Cohen: Basketball on the Box

By Josh Cohen
August 10, 2011


ORLANDO -- Like most kids who grew up on 1990’s television programming, there would be some added excitement after school when any of my favorite television sitcoms were scheduled to come on.

Though somewhat infrequent, there was even more enthusiasm when I learned that a particular episode would center on basketball.

Luckily for a few years on Saturday mornings, a relatively under-appreciated show called Hang Time, which featured former Orlando Magic star Reggie Theus as a high school basketball head coach, allowed me to satisfy my craving for some simulated hoops drama.

Aside from Hang Time, though, other shows periodically would focus its attention on a basketball-related storyline.

Sometimes the episode concentrated on a lead character’s quest to make his or her school team; other times the installment focused on rivalry and bragging rights and every once in a while it shed light on perseverance and determination.

In spite of it not being one of my preferred sitcoms, Hanging With Mr. Cooper was rich with basketball attachment considering the main character played the part of a former NBA basketball star who decided to retire and coach his old high school team.

It was also invigorating when an NBA star would make a special appearance on a sitcom. Vlade Divac, believe it or not, was one of the more active in television entertainment. He made a cameo showing on Married with Children and played a delivery man on Coach.

Magic legend Penny Hardaway guest appeared on The Cosby Show in 1996 and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar starred on an episode of Full House in 1995. Shaquille O'Neal, of course, was no stranger to TV as he offered his acting talents on sitcoms such as My Wife and Kids and The Bernie Mac Show.

In shows that actually displayed basketball action, it was always amusing to see and hear the special effects used to enhance all the drama.


Josh Cohen
There is generally always the slow motion of the final shot that decides the outcome of a big game; there usually is some kind of uncanny dribbling exhibition that is the complete opposite of Stan Van Gundy’s recent flaunt; and habitually the size of the court appears to be about the same length as the pitcher’s mound to home plate on the baseball diamond.

I decided to reminisce a bit and recall some of my all-time favorite TV show episodes that centered on basketball. After checking out my list, come up with your own and email them to us here.

Also, after watching the YouTube clip for each selection, vote on which one you think was most entertaining/amusing.


FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR – COURTING DISASTER (1990)

Episode Summary: Will joins the school basketball team with Carlton already on it. Will becomes the star of the team and Carlton becomes jealous and the competition between the two starts. Carlton decides to steal the ball from Will and take the game winning shot. (WATCH CLIP)

FULL HOUSE – AIR JESSE (1995)

Episode Summary: When she volunteers as a coach for a charity basketball game, DJ chooses Danny, Joey, and Jesse to play on her team. The only problem is that Jesse can barely dribble a ball (literally) and despite a cram practice session with the guys, he seems to be a hopeless case. But when a certain NBA sensation shows up at the basketball court, will he have what it takes to prepare Jesse for the big event? (WATCH CLIP)

SAVED BY THE BELL – OPERATION ZACK (1991)

Episode Summary: Zack sprains his knee before the big basketball game, and while in hospital learns that Lisa is a part-time candy striper. However, he also learns that he will need surgery to repair his knee and worries that it may go wrong. (WATCH CLIP)

FAMILY MATTERS – MAKING THE TEAM (1991)

Episode Summary: The uncoordinated Urkel's clumsiness inexplicably goes away when he steps onto the basketball court, though he claims he improved. Meanwhile, Laura proves her worth as a cheerleader to the know-it-all captain. (WATCH CLIP)

BOY MEETS WORLD – THE B-TEAM OF LIFE (1994)

Episode Summary: Cory and Minkus are assigned to the basketball “B-Team” at school, and rarely get to play. However, Cory also gets the feeling that he is on the “B-Team” with his own family. (WATCH CLIP)

BEVERLY HILLS 90210 – ONE ON ONE (1990)

Episode Summary: Brandon decides to try out for the school's basketball team where he suspects that some students are brought into the school from out of district for the sole purpose of winning games and he asks Andrea to look into it. (WATCH CLIP)

Which episode clip did you find most entertaining?
Which episode clip did you find most entertaining?
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