The 24 Best Basketball Movies on Disney Plus in 2023

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If you’re a fan of hardwood drama (or comedy, or anything really) you can find some great basketball movies on Disney Plus, including a ton of the best basketball movies for kids (as you’d expect from Disney).

The selection spans from true-life stories to whimsical classics to cheesy teenage dramas to the often compelling ESPN produced 30 for 30 docs.

If you’re in a rush, here are some quick recommendations…

Rise is the most interesting and just all-around likable film on this list. Chang Can Dunk is the most recent addition, released to Disney Plus on March 10, 2023. If you’re into documentaries, Bad Boys from the 30-for-30 series is great.

Otherwise, read on. Here we cover all of the best basketball movies on Disney Plus in 2023, divided by genre, and ordered from great to… least great.

And hey! If you have Disney+, it’s very likely that you have the bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu. In which case, you should know there are also some great movies on Hulu and ESPN+ has a whole series of fantastic basketball documentaries.

If you also have Netflix, you might want to check out my list of basketball movies on Netflix. For a current list of the newest basketball movies, click over here. And if you’re just interested in great basketball movies overall, head over to my list of the greatest basketball movies of all time.

The Newest Basketball Movies on Disney Plus

Rise (2022)

Rise movie promotional image (2022)

I love a good underdog story, and this one delivers. The Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is maybe the best player in the NBA today. He and two of his brothers are the first group of 3 brothers to have all won NBA championships. A fourth brother is on his way to the NBA.

Rise dramatizes the early struggles of the Antetokounmpo family. Four Antetokounmpo boys are born in Greece, but denied citizenship with their refugee parents. They discover a natural talent for basketball but are forced to contend with a hostile political climate as they pursue the opportunities that those talents present.

The boys would eventually triumph, Giannis leading the way, being drafted to the Bucks in 2013. All four of the boys would go on to become NBA draftees, and they would eventually reunite with their oldest brother who had been left behind in Nigeria when the senior Antetokounmpo’s made the break for a better life in Europe.

It’s a wild story and the production value is there. The movie is a little plodding at times, but enjoyable and certainly up-lifting. Definitely one of the best basketball movies on Disney Plus at the moment. It does kinda bring to mind the plight of all of the determined and hardworking refugees who aren’t impossibly good at sports though.

Chang Can Dunk (2023)

Chang Can Dunk movie promotional image (2023)

Brand new in 2023, Chang is a 5’8″ 16 year old with basketball dreams. Chang sets a wager with a young rival that within 10 weeks he will lay down a dunk on a full height rim. It’s your typical Disney Original kids sports movie. But this one cuts a little above for me in terms of quality.

The first half of this movie runs like a gem. I was invested. The basketball references and action were clicking, the story was functional, and I kept getting sucked into the copious references to 90’s-00’s basketball that punctuated my own childhood, presumably designed to keep the parents entertained.

Now, this is pretty easily one of my favorite Disney Originals of all time, second probably to Johnny Tsunami. Unfortunately, it takes a real dump around the halfway point. I always expect some character degradation in films of this… ilk? This happens with Chang can Dunk. And it kinda sucks.

Still, a good story. And the plot mostly survives, if battered. Basketball obviously plays a full role in this film, and we get some decently realistic basketball action. Totally watchable.

Kids Basketball Movies on Disney Plus

Like Mike (2002)

Like Mike movie promotional image (2002)

Overall a very watchable kids movie. This is your requisite rags-to-riches young phenom story with a little magic tossed in as Disney does. Lil Bow Wow (AKA Bow Wow) (AKA Calvin Cambridge) plays an orphan who stumbles upon a pair of Michael Jordan’s shoes that still have a little magic left in them.

The under-appreciated draw of this movie is the cast. Catch a very early performance by Jesse Plemons, a late performance by Jonathan Lipnicki, a deep cameo from Fred Armisen and plenty of ‘as himself’ appearances from NBA stars. Not to mention the always prime Eugene Levy.

