9 Greatest Movie Basketball Coaches of All Time
In the realm of sports films, coaches always exist as larger than life, sage characters, like human Yodas. And in no sport is that more true than basketball, when the only physical gap between the coach and his players is the space between two seats on the sideline. So here are some good coaches and a bad coach or two, all of whom are among the most entertaining to watch.
9. Eddie Franklin – Eddie
She’s on here as “most improved.” To go from being a limo driver to the coach of the Knicks is a great accomplishment, but to do so successfully is downright unfathomable. Also, I wanted to put a woman on this list and Whoopi Goldberg was the closest thing I could find to one. (Bah-zinggg!)
8. Jackie Moon – Semi-Pro
We’ll call Jackie a “player’s coach,” inasmuch as he sucked as a “regular coach.” It would have been a delight playing on Jackie’s watch. Cocaine, fur coats, and cognac seemed to be the order of the day for members of the Flint Tropics. However, he flashes signs of competency, realizing his own limitations as a player and, let’s face it, coach that enabled them to cheat death for as long as they could. A great coach and a great human being. Just kidding. He was neither of those things. But the bear-wrestling part was gold.
7. Bobby Finstock – Teen Wolf
Any coach that has Chubbs at power forward gets to make the list simply for not committing suicide. Before Scott discovered his wolf, the starting five was four unremarkable dudes…and Chubbs. The fact that they were able to sink even one basket the entire season is a testament to his coaching prowess. Also, did he know that Howard was a werewolf all along? Cause if so, that’s an amazing recruiting job right there.
6. Don Haskins – Glory Road
Texas Western had no business being a good team in its era. He enjoyed no money to recruit or grant scholarships, so his team was low on the list of the great white players. However, his willingness to integrate his team presented a much deeper pool of talent, one that he leveraged into a 23-1 regular season record. Not bad for UTEP.
5. Ken Carter – Coach Carter
It would have been much funnier if Samuel L. played a horrible coach that couldn’t get the team to win to save his life. But alas. He takes a motley crew of players and not only takes them to the state tournament, but teaches them the value of an education. It doesn’t make for a very interesting movie, but it makes for a great fictional coach.
4. Bill Fuller – “Hang Time”
Bill Fuller was able to take a very diverse group of high school players and turn them into winners. I think. For a show about basketball, there sure didn’t seem to be much focus on basketball. It was mostly life lessons that happened to take place in a gym. Reggie Theus was a very wooden actor, which was quite helpful in his portrayal of a wooden coach. The presence of a girl on the team had to completely change the locker room culture and team philosophies. So…way to adapt, Coach Fuller.
3. Pete Bell – Blue Chips
Our “ethics” entry. Sure he did thing the wrong way for a long time, authorizing booster payments and gifts to Rickey Roe, Butch McRae, and Neon Boudeaux, but he saw the error of his ways. Tired of living in the booster’s debt, he comes clean during a press conference. It’s a fitting end for a depressed, tired coach. Take note, corrupt college coaches. This is how it’s done.
2. Gene Pingatore – Hoop Dreams
This coach in a movie isn’t fictional, nor portrayed by an actor. In Hoop Dreams, Pingatore is filmed giving Arthur Agee and William Gates an opportunity to get out of Chicago and into the NBA. He doesn’t come across as a larger-than-life character, the way coaches are often portrayed in films, but he gets the job done. Almost. While Gates and Agee never get close to their dream of the NBA, they were driven to be their best, as the footage so clearly shows.
1. Norman Dale – Hoosiers
Did you think that there was any chance that Gene Hackman wouldn’t be an amazing coach? Hickory was certainly not the most talented or gifted team in the state, but they KILLED it on fundamentals. Fundamentals don’t just appear, but rather are taught by great men, and Hackman’s Norman Dale was the greatest of them all. In my mind, he’s coached Gonzaga after leading his team to glory.