Hoop Dreams

Synopsis: This documentary follows two young African-Americans through their high school years as they perfect their skills in basketball in the hopes of getting a college scholarship and eventually play in the NBA. Arthur Agee and William Gates both show great potential and are are actively recruited as they look to enter high school. They start off at the same high school but unable to pay an unexpected bill for tuition fees, Arthur has to withdraw and go to the local public high school. The film follows them through their four years of high school and their trials and tribulations: injuries, slumps and the never ending battle to maintain their grades. Through it all, their hoop dreams continue.
Director(s): Steve James
Production: Fine Line Features
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 7 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
170 min

And welcome to

the 38th annual NBA All-Star game...

from Chicago Stadium.

A standing-room-only crowd.

A steal by Jordan.

He spun it away from the Mailman.

Just needs a little time-out to reorganize.

And the chances

of a West comeback are slipping away.

Aguirre for three.

I have never seen an All-Star game...

that had such spectacular passing...

and plays,

and thundering plays like this.

They're beginning to hang, Billy.

Ah, what a way to end this ball game.

Right now, I wanna, you know,

play in the NBA...

like anybody else would wanna be.

That's who -

That's something...

I dream and think

about all the time -

playing in the NBA.

He's just doing something

that he loves so much.

He just love it so much.

I'm just happy for him.

If somebody can understand

the way William play...

that'll make me feel

a lot better.

The way they should have

understood the way I played.

This Chicagoan

is making his seventh All-Star appearance.

From the Detroit Pistons, 6'1 "...

Isaiah Thomas!

When I get in the NBA...

the first thing I'm gonna do...

I'm gonna see my mama, buy her a house...

I'm gonna go there and make sure

my sister and my brother's okay.

If we were okay or not.

Probably get my dad...

a Cadillac Oldsmobile...

so he can cruise in the games.

Something real long.

Dominique.! Ooh.!

He dreams about it.

He look at those

basketball commercials...

where they be advertising these Nike shoes?

He'll tell his little, small brother...

"Joe, Joe, that's me."

So the West leads.

Thomas trying to go the distance. Loses it.

I don't even think about

it, if he don't make it.

Just 'cause I'm so -

I'm so, you know,

focused in on him making it.

I just know he'll make it.

I'm off to Central...

and the Congress


a park over there where there are

some pretty talented young men.

Earl Smith works downtown

as an insurance executive.

On weekends he's an unofficial talent scout

for several area high schools.

This is what you call

"beating the bushes."

This is the job

of most of your freshmen coaches...

and guys like me who -

who played a little bit of the game...

who love trying to help young people

on the road to success.

It's in! It's in!

Today Earl spots Arthur Agee,

who just graduated from grammar school.

He's got the quickest first step

that I've seen in about five years.

His first step.

I will bet you a steak dinner

in four years you'll be hearing from him.

I don't even know anything about him.

Several days later,

Earl takes Arthur and his family

on a recruiting visit...

to the high school

where NBA star Isiah Thomas played.

The visit will give

St. Joseph's coaches...

a chance to see Arthur perform.

Your role today, Arthur...

is to impress the coaches.

Try not to be too fancy.

Take the open shot when you have it.

Play good defense

and make good passes.

The rest of it,

just play natural, you know.

I'm hoping I'm gonna go to St. Joe

and play...

but first I gotta -

I gotta get my books straight.


hopefully come out

and impress the coaches.

Is it kinda scary?

Yes, it is.

I've never been to a school

way out before...

and I would be going to a school

with different kids, different races.

You can look at the scenery,

new friends to meet.

What if Isiah's there today?

Well, if he be there...

I'll be shocked...

'cause that'd be my first time

ever seeing him...

Up close, you know, real life.

Basketball has to be second

to your academics.

If you don't get your grades,

you're not gonna play.

If you work hard at the grades,

and if you work hard at basketball...

then I would be able to help you

as far as going to college.

And I guarantee this.

I can't promise you where you're gonna go

and if you're gonna be a star...

but I guarantee that I would help you

get into the school...

that would be best for you.

I'm making a commitment to you...

if you make a commitment

to being part of this kind of a program.

Out of all of the kids

at the St. Joseph Basketball Camp...

there are a few like Arthur

that Coach Pingatore is recruiting.

It was like million of guys

trying to be better than the other...

but, to me,

I was better than all of them...

except Isiah.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce

to you a graduate of St. Joe's...

high school all-American...

All-American from Indiana University...

five-time NBA All-Star...

Isiah Thomas.

Hello. How are you?

In everybody's neighborhood,

there's a guy who can really play.

He can shoot the lights out.

Every time down the court -

Swish, swish, swish!

Then he goes to St. Joseph high School...

and the guy gets cut.

You say, "But Tom was real good.

Why did he get cut?'"

See, Tom didn't learn

the fundamentals of team basketball...

which is what you're learning

how to play.

He told my daddy

that he knew I could play...

so he just had to play me hard.

I can see the playground in him.

I can see talent.

But I don't see the confidence.

With Isiah, I just knew

he was gonna be a great one.

He had that total combination

of personality, confidence, talent...


I think I see it in one kid

that's coming here.

He flows with a smoothness

and confidence...

and strength...

that you don't see in every kid.

But he could become a great player.

You gotta take a shot.

Always work it. You can't block it.


I just bang him and bruise him.

I'm trying to let him know right now

you gonna get hit, get knocked down...

you gonna get banged around,

so you better get used to it now.

Stop it. One-hand hook.

All these basketball dreams I had,

they gone.

All I see -All my dreams in him now.

I want him to make it so bad,

I don't know what to do.

They want to play basketball

and stuff, that was always okay.

But I was gonna make sure all of 'em

got through high school.

A high school diploma

was very important to me.

My mother,

she was like mother and father to me.

She don't want me really

hanging around over here that much...

'cause of the gangs.

I feel if I go to St. Joseph...

I'll at least get a good chance

to go to a good college.

That would be good for me.

That was my first son.

I said, "That's Daddy's man, '"

so we just started calling him "Man. '"

Get around it!

I could have been a good college player.

Most likely

I would have made it to the pros.

But, you know, once I had my son...

I knew then something good

was gonna come out of it.

I think the talent gonna be passed on.

He told me, "I'm so scared of growing up."

I said, "Why?"

he said a grown-up has so many problems.

"I got so many things on my mind."

I just want Arthur to have more...

you know,

have a better life than what I had.

I don't want him experiencing

bad things that I went through in life.

Austin Boulevard

will be the next stop. Austin is next.

Like Isiah Thomas before them...

both Arthur and William make

a three-hour round trip each day...

between the city and St. Joseph's.

That was strange for me

Rate this script:4.3 / 3 votes

Steve James

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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