theScore is counting down the 100 best fictional characters in sports movie history, with a new post every weekday until July 3.
"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982)
In his youth, Oscar winner Forest Whitaker portrayed Jefferson, a football player who goes crazy and decides to decapitate everyone on a rival high school team after he's duped into thinking they destroyed his favorite car. Jefferson's role is a minor but memorable one in this classic stoner flick.
Will Ferrell's hot streak of comedic hits in the 2000s gave him carte blanche for future projects. There are certainly some parallels between the actor and his character, Jackie Moon, a one-hit-wonder disco crooner who uses his wealth to buy an ABA team and then inserts himself into the starting lineup. Though elements are exaggerated, Moon perfectly exemplifies the zaniness of the NBA's short-lived competitor.
"Above the Rim" (1994)
Warning: Video contains coarse language
Still working through the trauma of witnessing his friend die during a rooftop game of one-on-one, Shep (Leon) keeps his potent basketball abilities under wraps. Seeing him almost single-handedly take out Birdie's (Tupac Shakur) team at the neighborhood tournament while wearing corduroy pants and a long-sleeve shirt is one of the truly great feats of athleticism ever in a film.
"Varsity Blues" (1999)
Mox (James Van Der Beek) is a subversion of a lead character often seen in sports films. As his powerhouse high school football team's brainy backup quarterback, Mox can see the pitfalls of the amateur sports world with uncanny clarity, which results in him sticking up to authoritarian head coach Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight).
"Little Giants" (1994)
When Spike (Sam Horrigan) moves to town in "Little Giants," Danny O'Shea (Rick Moranis) fakes the military kid's identity to get him on the football team, only to find out the muscle-bound meathead is a chauvinist who won't play with his daughter. Spike eventually gets his comeuppance against the Giants later in the film when his former teammates beat him during a youth football showdown.
"Rocky I-V" (1976-1990)
Adrian (Talia Shire) may start out as a shy nerd working in a pet store in the original Rocky film, but as the series evolves, she becomes arguably the greatest supporting character in sports movie history. While Rocky takes the physical punishment of every blow in the ring, it's Adrian who wears the emotional scars of being in love with a fighter who just doesn't know when to quit.
In "BASEketball," South Park creator Trey Parker plays lead loser Cooper, who's transformed into a star player for the Milwaukee Beers after helping to invent an absurd combo sport, and he eventually becomes the team's owner. Parker's comedy in the film as Cooper, while funny at times, just makes "BASEketball" feel like a live-action version of South Park.
"Bend It Like Beckham" (2002)
Before she became famous for swashbuckling epics and period pieces, Keira Knightley shined as Jules in the 2002 sleeper hit "Bend It Like Beckham." Adding to the performance's charm, Knightley did her own playing scenes, rather than stepping aside for a stunt double.
"The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001)
Though "The Royal Tenenbaums" isn't really a sports movie at its core, Richie "Baumer" Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) perfectly embodies the ethos of the proverbial burned-out tennis prodigy: Erratic, despondent, and competing inside his own head. He's like John McEnroe mixed with The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson.
"Happy Gilmore" (1996)
Chubbs Peterson may not be Carl Weathers' best work in a sports film, but the golf instructor who lost his hand to an alligator is an incredible character who delivers comedy gold with minimal screen time. Remember everyone, the key to putting is to "Tap it in. Just tap it in."