74 user 52 critic

Hoop Dreams (1994)

1:29 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.


Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose
Life Itself (2014)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.

Director: Steve James
Stars: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel
Crumb (1994)
Documentary | Biography | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb
Hoop Reality (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Hoop Reality is the sequel to the 1994 documentary "Hoop Dreams" and explores what happened during the last decade from where "Hoop Dreams" left off. It follows the original basketball hero... See full summary »

Director: Lee Davis
Stars: Arthur Agee, Patrick Beverley, Lamont Bryant
Murderball (2005)
Documentary | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Quadriplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Stars: Joe Soares, Keith Cavill, Mark Zupan
Life After Hoop Dreams (Video 2015)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Directors: Steve James, Abbey Lustgarten
Stars: Arthur Agee, Sheila Agee, Catherine Gates
Grizzly Man (2005)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A devastating and heartrending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Timothy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, Werner Herzog
Iverson (2014)
Documentary | Biography | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Iverson is the ultimate legacy of NBA legend Allen Iverson, who rose from a childhood of crushing poverty in Hampton, Virginia, to become an 11-time NBA All-Star and universally recognized ... See full summary »

Director: Zatella Beatty
Stars: Allen Iverson, Tom Brokaw, Larry Brown
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.

Director: Andrew Jarecki
Stars: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A year in the life of a city grappling with urban violence.

Director: Steve James
Stars: Tio Hardiman, Ameena Matthews, Toya Batey
Spellbound (2002)
Documentary | Comedy | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee.

Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Stars: Angela Arenivar, Ubaldo Arenivar, Jorge Arenivar
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Robert McNamara, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro


Cast overview, first billed only:
Emma Gates ...
Herself - William's Mother
Curtis Gates ...
Himself - William's Brother
Herself - Arthur's Mother
Arthur 'Bo' Agee ...
Himself - Arthur's Father
Earl Smith ...
Himself - Talent Scout
Gene Pingatore ...
Himself - High School Basketball Coach
Himself - Professional Basketball Player
Marlyn Hopewell ...
Herself - High School Guidance Counselor (as Sister Marlyn Hopewell)
Bill Gleason ...
Himself - Television Reporter
Patricia Weir ...
Herself - President: Encyclopedia Brittanica
Marjorie Heard ...
Herself - High School Guidance Counselor
Luther Bedford ...
Himself - High School Basketball Coach
Aretha Mitchell ...
Herself - High School Guidance Counselor


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. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An Extraordinary True Story.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for drug content and some strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 October 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Basquete Blues  »

Box Office


$700,000 (estimated)


$7,830,611 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


To stay eligible for college basketball (according to NCAA rules), neither player's family received any money for the film's sale while in school. Agee and Gates were later made full partners and received shares equal to the producers'. See more »


[first lines]
Announcer: Welcome to the 38th Annual NBA All Star game from Chicago Stadium.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to the St. Joseph High School community and Coach Gene Pingatore who agreed to participate in a not for profit Kartemquin Educational film telling William and Arthur's stories. Today, St. Joseph, with a 39% minority enrollment, remains committed to the dream of a better life for all. Awarding need based financial aid to 40% of its students, St. Joseph with limited resources continues to maintain its academic excellence. A Hoop Dreams Fund has been set up to provide academic scholarships. See more »


Referenced in The Office: St. Patrick's Day (2010) See more »


Dream Theme
Written & Performed by Tom Yore
© 1993
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A real, human drama
10 May 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Hoop Dreams" is a film about real life, because that is what it's exactly about, real life. I feel that I must put a stronger emphasis on the word "real" to get my point across. This isn't some hokey, Hollywood drama about living out a dream, but is about two aspiring young athletes rising out of the dredges of the Chicago ghetto life and into the flash and glitter of the NBA.

Though I'm not a hardcore sports fan, nor am I really into movies about sports, but I really admire basketball, as I feel it has a kind of grace and natural balance that's lacking in most other sports this vigorous. That is why I like some of the film's exhilarating on-court action that is interspersed evenly with the human drama.

Directed by Steve James and produced by Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert, "Hoop Dreams" originally began as a 30-minute documentary about rising ballplayers, but the filmmakers quickly saw that 30 minutes was just too narrow a scope for their story. This realization came when they witnessed two teens, William Gates and Arthur Agee, as they both try to join the NBA, much like their idol Isiah Thomas.

In total, 250+ hours of footage was gathered over the course of a five-year period and then edited into an engaging 171-minute documentary, following the two teens (from ages 14-18), as they attend expensive Catholic schools, go through the rigorous on-court training, meet the demands of their coaches, and live out their dreams. (Director Spike Lee also appears at a training camp and gives some of the aspiring players some less-than-inspiring advice about what their skills mean to the people at the top of the ladder.)

We watch as their poignant, real-life struggles unfold on the screen, and watch as time after time they get stonewalled by the system of bureaucracy and racism that's meant to be especially hard on two young black boys from the ghetto. They have difficulty with making decent grades, financial issues, preparing for the ACT, sports-related injuries, and must contend with problems at home as well, including trouble with family matters (Arthur's relationship with his father is especially touching and sad; William welcomes a new addition to his family while still in high school).

For years, success stories, such as "Hoop Dreams," have dominated Hollywood cinema and have won over legions of audiences, but we've never seen anything like this. Gates and Agee are both bright-eyed and ambitious that they're embarking on something that's historically significant to their lives and community.

This is the best movie about basketball and reality I've seen yet because of the simple fact that it's real; no scripts, no phony Hollywood theatrics, just "real" action, drama, and emotions.


20 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Are the critics crazy, or am I?? haverpopper4
the guy who introduced arthur to st joseph neighborly
ACT Math? tylerh1701
I wanted them to make it.. juelzhickz-1
Ebert's Review ccow4140
other players throughout the movie bsl05
Discuss Hoop Dreams (1994) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page