The Definitive Top 25 Sports Movies of the 1990s: 25) Air Bud

The Definitive Top 25 Sports Movies of the 1990s: 25) Air Bud

Just as the 90s gave us some of the greatest wrestling entrance songs of all-time, they bestowed us with some of the finer pieces of sports cinema. Some might argue the 80s brought the real classics in Bull Durham, The Natural, Hoosiers and the indelible Major League (burn on, big river, burn on). But whereas the 80s had the Murderer’s Row of classics, the 90s had the Dream Team depth of legends. Just about every sport is covered in some memorable form, from the sappy to slapstick, from motivating to mortifying. So I’ve developed my Associated Press voting pool of 1 to come up with the DEFINITIVE Top 25 Sports Movies of the 1990s (TM). I’ve developed the most analytical of metrics to provide incontrovertible proof that only I can sufficiently place these films in correct descending order of value. They include:

  • Most Valuable Character
  • Most Disappointing Character
  • Best Quote
  • Best Scene

Nate Silver can’t argue with that. I’ll continue this series over the course of the next few months, or well, until I’m able to finish it. I’m only including movies I’ve actually seen so it will exclude a select few (Yes, the fact I haven’t seen Hoop Dreams is an offense of the highest order). HOWEVAH, the show must go on and the numbers don’t lie. Enough fluff, let’s get to the start of the show.

25. Air Bud

air bud

This isn’t a 25 ranking so much as a chance to rant. Admittedly, I have gotten way too worked up over Mr. Bud over the years. I spent Valentine’s Day 2009 YELLING at my television about why the hell they let a dog play in an elementary school basketball game. I regret nothing. Why in the hell DID they let a dog play in an elementary school basketball game? This movie should be over in the first 20 minutes. The pivotal scene occurs when the doofus referees converge at the scorer’s table to determine if Air Bud should be allowed to play.

Now, I’m not one to besmirch the name of Bill Cobbs as I celebrate his entire catalog of work. And his suave moves work wonders here as he easily dupes these Keystone Cop referees that “Ain’t no rules says the dog can’t play basketball.” I think Joey Crawford coined that phrase. HOW ABOUT THE DOG DOESN’T GO TO SCHOOL??? These rankings  are going to be covering mystical basketball games against alien invaders, angels aiding the course of baseball games and a 5’2″ 40 year old making the Notre Dame football team. But we’re talking rules dammit. That’s right, they’re not all good dogs. If nothing else, upon further research that Valentines Day night we did find an Air Bud Aussie Rules Football poster which sadly, appears to not have hit the top of the box office charts. There’s still time to be good, Mr. Bud.


Most Valuable Character: Bill Cobbs as Coach Arthur Chaney 


Kind of spoiled this one with my rant but yeah it’s Bill Cobbs. Anyone that can walk around half-buzzed as fake jazz legend Del Paxton in “That Thing You Do” gets some free passes. And hey, you can’t blame him for working the refs to get Air Bud to play because that’s half the battle. And you can’t blame him for degrading himself to coaching a frigging dog because well, we all have to pay the mortgage.

Most Disappointing Character: The Ref

Dammit I just can’t get over it. And not only did he get to serve out his term as the ref in the original, he got to reprise his role as a soccer referee in Air Bud: World Pup!

air bud ref soccer.jpg

Hell he’ll probably be heading up World Cup in Russia.

Best Quote: 

Referee: Does he dribble?

Arthur Chaney: No, but he might drool a little bit.

Coach got jokes.

Best Scene


Rather than pick a singular scene I’m just going to go with this higlights mixtape set to Future. Definitely a Flagrant 2 at the 44 second mark though.

In total they would go on to make 4 more Air Bud movies, all surely more infuriating as they went on. If nothing else, how about letting that dog chill out a little bit, quit working it to death for sport. Shadow couldn’t even get out of that mud pit at the end of Homeward Bound and you’re expecting Air Bud to figure out the intricacies of baseball? At least he got to look sharp, guess I’m just going to have to deal with it.

air bud sunglasses.jpeg

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