Top Five Basketball Playing Animals

Most animals are great athletes, especially when compared to humans.  For every world record set by an athlete there is an animal that rolls its eyes and goes back to surviving.  One of the world’s strongest men is Brian Shaw.  He is six foot eight inches tall, weighs 430 pounds and recently dead lifted 985. Brian, that is wonderful, may your shake be filled with only the finest of proteins. Do you know who can lift waaaaaay more than that?  This ant.  Stig Stevenson can hold his breath underwater for twenty two minutes. Sperm whales can go up to an hour and a half between breaths and they are so out of shape that if they end up on a beach they need help getting back in.  Some eighteen year old basketball phenom has a forty four inch vertical? Birds can fly.

The problem with animals though is that they have very little interest in organized sport. If they don’t have to do it to ensure the safety of their species, they probably won’t. They lack motivation, not to mention opposable thumbs. Imagine trying to get a lion to play basketball…

Coach: “Okay Lion, this play is called five up.  Go down and post strong on the right block. Stevenson will set you a down screen as Jacko gets a flare on the opposite wing.  If Jacko isn’t open you’ll probably have a jumper at the elbow. Shoot the ball with confidence and hit the shot.”

Lion: “And then I get to eat a gazelle?”

Coach: “No, then you run back on defense.”

Lion: “I shall not do this. You humans have too much time on your hands.”

Thankfully, the fact that animals would actually hate playing basketball has led to no shortage of them doing exactly that in a whole lot of movies, cartoons and funny internet videos. From this material and the recent rise of advanced animals-playing-basketball statistics I have compiled a top five.



Air Bud tells the story of a new kid at a new school who has no friends and is too scared to try out for the basketball team. Naturally, the kid practices by himself and befriends an extremely well mannered stray golden retriever (because there are a lot of them running around.) It just so happens that the dog is really good at basketball. They both make the team and since I have never actually made it to the end of this movie I am assuming they win the championship.

Truth be told I really wanted to leave Bud off the list because he is just plain boring. He is a goody four shoes that tries way too hard to impress. There is no denying his natural abilities though, he dribbles past defenders with his nose and shoots no less than one hundred percent for the movie.



Grantland’s Zach Lowe recently penned ‘An All-Too-Serious Breakdown of Space Jam’  in which Lola finally got some respect. She is the only one of the Tunes that has any idea how to play basketball.  Her handles are crazy good, even for a bunny. She isn’t there to mess around either.  Bugs and the boys try giving her the what for and she wants nothing to do with it. Her tunnel vision devotion to the game is admirable and I am sure goes a long way to explaining her skills. It’s also very likely that she was just holding out on the off chance that Larry might ask for her pager number.



This is the only real animal to make the list.  The most amazing thing about this bird is that he is an even better golfer than he is basketball player. I like to think that his owner played a lot of NBA JAM with the volume turned way up and when the bird did his first dunk it turned to him and said “boomshakalaka!” This bird is called an Indian Ringneck. I know that because I used to have one, although mine never played any basketball.  He did, however, have an uncanny knack for crapping down the back of my shirt.



If you’ve not seen The Regular Show you probably don’t have kids, but even if you don’t I highly recommend it.  Mordecai is a 6’3” anthropomorphic Blue Jay who hangs out with his best buddy Rigby the raccoon. They are groundskeepers at a park and try to do as little work as possible without getting fired by their buzz kill of a boss, Benson (talking gumball machine).

In the episode ”Slam Dunk,” Mordecai and Rigby make a bet against two other guys at the park that they can beat them in a pick-up game. The stakes are pretty high but they are terrible basketball players. They summon a basketball god who descends from the sky in an Escalade with golden rims and speakers with the mega-bass dial turned up to eleven. When he realizes they are so bad that no amount of coaching could help, he grants them magical basketball powers. The ridiculousness of the whole situation mixed with the attention to detail on the actual basketball makes it really fun to watch.  Not to mention the soundtrack and the sick pair of golden winged “Pumps” they are wearing.



My earliest memory of this 1985 classic is watching the car surfing scene as a kid and having my mom warn me how incredibly dangerous it is. That was the moment I realized that Teen Wolf was a certified bad ass. It took me a few more viewings however to understand that Teen Wolf is essentially a basketball movie. It took me even a few more viewings to realize that in the climactic final scene when Teen Wolf is hugging his father an extra in the crowd pulls his wiener out of his zipper (his own wiener, not Teen Wolf’s dad’s) and no one noticed, but I digress.

Michael J. Fox plays a short nerdy point guard named Scott Howard. He is an awful player with even worse teammates. My favorite is the one nicknamed “Chubby”, who should be more accurately nicknamed “Fat.” He is at least thirty years old and no doubt fills his water bottle with milkshake.

Things are going nowhere fast for Howard until he finds out that he can turn into a werewolf. The first time he transforms in front of people is on the court. I personally had no idea werewolf’s were so good at basketball but evidently they are. He immediately starts running circles around his opponents doing street ball moves, making behind the back passes, blocking shots and of course dunking whenever he wants. The crowd and his teammates go nuts, and Chubby shoots milkshake out of his nose (off camera). Eventually, all this goes to his head and he turns into kind of an ass, but I can’t blame him. He has the world at his disgusting long nailed hairy fingertips with every 80’s high school chick worth their pegged pants wanting to him to sign their Trapper Keeper (yes that is a euphemism).

The movie does try and convey some sappy message, but the only message I got is that if I am choosing a basketball squad full of animals, Teen Wolf is my first choice and he’s runnin’ point.


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