Published on June 7th 2010 by Leon Shepherd

After reviewing several sports movies, I was finally able to come up with my top ten best. The movies I chose are well-acted and directed and have all the elements that create good drama; love, competition, passion, and glory. So, without further ado, here’s my Top 10 Best Black Sports Movies of all time. Let the top 10 debate begin!


10. He Got Game


He Got Game is a 1998 sports-drama movie written and directed by Spike Lee. It stars Denzel Washington as Jake Shuttlesworth, a prison inmate convicted for murdering his wife. The father of the top-ranked basketball prospect in the country, Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), Jake is released on parole for a week by the state’s governor in order to persuade his son to play for the governor’s alma mater in exchange for a heavily-reduced prison sentence.


9.  Above The Rim


Above the Rim is a 1994 movie, starring Duane Martin, Leon, Tupac Shakur, and Marlon Wayans. The movie tells the story of a promising New York City high school basketball star and his relationships with two people; one a drug dealer and the other a basketball star now employed as a security guard at his former high school.


8. Coach Carter


Coach Carter is a 2005 film from Paramount Pictures, directed by Thomas Carter. (The White Shadow)  The movie, based on a true story, stars Samuel L. Jackson as basketball coach Ken Carter. In the movie, Carter tries to teach his players that there’s more to life than basketball.  To show that he’s serious, he benches his undefeated team due to poor academic results.


7. Hoop Dreams


Hoop Dreams is a critically acclaimed 1994 documentary film. It follows the story of two African-American high school students in Chicago and their dream of becoming professional basketball players. Originally intended to be a 30-minute short produced for the Public Broadcasting Service, it eventually led to five years of filming and 250 hours of footage. It premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. Despite its length (171 minutes) and unlikely commercial genre, it received high critical and popular acclaim. It was on more critics’ top ten lists than any other film that year, including Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, and The Shawshank Redemption. 


6. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars


The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings is a comedic sports movie about a team of enterprising ex-Negro League baseball players in the era of racial segregation. The movie stars Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor. The movie was produced by Berry Gordy and released by Universal on November 17, 1976.


5. Love & Basketball


Love & Basketball is a 2000 romantic drama starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. It is the story of two next-door neighbors in Los Angeles, California who grew up loving basketball and, eventually, loving each other.


4. Brian’s Song



Brian’s Song is a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week that recounts the details of the life of Brian Piccolo a white football player stricken with terminal cancer, and his friendship with African American Chicago Bears running back teammate and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams), who helps him through the difficult struggle. The movie is based on Sayers’ account of his friendship with Piccolo and coping with Piccolo’s illness in Sayers’ autobiography, I Am Third. The production was such a success on ABC television (November 30, 1971) that it was later shown in theaters.


3. When We Were Kings



When We Were Kings is a 1996 documentary film about the famous Rumble in the Jungle heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman held in Zaire on October 30, 1974. It highlights Muhammad Ali’s trademark wit and charisma, as well as his superb skill in the ring during the fight itself.


2. White Men Can’t Jump


White Men Can’t Jump is a 1992 film starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson as basketball hustlers. The movie, which co-stars Rosie Perez, is enjoyable and quite entertaining, especially during the basketball scenes.


1. Remember The Titans



Remember the Titans is a sports drama released in 2000. This wonderful movie stars Denzel Washington as Coach Herman Boone.  The movie, based on a true story, centers around the newly integrated T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. The black and white members of the football team clash in racially-motivated conflicts on a few occasions while at football camp, but after forceful coaxing and team building efforts by Coach Boone, the team achieves both harmony and success.

Entertainment, Sports | Comments (28)

28 Responses to “Top 10 Best Black Sports Movies”

  1. Rick Boyer Says:

    I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

  2. Leon Says:

    Thanks Rick!

  3. rod moore Says:

    Remember the Titans is a obvious no 1 Everytime we watch it we need a box of tissue its so emotional & heartwarming. Question why didnt it make the best list for alltime movie? I thought about it at the time.

  4. Leon Says:

    Rod, good point. Titans happens to be one of my favorite movies.

  5. Shack Says:

    Nice list as always.
    Resident Historian Time – Believe “The Great White Hope” warrants consideration. It is of course the dramatization of the 1st Black Hwyt. Champ Jack Johnson starring J.E. Jones.

    Also thought of another movie that is both a love & sports story with one of my “least favorite” actors. It is “Body & Soul” starring the beautiful Jayne Kennedy and her pathetic “limp noodle” of an ex-husband, Leon.

    Then of course the way my mind works, I thought of the “Penetintary” trilogy, none of which deserve consideration for this list but just throwing it out there for consumption.

  6. Leon Shepherd Says:

    Shack, “The Great White Hope” was considered. Not quite a top ten, but in the top twenty.

  7. grapevine Says:

    How could you omit “The Hurricane”?

  8. Shack Says:

    Agree with R.T.T. as tops on this list and thanks for even listing Bingo Long which was a very entertaining movie from the mid-70′s and produced by Motown (Gordy).

    “When We Were Kings” is a GREAT Documentary as is the more current “Thrilla in Manila” which as you know, depicts the 3rd Ali/Frazier bout and takes a little luster off Ali!