The basketball element holds through the film, and includes some entertaining moves. You can currently watch both Like Mike and Like Mike 2 on Disney Plus. You can also stream it on Amazon.

Flubber (1997)

Flubber movie promotional image (1997)

John Hughes is largely responsible for the screenplay, though it doesn’t depart too far from the original. Reviews for this remake of 1961’s The Absent-Minded Professor (also in this list) were mostly negative. Still, there are multiple generations over whom Robin Williams holds a great deal of sway. While this is not his greatest performance by any means, it is still quite watchable.

The effects are kinda fun as well. This was a period in time where subtle effects issues could completely tank a movie. But you have a good matchup here in terms of the general vibes of the film and the quality of the effects. The flying robot is believable and the flubber animation is entertaining at least.

It isn’t until around 45 minutes in that we get the basketball connection. Williams’s Professor Brainard devises a plan to use his newly formulated compound to give his school’s basketball team an edge on the court. You won’t find high-end basketball choreography here, but it’s also not so nonsensical that it ruins the plot.

This one is also available to stream on Amazon.

The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)

The Absent-Minded Professor movie promotional image (1961)

I mean, it is a classic…

I’m not a huge fan of this era of live-action Disney movie, so my judgment is biased. But I’d rather watch Flubber. Nothing against Fred MacMurray, but I’d venture a guess that the average kid is going to agree with me that Robin Williams is just a more engaging personality.

Not to mention the fact that you would need to spend a considerable amount of time explaining to any modern kid why there are no colors in this film, and why all of the college kids look like they’re 45.

The Absent-Minded Professor ages better than the average 60-year-old kid’s movie though. It’s still worth watching for historical interest. The effects are mostly just hidden wires, but they’re played off to great and humorous effect. And I have to admit that the screenplay is solid.

Still, maybe think twice before subjecting your children unless they happen to be fantastically precocious.

Also available for pay-as-you-go streaming on Amazon.

High School Musical (2006)

High School Musical film promotional image (2006)

Who hasn’t struggled against societal expectations to live their true potential? I think it’s safe to say that High School Musical falls among the most beloved TV movies of all time and it can be credited with launching several careers.

The star basketball player hits it off with the brainy transfer student. They kinda accidentally audition for the school musical. Teenage chaos ensues as their friends and classmates try to impose their own expectations.

While basketball is an important plot element, we don’t see a lot of it being played beyond Zac Efron’s iconic turnaround jumpshot. It’s just not the main focus of the movie. This one is worth a watch if you’re in the demographic it was created for. But if that’s the case, you’ve maybe already seen it?

The basketball theme continues with the sequels High School Musical 2 and 3, which are also, technically, basketball movies on Disney Plus. But they’re probably not worth it unless you’ve seen the original and loved it.

Also available a la carte on Amazon streaming.

Glory Road (2006)

A dramatization of the 1966 Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at el Paso) basketball team’s run at the NCAA championship. The film dramatizes the true story of the rise of the Texas Western Miners and the obstacles they face as an all-black team.

The movie is a little slow. The style-choices are kinda weird and actually make the film feel much older than it is. But the topic is certainly worth exploring.

Also available on Amazon.

Full-Court Miracle (2003)

Full Court Miracle movie promotional image (2003)

A basketball-obsessed kid is trying to find a replacement for his team’s inept coach. He finds a struggling basketball pro in a park and manages to persuade teachers and administration to give him a chance. Sprinkle in a little Jewish lore and you’ve got… a movie.

This is Disney at its cringey best. It’s no Johnny Tsunami, but if you’re nostalgic for the weird Disney Original genre that is heartwarming hobble-crafted cable kids movies, this is probably up your alley.

The acting is above expectation. Plot and dialog are actually way above expectation. As a staunch agnostic, I’d normally not see a religious context as an upside, but the basketball world could maybe benefit from a little sensitivity to Judaism these days. And the Jewish undercurrent plays well. I’m into it.

