The Best Basketball Movies for Kids in 2023 (and where to stream them)

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Alright, so you’re looking for a basketball-centric movie that’s suitable and entertaining for kids. Maybe they like basketball, maybe you like basketball. Whatever it is, I’ve put together this ranked list of all of the best basketball movies for kids.

Fair notice, I am a Dad. And I do love movies. And I have been known to put on a movie in order to distract my child from time to time while I’m trying to accomplish things, like writing blog posts about the best kids movies about basketball for example.

So I do know a thing or two about the genre. I am biased of course. I’ve done my best here to order these subjectively, in terms of just how well crafted they are, but also how likely they are to grab the attention of a child.

I’ve divided the list into ‘entertaining’ movies and ‘inspirational’ movies. this kinda just felt right. The ‘entertaining’ movies are a little more of a mindless distraction. The ‘inspirational’ movies tell an important or compelling story, but it may take a little more coaxing to get a younger kid to pay attention.

Now, if you happen to have Disney Plus, a lot of the best kids basketball movies are streaming over there. If you want to narrow your focus, jump over to my post on Disney Plus basketball movies.

The Most Entertaining Basketball Movies for Kids

More of the mindless entertainment here. Hey, I’m not judging. Kids need to be entertained. These are the most entertaining kids basketball movies.

Space Jam (1996) – Rated PG

Space Jam - 1996 (a classic basketball movie for kids)

Now, this was custom fit to my generation. And yet, I still don’t love Space Jam.

It’s a classic. I think it’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. The film just doesn’t do it for me. In fact, without Bill Murray and the aliens, I might find this movie to be unwatchable.

I’m kinda looking forward to seeing if Space Jam resonates with my daughter. We’ve tried it, and she was relatively engaged, but she’s still a little young. Considering that she is, unavoidably, surrounded by hoops culture, I feel like there’s a possibility that Space Jam could serve as a bridge into her own interest in the sport.

I don’t want to force anything on her, but if she takes to hoops, I won’t complain.

You can catch Space Jam on HBOMax, or Amazon Prime.

Rise (2023) – rated PG

Rise - 2022 (one of the most heart warming basketball movies for kids)

Giannis Antetokounmpo 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. Their story is an incredible testament to persistence and the value of hard work.

Rise dramatizes the story of the Antetokounmpo family, fleeing Nigeria, struggling with anti-imigrant sentiment in Greece, and discovering basketball as a path to a brigher future.

The film is well made and the story is fantastic. It does kinda bring to mind the plight of all of the incredibly determined and hardworking refugees who aren’t also impossibly good at sports.

Like Mike (2002) – rated PG

Like Mike movie promotional image (2002)

This is a very watchable kids movie. I think it captured some hearts in its generation.

Kids should be engaged. A rags-to-riches young phenom story. If you’re an 80’s kid I’ll compare it to Rookie of the Year. Lil Bow Wow finds Michael Jordan’s shoes and they still have a little magic left in them.

For the adults, 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 of the era. Also, Eugene Levy.

The basketball element holds through the film, and includes some entertaining moves. You can catch Like Mike and the sequel on Disney Plus. Or go with Amazon. It’s free with a Starz! trial apparently.

Teen Wolf (1985) – rated PG

I’m not sure what’s worse, the 1985 effects or Michael J. Fox’s handles. Either way, this one goes down as a classic. It’s highly watchable, in that, ‘they just don’t make ’em like this anymore’ kinda way.

I resisted Teen Wolf for a very long time. I missed it growing up and it just didn’t really have anything going for it in terms of appeal until I realized it’s a basketball movie.

And yeah, it’s not completely a basketball movie, but basketball does play an important part in the plot and features throughout the film. It’s as much a basketball movies as High School Musical at least.

If you haven’t watched Teen Wolf, it is worth it. Some of the themes are surprisingly adult for its PG rating, so maybe not suitable for the littlest of littles. But fine for early teens IMO.

You can rent Teen Wolf on Amazon, or it’s currently available on HBO Max.

High School Musical (2006) – Rated G

High School Musical film promotional image (2006)

High School Musical is really really popular with a specific generation. It’s probably one of the most beloved TV movies of all time. It’s also the only movie on this list with a true G rating.

Zac Efron really launched his career here with that iconic turnaround jumper. However, while basketball plays an important role in the film, it’s not exactly a central focus.

Still a decent flick, and worth watching, particularly for the right demographic. You can stream High School Musical for around 4$ on Amazon. It’s also on Disney Plus.

Chang Can Dunk (2023) – rated PG

Chang Can Dunk movie promotional image (2023)

Brand new in 2023, this is probably the newest kids basketball movie out there.

Chang bets a young rival that he will lay down a dunk on a full height rim within 10 weeks. Teenage drama ensues.

It’s your typical Disney Original kids sports movie. But it’s pretty good actually.

Basketball plays a central role in the movie. My biggest complaint is that the ethics of the story seem quite broken for a Disney movie. But I’m no ethicist. I’ll leave you to decide.

