Wily mentors and young bucks highlight Part 8
Photo illustration by Nick Roy / theScore

theScore is counting down the 100 best fictional characters in sports movie history, with a new post every weekday until July 3.

100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51
50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

30. Mr. Miyagi

"The Karate Kid" (1984), "The Karate Kid Part II" (1986), "The Karate Kid Part III (1989), and "The Next Karate Kid" (1994)

Before his role as mentor to Daniel LaRusso in the first three "The Karate Kid" films, Pat Morita was mostly known as a comedy actor on television shows like "Happy Days." His portrayal of Mr. Miyagi, a soft-spoken and big-hearted karate instructor who helps "Daniel-san" with real-life issues, helped revitalize his career and earned him an Academy Award nomination.

29. Amanda Whurlitzer

"The Bad News Bears" (1976)

In an environment where it was frowned upon for a girl to play on a boys' baseball team, Whurlitzer (Tatum O'Neal) rose above the ignorance with her beaming fastball and two-and-a-half-foot-breaking curve. But, even talented 11-year-olds like Whurlitzer have problems to deal with, like constant rejection by her coach and mother's ex-boyfriend, Morris Buttermaker, whom she views as a father figure.

28. Paul Crewe

"The Longest Yard" (1974)

Warning: Video contains coarse language

Just coming into his talents as a leading actor, Burt Reynolds deftly threaded the needle between comedy and emotional sensitivity as Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, a former star NFL quarterback turned inmate.

Of course, Reynolds was no novice on the gridiron. Before his distinguished acting career, he played halfback at Florida State in the mid-1950s until injuries derailed his athletic career.

27. Monica Wright

"Love & Basketball" (2000)

Few movies are told from the vantage point of female characters; even fewer feature Black women as protagonists. Through Wright (Sanaa Lathan), director Gina Prince-Bythewood explores all aspects of basketball - both the on-court trials shared by male athletes and the off-court expectations that are wholly unique to women in sport.

26. Benny 'The Jet' Rodriguez

"The Sandlot" (1993)

Rodriguez (Mike Vitar) had a lot going for him in "The Sandlot." He was far and away the team's best player and navigated even the most intense situations with ease. But, the coolest thing about "The Jet" was his acceptance of Scotty Smalls. Rodriguez was a better person than his peers and welcomed the new kid on the block into the team even though he wasn't very good at baseball. His reward? A friend for life.

25. 'Fast' Eddie Felson

"The Hustler" (1961) and "The Color of Money" (1986)

Few actors exuded cool as effortlessly as Paul Newman, making him the perfect pool shark in "The Hustler," then mentor to Vincent (Tom Cruise) in the sequel 25 years later.

His performance in "The Color of Money" finally won Newman an Academy Award after eight previous nominations.

24. Doug Glatt

"Goon" (2011) & "Goon: Last of the Enforcers" (2017)

Warning: Video contains coarse language

After more than a decade of playing frat boys and jocks in films like "Dude, Where's My Car?" and the "American Pie" series, Seann William Scott both played into and subverted that typecasting with Doug Glatt. Despite his success as a minor-league hockey enforcer, Doug is ultimately a noble meathead with an undercurrent of sweetness and sensitivity.

23. Scott Howard

"Teen Wolf" (1985)

As metaphors for puberty go, literally turning into a werewolf is on the nose. While not quite as notable as his star-making performance in the "Back to the Future" series, Michael J. Fox's boy-next-door charm is still on display (even when obscured by prosthetics and makeup). The moral of the story: No one cares what you look like as long as you're really good at putting the basketball in the net.

22. Adonis Johnson/Creed

"Creed" (2015) and "Creed II" (2018)

In the two "Creed" films, Michael B. Jordan helps rejuvenate the "Rocky" franchise by playing the extramarital son of former boxing champion, Apollo Creed. The younger Creed follows a nearly identical path to boxing fame as Rocky, whom he convinces to become his trainer, but also tugs on the audience's heartstrings by helping the retired fighter battle through severe illness.

21. Ebby Calvin 'Nuke' LaLoosh

"Bull Durham" (1988)

Warning: Video contains coarse language

LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) is a hotshot pitcher with a million-dollar arm and a 10-cent head in "Bull Durham." The character, who is based loosely on real-life pitcher Steve Dalkowski, aggravates at first because of his cockiness and know-it-all personality but becomes someone to root for as he blossoms into a big leaguer under the tutelage of Crash Davis and Annie Savoy.

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Wily mentors and young bucks highlight Part 8
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