The Luck of the Irish (2001)

The Luck of the Irish film promotional image (2001)

The key to 15 year old Kyle Johnson’s mysterious ancestry is his lucky coin. Well, as it turns out, he comes from a family of leprechauns and that coin is the source of the magic that is keeping he and his Mother concealed as humans.

Now Kyle has to get the coin back. And it all comes down to a basketball showdown where Kyle discovers he doesn’t actually need luck to be a winner.

Obviously this movie is ridiculous. I may be the most ridiculous basketball movie on Disney plus right now. But if you’re okay with that and some goofier Irish stereotypes, it works. Also a Disney Irish basketball movie kinda comes off like a plot selected by a pool full of manatees.

Double Teamed (2002)

Double Teamed film promotional image (2002)

If you’re looking for girl basketball movies on Disney Plus, this is probably the one. This or High School Musical.

Double Teamed is a Disney Channel Original Movie which tells a fictionalized version of the story of Heidi and Heather Burge, identical twins who both played for the WNBA in the late nineties.

The super-tall twins are switched to a new high school with a better athletics program in order to pursue volleyball scholarships. But before the volleyball season picks up, they get roped into the basketball program.

This is your quintessential Disney TV-movie. It’s not very well-produced, even by Disney Originals standards. But it functions well in its teen-girl sports drama niche. If your kids could use an upbeat (if dated) girl-power basketball movie, give it a shot.

Like Mike 2: Streetball (2006)

A mostly unimaginative reworking of the plot of the original with a streetball twist. If you loved the first movie, sure, give it a shot.

Series’ and Shorts

Double Dribble (1946)

A cartoon short, featuring a bunch of Goofy’s as dueling college basketball teams. This one is mildly entertaining and short enough that it won’t waste much of your time.

Big Shot (2021 series)

This is a new basketball series on Disney Plus. Marvyn Korn (John Stamos) is a volatile college basketball coach who is forced to take a position coaching for a High School girls team. We’ve got 2 seasons and 20 episodes so far, exclusive to Disney Plus. The show is fairly well-liked, presumably an attractant to Uncle Jessie fans of all manner. Personally, I appreciate Yvette Nicole Brown.

It’s a little on the side of what you’d expect. Modern and sassy High School girls dulling the edges of a driven basketball coach.

Documentaries on Disney Plus

D. Wade: Life Unexpected

Following Dwyane Wade from his troubled start in Chicago to his retirement from the NBA, this documentary is culled from a decade of interviews with Wade, one of the greatest NBA Shooting Guards of all time.

The flow of the film is a little haphazard and the middle portion drags. But it is a wonderfully honest portrait of a fantastic athlete as he develops, faces highs and lows, and takes down back-to-back championships with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013.

ESPN 30 for 30 Basketball Documentaries on Disney Plus

In 2009, ESPN started rolling out a series of sports documentaries covering some of the most compelling stories in the world of sports since the founding of the network in 1979. The series in mostly its entirety is available on Hulu, but Disney Plus hosts a selection of episodes.

Volume I

The initial run, the first series of 30 docs included 7 episodes which touched on the subject of basketball. Two of these episodes are currently available on Disney Plus. Each episode runs around 1 hour in length. This first series was released between October 2009 and December 2010.

Guru of Go – Episode 9 (April 3, 2010)

Paul Westhead is maybe best known for helming the Magic and Kareem LA Lakers to the 1980 NBA championship after Jack Mckinney’s infamous bike wreck. But after being ousted from The Forum at the beginning of his third season and transitioning into a terrible 28-54 season with the Chicago Bulls, Westhead had mostly outstayed his welcome in the NBA.

So Paul ended up at Loyola Marymount, a small college in LA with no real basketball legacy to speak of. There he refined an aggressive offensive system that was dead-focused on shooting.

