Dr. James Naismith gets the credit for creating basketball in 1891. Since then, the sport has long since evolved from Naismith's vision of a game of skill instead of strength. These days, especially during March Madness, players need skill, strength, speed, and endurance to run up and down the court for the entire game.
Hollywood has kept pace with these changes, using basketball as a backdrop to tell an even larger story. "The Sixth Man," an almost-forgotten 1997 sports film, shows a deceased collegiate player trying to help his brother win an NCAA championship from beyond the grave. Kadeem Hardison is Antoine, the young man whose hoop dreams almost die with him on the court, while Marlon Wayans plays his eager brother, who soon realizes that championships must be won without supernatural help.
Basketball as a Movie Backboard
Dr. Naismith's game plays a big part in other movies, even those not specifically about sports. David Morse is a standout in 1980's "Inside Moves," a film about a group of disabled people finding common ground in a neighborhood bar. Morse plays Jerry Maxwell, a talented basketball player who is hampered by a growth in his leg. Surgery removes the blockage and allows him to finally fulfill his dream of playing in the big leagues.
Set in a fictional television universe, "Pleasantville" is a place where everything is ideal. A funny running gag involves the local high school basketball team unwilling or unable to miss a shot. Tobey Maguire plays David, a teenager from the real world who is sucked into this universe and watches the team with awe and amusement. It is only when real world issues invade Pleasantville that the basketballs fail to reach their intended targets.
Basketball and dreams go hand-in-hand, which is the underlying theme of 1979's "Fast Break," a vehicle for "Welcome Back, Kotter" star Gabe Kaplan. As David Greene, Kaplan takes a job coaching at the collegiate level, putting together a team of diverse players, including Swish (Mavis Washington), a talented female player disguised as a man. "Fast Break" is an interesting piece, but proved not enough to give Kaplan a film career.
The sport serves as a means of communication between a parent and child in the 1991 remake of "Father of the Bride." Steve Martin does a nice turn as George Banks, a manufacturer of athletic shoes whose only daughter comes home from overseas with the news that she is getting married. George bonds with his daughter by the basketball hoop outside the garage and, in one poignant moment, he realizes that their one-on-one sessions will be over when she takes her wedding vows.
You have to dig deep into the archives to find 1973's "Shirts/Skins," a comedy in which businessmen find comfort in their weekly basketball game. With the late Bill Bixby and McLean Stevenson in the cast, the action shifts to comedy when the group gets involved in an oddball game of hide-and-seek.
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