Calvin Cambridge and his two best friends, Murph and Reg Stevens, live in an orphanage. Murph is the youngest of the trio, and has a very close bond with Calvin. At night they all have to sell chocolate for the awkward orphanage director, Stan Bittleman, after each home game of the (fictional) NBA team, the Los Angeles Knights.
Calvin meets the team's coach, who is impressed by Calvin's knowledge of basketball and honesty about the chocolates, and offers Calvin tickets for the next game. Inside a thrift store donation box, Calvin finds a pair of old sneakers that were used by Michael Jordan. Calvin's sneakers are taken by a jealous bully named Ox who throws them onto an overhead power line. When Calvin tries to retrieve them that night in a rainstorm he is shocked by a lightning bolt.
Calvin and his friends attend the basketball game between the Knights and the Minnesota Timberwolves. After the second quarter ends, the team's star player, Tracy Reynolds, prepares for a halftime contest. Calvin's ticket number is called and he goes one on one with Tracy. Calvin ends the contest with a dunk after bouncing the ball off the backboard. Reg and the crowd give Calvin a standing ovation. Calvin is signed to a one-day contract by the Knights. Calvin prepares for his first game with the Knights, but realizes that he is not there to play. When the Knights play the San Antonio Spurs they start losing badly and Coach Wagner decides to let Calvin play in the fourth quarter. Calvin leads a comeback against the Spurs and they win, which leads to Calvin getting a season contract. Reynolds becomes his mentor since Calvin is a minor. Calvin brings teamwork to the Knights and makes them one of the best teams in the league. Tracy starts to respect Calvin after Calvin gets himself into trouble when making sure that Tracy didn't miss curfew.
Bittleman signs a contract with the team that all of Calvin's money will go to him until Calvin is eighteen, or adopted. When the second option is about to become true, Bittleman grows desperate and steals Calvin's shoes and bets US$100,000 against the Knights.
After convincing Ox and his cohorts that Bittleman is selfish, Ox takes the shoes out of Bittleman's safe. The kids head to the arena with Calvin's sneakers. Bittleman escapes and sends goons after Calvin in a failed attempt to steal the shoes back. Calvin makes it to the arena with the shoes after the 3rd quarter ends with Vince Carter and the Toronto Raptors routing the Knights 80–59.
In the 4th quarter of the last regular season, Calvin is put into the game by the coach and the Knights start to make a comeback. After a pile-on towards the end of the game, Calvin's shoes are ruined with the Knights down by one point. Without the shoes, and wanting to be a normal child, Calvin tells the team this will be his last game. In the final play, Calvin manages to pump fake to get Vince Carter to jump and pass the ball to Tracy. Tracy makes the game-winning shot to clinch the Knights their first playoff appearance.
After going back to his orphanage, Calvin and Murph get adopted by Tracy, and Reg by a different family, though they keep in touch. Bittleman is missing because he doesn't have enough money to pay the bet, and the orphanage is now sponsored by the Knights.
Like Mike grossed $51.4 million in North America and $10.8 million overseas for a total worldwide gross of $62.3 million, against its budget of $30 million. The film opened fifth at the box office with a 3-day gross of $12.2 million from 2,410 theaters and $19 million over its five-day opening.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 57% based on 97 reviews, and an average rating of 5.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A pleasant and innocuous diversion for kids, but adults may have trouble sitting through its predictable plotlines and schmaltz." On Metacritic, it has a score of 47 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.