When you’re not a basketball fan, you just don’t know things like former Cleveland Cavaliers and current Boston Celtics hoop star Kyrie Irving is from Australia, or that Uncle Drew, the heavily made up 70ish-year-old character he plays in the basketball comedy “Uncle Drew” was first seen in a series of Pepsi commercials.

When you’re not a basketball fan, it’s a given that you don’t go to a lot of basketball movies. Well, those who do follow the sport will flock to “Uncle Drew,” due to its star power, involving a handful of current and former NBA players. But even if you’re not a follower, that’s no reason to take a pass on this light and fluffy, sweet and funny, and mostly predictable story of longtime friendships and making dreams come true.

Like so many other films in the sports genre, it’s the tale of the little train that could. In this case there are two trains. One is Dax (Lil Rel Howery), the wannabe basketball player who never had a chance at the game and has settled for being a coach. But he’s a coach with the big goal of having a winning team at the renowned Rucker Park Tournament in Harlem — a real and very big deal event in the world of playground basketball. The other train is the team he assembles shortly after running into a wall of bad luck. That team is headed up by the mysterious, crusty, and fleet on his feet, sharpshooting oldster Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving), and includes some of the pals he used to play with on the same outdoor court decades ago, all of them played by various basketball legends.

There’s Lights (Reggie Miller), who can hardly see; Boots (Nate Robinson), who’s confined to a wheelchair; Preacher (Chris Webber), who is most comfortable performing wild baptism ceremonies; and Big Fella (Shaquille O’Neal), who is still ensconced in a 50-year-old beef with Drew. Can young Dax figure a way to get this unlikely five-man squad into shape so they can work their way up to the $100,000 prize on that Harlem court?

The film shifts into a variety of gears before the main story gets going. First it’s a faux documentary, with a bunch of talking heads, including basketballers Jerry West to Bill Walton, heaping praise on Uncle Drew and his long ago Rucker Park victories. Then it’s the sad tale of Dax getting used and soaked by supposed friends and lovers all around him. Soon after, it becomes a road movie, as Dax and Drew head out to find and reassemble the old team. Finally, it’s game time.

Even though the scenes of actual playing are minimal, this is a sports movie all the way. But it’s also, in equal measure, a comedy, and there’s plenty of that, ranging from Preacher’s flamboyant church behavior to Drew’s penchant for old school soul music on eight-track tapes to — in the film’s only stab at politics — Dax’s smarmy rival coach Mookie (Nick Kroll) proudly announcing that he has a degree from Trump University.

There are some good sight gags from everyone, while the verbal humor comes mostly from Howery (who was also funny in “Get Out”) revealing his frustrations via motormouth delivery of his dialogue, and from Irving when he goes into trash-talking mode. The script devotes a bit of time for some seriousness. At one quiet point, Dax says to Drew, “I always loved the game, but the game never loved me back.” At another, a health issue is brought to the fore, which shouldn’t be a surprise, since these hard-playing guys are supposed to be in their 70’s.

But it almost immediately returns to the action and the funny stuff when everyone is back on that court in Harlem for the tournament. There aren’t a lot of surprises here. It’s a film that goes exactly where you think and hope it will go. And it has a ball getting there.

— Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at esymkus@rcn.com.

“Uncle Drew”

Written by Jay Longino; directed by Charles Stone III

With Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson

Rated PG-13