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A basketball player jumps to dunk the ball in this image from Undisputed Cinema.
Life as a young athlete has its ups and downs, but Jace Carson (Isaiah Hill) does his best to overcome the odds and up his baller skills in “Swagger.” (Image: Undisputed Cinema)

Game on! College basketball fans are gearing up for March Madness. While we’re standing by for this real-life sports content, there’s an extensive library of scripted sports TV shows waiting for you to press play. My recommendations are mostly basketball-focused, with some other standout sports series mixed in.

Hit a three-pointer with these sporty streaming TV picks, ranked from least to most baller.

‘Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper’ (1992 to 1997)

A man lies on a couch holding a basketball while watching TV in this image from Jeff Franklin Productions.
Mr. Cooper (Mark Curry) might be retired, but he’s still balling off the court. (Image: Jeff Franklin Productions)

Like most ’90s kids, I religiously watched ABC’s “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” especially since it was a sister show to “Full House” and also aired in the popular TGIF lineup. The premise is simple: Former Golden State Warriors basketball player Mark Cooper (Mark Curry) takes on a new role as a high school teacher turned basketball coach while navigating his life with roommate Vanessa Russell (Holly Robinson Peete).

Many notable names appear throughout the show's five-season run, including Dawnn Lewis, Nell Carter, Raven-Symoné, Omar Gooding, and Don Cheadle. Since the focus is on a former basketball player, it sits low on the baller scale.

Bounce over to Max and stream “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper.” 

‘Big Shot’ (2021 to 2022)

A man squats with a clipboard on a basketball court as players surround him in this image from David E. Kelley Productions.
John Stamos brings his baller game as a girls’ basketball coach in “Big Shot” on Disney Plus. (Image: David E. Kelley Productions)

John Stamos stars in “Big Shot” as former NCAA basketball coach Marvyn Korn. After getting fired for throwing a chair at a referee, he takes a job as a basketball coach at the elite Westbrook School for Girls in San Diego, California (my current home!). Yvette Nicole Brown plays the no-nonsense school dean Sherilyn Thomas, who’s clearly not sold on Korn’s ability to do the job. 

The sports comedy-drama doesn’t have a ball-playing lead but does tell an endearing story focusing on female basketball players and a coach’s redemption journey. It’s a great watch for the whole family! 

Before the whistle blows, stream “Big Shot” on Disney Plus. 

‘One Tree Hill’ (2003 to 2012)

A teen hands a basketball to another teen in this image from Tollin/Robbins Productions.
There’s plenty of drama on and off the court in “One Tree Hill,” starring Chad Michael Murray and James Lafferty. (Image: Tollin/Robbins Productions)

At its core, “One Tree Hill” is about a high school basketball team set in the fictional small town of Tree Hill, North Carolina. It all starts as a competition between half brothers Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan Scott (James Lafferty) over the school basketball team (and yes, a girl). Throughout the show’s nine-season run, we see our fair share of teen drama in the form of romance, jealousy, and a roster of villains. The enduring focus on the baller brothers, one of whom makes it to the NBA, scores the series a slot in my starting lineup.

“One Tree Hill” is available to stream on Hulu.

‘The Super Globetrotters’ (1979)

A group of animated Globetrotters stands together outdoors in this image from Hanna-Barbera Productions.
The superpowers run strong with classic ballers The Harlem Globetrotters. (Image: Hanna-Barbera Productions)

“The Super Globetrotters” is a spinoff of Hanna-Barbera’s “Harlem Globetrotters.” It aired on Saturday mornings back in the late ’70s and featured the Harlem Globetrotters as undercover action heroes. Unlike Superman and his phone booth, these animated basketball-playing heroes use magical portable lockers to transform into their hero forms. Yes, they beat the bad guys on the court, but using their superpowers keeps their natural baller ability a bit lower.

Stream “The Super Globetrotters” by purchasing episodes on Prime Video. 

‘Bel-Air’ (2022 to Present)

A man holds a basketball while talking to a teen on a court in this image from Arbolada Roads.
The character of Will Smith (Jabari Banks) is still a baller in this re-imagining of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” (Image: Arbolada Roads.)

Peacock’s dramatic “Bel-Air” re-imagines the popular ’90s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” starring Will Smith. While the initial premise of Will (Jabari Banks) moving from West Philadelphia remains intact, the modern twist on the original has Will’s cousin Carlton (Olly Sholotan) also dealing with his own demons while balancing grades, mental health, and sports endeavors. 

Will, of course, is still a baller and is always seeking the next move to further his basketball game and the game of life. I have to give a nod to the show’s predecessor for paving the way for this engaging reboot.

Step onto the court and stream “Bel-Air” on Peacock.

