Watching live games and following your favorite team is one thing, but with a sport like basketball – which touches the lives of so many different communities – you can dig far deeper into the themes behind it. The stories of the greats like LeBron James to Julius Erving are fascinating in themselves, but basketball also brings conversations around what it means to be in a team, to overcome adversity, and a reflection of wider issues within society. Over the years a range of sports movies have sprung up addressing these ideas and more. So if you want to form a deeper connection with the game you love, we’ve collected a list of some of the best basketball documentaries of all time available to watch on DIRECTV


‘Hoop Dreams’ (1994) 

The critically acclaimed documentary film Hoop Dreams follows the lives of William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American high school basketball players from tough neighborhoods in Chicago who dream of becoming professional NBA players. Shot over five years, we see the boys grow from age 14 to 19, and the movie becomes a heartbreakingly open story about life in America, and the challenges of poverty, crime and racism. 


‘Women of Troy’ (2020) – Watch Now

The HBO Sports documentary tells the story of the USC Trojans, led by Cheryl Miller, and how the team changed women’s basketball, the NCAA forever. The 1980s team became of the of greatest dynasties in the history of women’s college basketball, and Women of Troy, directed by Alison Ellwood, is an inspiring and timely portrayal of these athletes who defied discrimination – eventually influencing the birth of the WNBA. Watch Women of Troy now


‘More Than a Game’ (2008) – Watch Now

Directed by Kristopher Belman, and produced by NBA legend LeBron James and Maverick Carter, More Than a Game documents the journey of LeBron James and his high school basketball teammates from Akron, Ohio. It is an inspiring documentary about pursuing your dreams and the strength of friendship, telling the story of LeBron and his team from their early days of playing basketball on the streets of Akron to the state championships in Ohio, and ultimately the national championships. Watch More Than a Game now.   


‘Shut Up and Dribble’ (2018) – Watch Now

Shut Up and Dribble is not just a documentary series about basketball, it is about the power of sports to inspire change. Also produced by LeBron James, the Showtime series focuses on the intersection of sports and politics, and takes an important look at how Black basketball players in particular have used their platforms to fight for social justice throughout the modern history of the NBA. Watch Shut Up and Dribble now.  


‘The Year of the Yao’ (2004) – Watch Now

An engaging and thought-provoking film about the challenges faced by international players at the NBA, The Year of the Yao tells the story of the Chinese basketball star Yao Ming. Yao joined the Houston Rockets in 2002 as the first player from China in the NBA, when he had little command of English and was no doubt experiencing a significant culture shock. He of course went on to become a much-respected star of the NBA, and this documentary takes us back to the beginnings and his first year playing at the highest level in America. Watch The Year of the Yao now



‘The Doctor’ (2013)

For fans wanting to dig deeper into the story of a legendary player, The Doctor showcases the life of Dr J, or Julius Erving, known for the popularization of the slam dunk. Dr J revolutionized the game with his innovative style on the court and his charismatic personality, and the film takes us back to his early days in the ABA to his time as an NBA star with the Philadelphia 76ers. Including interviews from Erving himself and fellow basketball legends, The Doctor is an insightful look into the life and career of one of the world’s most influential players. 


Where to Watch Basketball Documentaries on DIRECTV?

Immerse yourself in the world of sports with DIRECTV. We have a range of packages that can give you access to over 20 regional sports networks, international soccer and college sports, with a number of add-ons. For basketball fans, try our NBA League Pass for 24/7 access to games and coverage on demand. Through our packages, you’ll also find the most popular documentary networks like A&E, HBO, History Channel, National Geographic and more. Plus, you get a variety of movies on demand as well as movies you can rent or buy! Just tune in and press play.    


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