When the Loyola Lions pick up a pair of gifted shooters, Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble, Westhead’s system begins to shine, challenging conventional basketball thinking. In contrast to Loyola’s triumph on the court is the tragic death of Gathers in March of 1990.

Jordan Rides the Bus – Episode 18 (August 24, 2010)

In 1993 Michael Jordan had just taken the Bulls to their third championship after a gold medal summer with the Dream Team in 1992. And then his father was murdered.

Shortly thereafter, Jordan walked away from the NBA at his peak in order to pursue a baseball career. This episode explores the basketball legends psyche through his brief stint in the MLB minors.

Volume II

This second season of 30 episodes included 11 episodes on basketball. Four are currently available on Disney Plus. These were released between 2012 and 2015.

There’s No Place Like Home – Episode 46 (October 16, 2012)

James Naismith’s original rules of basketball went up for auction on December 10, 2010. This episode follows one committed fan on his fanatical quest to acquire Naismith’s rules and bring them back to to the town of Lawrence, Kansas, where Naismith coached for over 40 years.

Survive and Advance – Episode 50 (March 17, 2013)

This is the story of one of the greatest playoff runs in sports history. Jim Valvano and the North Carolina Wolfpack squeaked into the post season at number 19 of 52, only to contend with nine elimination games in a row. They won each game. Seven of those games were final-minute comebacks.

The biggest underdogs ever in a NCAA championship game, the Wolfpack faced the first-seed Houston Cougars, featuring Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. They won on a fluke of a last-second assist with Olajuwon defending.

bad boys 30 for 30 promo image
Bad Boys – Episode 61 (April 17, 2014)

The Detroit Pistons of the late 80’s into the early 90’s had a reputation for aggressiveness and physicality. It was understood that they would do just about anything to win, an attitude that took them to back-to-back title in 1989 and 1990. This episode examines the Bad Boy Pistons and the deep camaraderie that drove them.

I Hate Christian Laettner – Episode 72 (March 15, 2015)

Christian Laettner had a fantastic college career. He appeared with Duke in four consecutive Final Fours, bringing home two national championships. But he was widely despised and viewed as arrogant and unsportsmanlike. This episode examines the fervent and often unreasonable hatred directed at this college basketball star who would later go on to a 13-year long career in the NBA.

Volume III

A third run of 30 episodes includes 8 episodes on basketball, although one was never officially released due to a sexual assault scandal surrounding one of the featured players. Four of the 7 episode released are currently available on Disney Plus. These were released between 2016 and 2019.

This Magic Moment – Episode 82 (April 14, 2016)

In the mid-1990s, the Orlando Magic with Shaq and Penny Hardaway were an absolute spectacle. This episode digs into their rise, popular appeal, and ultimate fadeaway through conversations with the stars, coaches, executives and fans.

Believeland – Episode 83 (May 14, 2016)

At the time this documentary was released, Cleveland was the only city with at least 3 pro sports franchises to have failed to win a championship for over 50 years. The Browns still have never won a Superbowl. The Indians (now The Guardians) haven’t won a World Series since 1948. But the Cavs…

This episode is a salute to the fans of Cleveland, and their ability to keep on believing that this obscene streak of bad luck would someday be broken. And indeed it was. Lebronn and The Cleveland Cavaliers finally broke the streak with a record breaking 3-1 comeback, just 36 days after this episode was released.

Phi Slama Jama – Episode 85 (October 18, 2016)

The Houston Cougars of the early 1980’s were home to the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. They made three straight runs into the Final Four(1982-84). The team was all kinds of promise and plenty of excitement. This episode examines the buzz of the Cougars era and the disappointment when their 3 runs failed to bring home a title to a yearning Houston.

The Dominican Dream – Episode 102 (April 30, 2019)

In the mid-90’s a Dominican immigrant named Felipe Lopez became one of the most anticipated high school basketball prospects in history. This episode explores his rise as he captures the hearts of a generation of immigrants in his High School years, ultimately continuing on to a short and uneventful NBA career.