‘Survivor’s Remorse’ (2014 to 2017)

Two men dressed in tracksuits enter a room as cameras film them in this image from Spring Hill Productions.
Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher) and Reggie Vaughn (RonReaco Lee) quickly learn that stardom in sports comes with a cost, especially for true ballers. (Image: Spring Hill Productions)

NBA superstar LeBron James produced “Survivor’s Remorse,” a comedy-drama series centered on fictional basketball player Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher). The 20-year-old basketball star earns a pro contract and relocates his family from Boston to Atlanta to play. The story hits on the price of sports fame, opportunistic family members, loyalty issues, and the guilt of “making it” when others haven’t. Given Calloway’s pro status, the baller ability here is strong. 

This is not a drill: “Survivor’s Remorse” is streaming on Starz.

‘Friday Night Lights’ (2006 to 2011)

A high school football coach yells toward the field with his team in the background in this image from Universal Television.
“Friday Night Lights” is full of high school ballers with winning on their minds. (Image: Universal Television)

While this list mostly focuses on basketball, I’d be remiss not to include “Friday Night Lights” in my roundup of must-watch scripted sports shows. Small-town America and its love for and dedication to high school football are front and center in this popular sports drama. Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) applies pressure on his Panthers football team to ensure they win — and win with heart. 

During its five-season run, the show covers family drama, happenings with the rural townspeople of Dillon, Texas, and the relationship between Coach Taylor and his players. The will to win and the general importance of football to the heart of the series equates to strong baller ability. 

Enter the end zone and stream “Friday Night Lights” on Netflix.

‘Ballers’ (2015 to 2019)

A man walks and talks on his cell phone in this image from Closest to the Hole Productions.
Dwayne Johnson rocks as NFL financial manager Spencer Strasmore in “Ballers.” (Image: Closest to the Hole Productions)

Given the name of the show is the same as my ranking protocol, “Ballers” had to make this list. The sports comedy-drama stars Dwayne Johnson as retired NFL player Spencer Strasmore. He shifts his career from playing the game to managing the finances of current football players. The Miami-set series focuses on big sports personalities and ballers and Strasmore’s relationship with them. The Rock rocks the baller ability scale like a few others.

Go for the extra point and stream “Ballers” on Max.

‘Pitch’ (2016)

A female baseball player dressed in uniform removes her batting gloves in the dugout in this image from Barnstorm Films.
A female player (Kylie Bunbury) on a Major League Baseball team? Count me in on this home run of a single season! (Image: Barnstorm Films)

I’m a baseball fan to the core. While I can hardly wait for the upcoming baseball season, this single-season show is worth watching in the meantime.

Sliding right into the top three of my ranking is “Pitch.” Not only was the show filmed at my actual workplace, Petco Park in San Diego, but one of my favorite ’90s stars, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, co-stars as a Hall of Fame baseball catcher on my actual team, the San Diego Padres! My favorite part of this sports drama, though, is the female lead. 

Kylie Bunbury, who many know from “Big Sky,” stars as Ginny Baker, the first woman player in Major League Baseball. The inspiring fictional story focuses on her journey as a rookie pitcher earning her spot and the respect of her teammates. Baller to the max in my book. 

Hit a home run and purchase Season 1 of “Pitch” on Prime Video.

‘The White Shadow’ (1978 to 1981)

A group of basketball players and their coach pose for a photo in a gym in this image from Company Four.
“The White Shadow” earns extra baller points for its diverse casting, which wasn’t common when it aired. (Image: Company Four)

“The White Shadow” isn’t as well-known as the other recommendations on my list, but this series holds major baller status for breaking down barriers and being the first television ensemble drama with a predominantly Black cast. The “pro-turned-coach” trope also presents itself again. 

The sports drama follows Ken Reeves (Ken Howard), a basketball player who suffered a career-ending knee injury. Forced to take a job at a tough Los Angeles-area high school, Reeves impacts his basketball players’ lives in the show and also influenced many real lives, including that of sports media personality Bill Simmons. 

Watch CBS’s critically acclaimed “The White Shadow” on Plex.

‘Swagger’ (2021 to 2023)

A basketball coach talks to his players during a game in this image from Undisputed Cinema.
Coach Ike “Icon” Edwards (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) brings out his team’s baller ability in “Swagger.” (Image: Undisputed Cinema)

Baller ability is at its peak in the emotional sports drama “Swagger,” loosely inspired by Phoenix Suns star Kevin Durant, who serves as one of the show’s executive producers. The series centers on basketball prodigy Jace Carson (Isaiah Hill), who faces pressure and personal battles as his star rises. The elite high school player scores baller points for his grit and determination, and this sports story gets my top spot for focusing on his coming of age. 

Get a jump on “Swagger,” with both seasons streaming on Apple TV Plus.

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