17 Again (2009)

17 again (2009)

Mathew Perry is Mike O’Donnell, star player on the basketball team, who gives up his dreams after he knocks up his high school girlfriend.

Twenty years later, as his marriage, his relationships with his kids, and his career all come crumbling down at the same time, Mike wonders what might have happened if he had done things a little differently.

He gets a chance to find out when he magically wakes up in his 17 year old body, played by Zac Efron. With the help of his best friend, he gets himself enrolled in school. He manages to befriend his kids and launch an undercover sting operation to fix his tattered life.

It’s cute I guess. Thomas Lennon is pretty entertaining as Mike’s weird, rich best friend who doggedly pursues a relationship with the school principal. I’m still a little sore about Perry hating on Keanu Reeves, but whatever. If you want something basketball-related to put on in the background, I suppose this works.

Full-Court Miracle (2003)

Full Court Miracle movie promotional image (2003)

What’s that? You’re looking for a kids movie about basketball that is also loosely based on a Jewish parable?

Well, that’s oddly specific of you. That being said, I have just the thing…

Full-Court Miracle is a Disney Original about a basketball-obsessed kid in search of a replacement for his team’s inept coach.

He finds some old guy in a park and manages to persuade teachers and administration to give this guy a job. It’s funny to me just how suspect some of these plots are.

It’s no Johnny Tsunami, but it works. The acting is above expectation. Plot and dialog are actually way above expectation. This is… a movie.

Air Bud (1994) – Rated PG

It’s a tale as old as time. Dog runs away from alcoholic clown. Dog demonstrates elite basketball proficiency. Dog dominates youth basketball league.

If you can get beyond the idea that Bud may well have taken away a deserved opportunity on a youth basketball team from a real-live fictional human teenager, you can probably enjoy this film to some extent.

The rotten tomatoes score on this is pretty brutal. And yet, somehow it became a franchise.

Your kids might like it. I’d ask them first, if they’d be interested in watching a dog play youth basketball. You might like it if you’re just looking for something nostalgic and ridiculous to put on in the background.

The Luck of the Irish (2001) – Rated G

The Luck of the Irish film promotional image (2001)

This movie is ridiculous. There’s no way around that. If you’re okay with ridiculousness, and some weird Irish stereotypes, it’s quite watchable.

Kyle Johnson comes from a long lineage of leprechauns. A lucky coin is all that is keeping he and his Mother concealed as humans.

Kyle loses the coin and he has to get it back. It all comes down to a basketball showdown where Kyle discovers he doesn’t need any luck to be a winner.

Inspirational Kids Basketball Movies

These are still entertaining, but they require a little more maturity from the viewer. If you want your kids basketball movies with a side of moral authority, or directional encouragement, these inspirational kids basketball movies might be what you’re looking for.

Hoosiers (1986) – Rated PG

A true classic. Hoosiers is a ‘shot at redemption’ sports drama. I know people who cite this movie as the reason they played competitive basketball, and so I couldn’t leave it off of the list.

Hoosiers came out in 1986. It was nominated for two Academy Awards. And it maintains an 88% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hoosiers is available on Hulu.

The Air up There (1994) – Rated PG

I vividly recall being into this movie as a kid. It comes from a genre of children’s movie that no longer exists, that being high-budget, well-crafted children’s movies.

Starring Kevin Bacon, The Air up There follows Jimmy Dolan, a college basketball coach sent to Kenya to recruit a talented young player to play for his team. Valuable lessons ensue.

The Air up There was released in 1994 to positive reviews, and was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.

It pops up on streaming services occasionally, but you can find it reliably on Amazon.

Double Teamed (2002) – Rated G

Double Teamed film promotional image (2002)

If you’ve got girls, or girl, and they’re interested in basketball, this is probably the one. It’s maybe either this or High School Musical.

The bummer here is that this movie is not good. It’s based on a true story. And, it’s an important story, an inspirational story. It’s just, the movie is not good.

And I don’t mean, like, Disney Original not good. I can enjoy a Disney Original. In my opinion, this movie is a poor example of a Disney Original. It takes an interesting story and makes it boring.


There’s a surprising lack of quality kids basketball movies for the true littlest of littles. I suppose I get it. Toddlers aren’t usually that interested in basketball.

But even Air Bud gets a PG rating. That seems completely inappropriate. Leave it to the 90’s to produce a movie about a basketball playing dog that requires ‘parental guidance’.

If you’re just after a well-made and inspirational kid-friendly basketball movie, go with Rise. If you’re looking for a distraction for a kid or group of kids that are into basketball, go with Space Jam or Like Mike. Unfortunately, those too are PG.

If you really need a G rating, you’re stuck with Disney. You’ve got High School Musical, which contains some decidedly teenage themes. Luck of the Irish is passable I suppose, as a very Disney Original. And then there’s Double Teamed, which is plain terrible no matter how you look at it.

Best of luck and please let me know what works for your kids and a what age. I’ve got a 2-year-old that needs distracting.