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The Five Best Basketball Films

The Five Best Basketball Films  (photo)

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The Year of the Yao airs on IFC at 12:45 p.m. ET today. It documents the signing of the first Chinese player to the NBA — the 7′ 6″ Yao Ming to the Houston Rockets. Produced in part by the NBA, the movie follows Yao from his shaky beginning to his unstoppable rise to a basketball powerhouse.

The airing of The Year of the Yao got us thinking about sports films, specifically, basketball movies. Obviously there are a great deal of excellent basketball documents, such as the must-see Hoop Dreams and More Than A Game featuring a young LeBron James. We are more interested in fictional or fictionalized portrayals of basketball: the underdog, the inspiring coach, the tough players, the competition, the swoosh. All the stuff that teenage dreams are made.

Our Top Five Best Basketball Films

5. Teen Wolf. While perhaps not technically a movie about basketball, the basketball game is the only part of the movie that most people remember, so it counts.

4. The Basketball Diaries. Who knew heroin and basketball could work together to make an memorable story of teen angst. That’s what we call teamwork. Leonardo Dicaprio stars in Jim Carroll’s biographical

3. He Got Game. Spike Lee’s 1998 drama shows how the love of the game can have wide-reaching impact. Denzel Washington stars as a convicted killer released from prison by the Governor of New York, so he can convince his basketball star son to play for the governor’s alma mater. That’s some school pride.

2. Coach Carter. Based on a true story, Samuel L. Jackson stars as a tough love coach determined to whip a team of misfits into state champions. If you’re a fan of the excellent television show, Friday Night Lights, you’ll see similarities between Coach Taylor and Coach Carter.

1. Hoosiers. Is there another movie that so perfectly captures the rise of the underdog, the tough love of a good coach, and the power of teamwork? No, there is not. Starring Gene Hackman as Norman Dale, the determined coach with a quick temper and a spotty past, the movie follows the unlikely rise of the Hickory, Indiana high school basketball team. Dennis Hopper garnered an Oscar nod for his role as the basketball-loving town drunk.

The Year of the Yao airs on IFC at 12:45 p.m. ET

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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