BEST OF THE BEST?

On the list of best sports movies, you won’t believe what made the cut

Rocky won best picture in 1973. Photo by Getty Images.

What is your favorite sports movie ever? Mine is Slap Shot, with Caddyshack a close second. I've watched them probably 20 times, and each time they get stupider and funnier.

Maybe you've got an idea for a sports movie that's even funnier, more dramatic, or pulls at your heartstrings.

Time is running out for writers to enter their original movie scripts for the Houston International Sports Film Festival's "Screenplay Competition."

The festival, scheduled for June 3-6, is looking for "stories that go beyond the field and show the relationship between sports and life." Judges include producer, director and writer Angelo Pizzo (Hoosiers and Rudy) and writer Brad Gunn (Disney's Invincible). Details of the film festival, including where to send your screenplay, are available at eventhorizonfilms.com. The deadline is April 25.

This will be the first year for the Houston International Sports Film Festival. Winners of the screenplay competition will receive autographed film scripts, professional consultations and tickets to sports events.

I'm a big fan of sports movies, they're practically the only films I watch besides comedies and gangster movies. The festival got me thinking, what are the Top 10 most successful sports movies ever made? The answer is tricky because when you ask the Internet, the list is not only debatable, frankly all 10 have little to do with sports.

To start the argument, the No. 1 biggest money-making sports movie is Furious 7. Released in 2015, the film took in $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office. No. 2 is The Fate of the Furious ($1.23 billion), No. 3 is Fast & Furious 6 ($788 million), No. 4 is Hobbs & Shaw ($759 million), and No. 5 is Forrest Gump ($677 million).

To say these are Top 5 is to consider illegal street racing, the background of Fast & Furious movies, a sport. OK, maybe that's true in Houston (hundreds of cars impounded this month), but generally speaking, an activity isn't a sport if it's 3 a.m. and you can go to jail for doing it. Forrest Gump does have a few sports scenes, like college football, ping-pong and running, but they're not really instrumental to the story.

The rest of the Top 10 is even sillier. No. 6 is Fast Five ($626 million), followed by Cars 2 ($562 million), Cars ($462 million), Cars 3 ($383 million), and Fast & Furious ($363 million).

The Cars movies are cartoons. To say they're about motor racing is to consider Alvin and the Chipmunks one of the greatest rock bands in history.

Also high on the list of most successful sports movies: Gladiator (gladiatorial combat), Casino Royale (gambling), Ready Player One (esports), Slumdog Millionaire (game show), and Saturday Night Fever (dancing). None of them is a sport, and unless you're dining at Medieval Times, gladiatorial combat may be illegal. However, the roast chicken at Medieval Times rivals Costco birds for juiciness.

Sticking with real sports, the Top 5 films are: Karate Kid ($359 million), Enter the Dragon ($350 million), The Blind Side ($309 million), Rocky IV ($300 million), and Rocky III ($270 million).

Sports movies, like Rodney Dangerfield, don't get no respect. They rarely get mentioned at the Academy Awards. In nearly 100 years of Oscars, only three sports movies have won for Best Picture: Rocky (1973), Chariots of Fire (1981) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).

Only three actors have won Best Actor for a sports movie: Robert DeNiro (Raging Bull), Paul Newman (The Color of Money), and Wallace Beery (The Champ).

Only two actresses have won a sporty Best Actress award: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby). More important, Swank was judged "Hot" in a "Hot or Not Hot" contest on The Office with Michael Scott casting the deciding vote.

Technically, the sports movie with the most Oscar nominations is Gladiator with 12 nods. The actual sports movie with the most nominations is Pride of the Yankees (1942) with Gary Cooper portraying the Iron Horse. The real-life Babe Ruth has a cameo in the movie. It's a sad biopic, keep a hankie handy. The top bawler sports film, though, has to be Brian's Song, about the inspiring friendship of Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers and cancer-stricken running back Brian Piccolo.

If you consider hunting to be a sport (I don't), the saddest movie is Bambi, especially the scene where Bambi's mother is murdered by an unnamed "Man." I saw this movie as a kid and it still gets to me.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, the real people's choice awards, the most beloved sports movies ever is The Wrestler (2008), with Mickey Rourke playing a down and out, aging pro wrestler beset with drug, alcohol and health problems, sort of based on the life and near death of Jake "the Snake" Roberts.

True story: one time I took my son Andrew backstage to meet the wrestlers. Snake was holding court, entertaining young wrestlers with stories of the good old days. Before he got into one of his wilder, crazier tales, politically incorrect Roberts squinted with bleary eyes at Andrew, who was 8 at the time, and asked, "Wait, are you a (little person) or a kid?"

I'm not sure if he was serious. I'm 90 percent he was.

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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