s where Coach Dale comes in. In Hoosiers, he famously sent his team out on the court with four players (one less than required) because one of his players wouldn’t listen to him. If he can do it and win in Hoosiers….I’m just saying…

So the four basketball movie teams are set. Their coaches are ready to lead them to victory. This is where you, the reader comes in. Based on their respective movies, and how the characters would play with each other and respond to their coaches, who would win this basketball movie fantasy final four?

Let the trash talking begin!

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