  9. Leon Says:

    Grapevine, good question, here’s the answer. “The Hurricane” is another one of my favorite movies, but it has very little sports/boxing in it to be considered a legitimate sports movie. As you know, most of the movie is based on “The Hurricane’s ” imprisonment and his fight for freedom. Less than a fourth of the movie shows him in the ring. Great movie, but not a sports movie.

  10. Shack II Says:

    GG – Good catch and I believe it has enough ring footage and should qualify (all these movies have a story and are all not just about the respective sport) in R.T.T. is was racism in that town.

    Rod M. What do you think…can you help break the tie?

  11. Trisha Says:

    Leon,I am surprised you had no mention of “The Express” starring Rob Brown telling the story of Ernie Davis, the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner. Not to mention “Rebound” starring Don Cheadle or “Pride” with Terrance Howard and Bernie all three were based on true stories. Thanks for including L & B, my all time favorite but more a love/coming of age story vs a “sports” movie. Keep up the good work.

  12. Leon Says:

    Trisha, “Pride” almost made the list. It was very close.
    I didn’t see “The Express.”
    And the only movie I know titled, “Rebound,” is the basketball movie starring Martin Lawrence. That movie received no consideration at all.

  13. Lenora Dorsey Says:

    Great list Leon. I’m late tonight and everything has already been said. Love & basketball is my favorite as far as a love story goes.

  14. Shack Says:

    Ms. Trisha-You’re right The Express was very good.
    The actor who played E. Davis was great but they tried to pass off the guy who played Lem in the TV version of Soul Food as Jim Brown which didn’t work in my opinion.

  15. grapevine Says:

    I think the Hurricane is more of a sports movie than “white men can’t jump.”

  16. Trisha Says:

    Leon, I can send you a copy of The Express. Once you see it you will know what I mean. Rebound is the story of Earl “The Goat” Manigault. James Earl Jones, Eric LaSalle and Forest Whitaker are also in that movie. I don’t know how you picked WMCJ over Pride, the only real catigory it fit in was competition. The best part of that movie was when Rosie Perez landed on Jeopardy.

  17. Leon Says:

    Trisha, I did see the movie Rebound about the story of Earl “The Goat” Manigoat. I was not impressed. The main reason was because Don Cheadle was not convincing as a basketball player. In addition to his limited basketball skills, the real Earl “The Goat” Manigault” was 6’1”. Don Cheadle is 5’8.”
    Because a movie is based on someones life, does not make it a great movie.
    And regarding, WMCJ…I’m willing to bet any amount of money, that if you ask anyone what they liked about WMCJ, it won’t be Rosie Perez on Jeopardy.

  18. Shack II Says:

    Again, Good point Grapevine. I kinda agree and I like this debate – Talk about limited basketball skills, there were so many camera angles, switches and other tricks (6/7ft rims etc)to make W&W appear as though they were players concerning WMCJ (especially the fake A$$ dunk they showed Wesley doing). But I must say I don’t recall much about “Rebound” so I need to see it again since I have much respect for the acting talents of Cheadle. Perhaps Leon would like the movie more had it starred Cuba Gooding J.LOL

  19. rod moore Says:

    Shack, RTT (Return of the Titans) had more sports footage than The Hurricane Grapevine. From camp to the games it had the feel of a sports movie regardless of the overall story. The actors actually went to camp to make the film more authentic & Sunshine (Kip Pardue) played Quarterback in college.

  20. Shack Says:

    Leon/Rod – Still agree with Grapevine that Hurricaine is just as much, if not more than a so-called sports movie Than WMCJ! Suggest we call an expert in the field of basketball…how about Hopper (R. Daniels) to get his input!

  21. Shack Says:

    Rod – On a serious note, the issue with G.T.(Grapevine), Leon and I really centers on Hurricaine vs. WMCJ. Was WMCJ a “sports movie” or was it about two outdoor bball court hustlers and their home life vs. a true story about a mw boxing champion and time he spent fighting false imprisonment!

  22. rod moore Says:

    Got to side with Leon on this Shack/Grady. RTT is more of a sports movie then Hurricane. When the best known scene in a so called sports movie is Rosie perezs scene on Jeopardy you got problems. The Express was much better than WMCJ. Peace.

  23. Shack II Says:

    So you agree Hurricane is more of a sports movie than WMCJ, Correct?

  24. rod moore Says:

    Absolutely WMCJ was a movie about Hustling not sports so yes Hurricane is much more of a sports movie than WMCJ. Sorry about the misunderstanding my Brother. Peace

  25. Trisha Says:

    Guys, first it is Remember the Titans not Return of the Titans and Rod you have to admit Rosie Perez was in a “ZONE” on Jeopardy. But The Express beats WMCJ and Hurricaine hands down.

  26. rod moore Says:

    Yes Rosie was in a Zone but that proves the point of it not being a real sports movie. Nothing pertaining to sports stood out. No struggle bonding or point of achievement as in Titans or some of the other sports movies mentioned.

  27. The Bingo Zone Says:

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  28. Straaw Says:

    Cool list Shep. On mines- I wouldn’t have Hoop Dreams or White men can’t Jump. Wouldn’t have Love & Basketball either. my List. 1.Fast Break-Gabe Kaplan, Bernard King 2. The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh-Julius Erving.