Love & Basketball

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Love & Basketball
Film poster
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
Produced by Andrew Z. Davis
Cynthia Guidry
Spike Lee
Jay Stern
Sam Kitt
Written by Gina Prince-Bythewood
Starring Sanaa Lathan
Omar Epps
Dennis Haysbert
Debbi Morgan
Alfre Woodard
Music by Terence Blanchard
Cinematography Reynaldo Villalobos
Edited by Terilyn A. Shropshire
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
April 21, 2000 (2000-04-21)
Running time
124 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $27,728,118

Love & Basketball is a 2000 American romantic drama film starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. The film tells the story of Quincy McCall (Epps) and Monica Wright (Lathan), two next-door neighbors in Los Angeles, California who are pursuing their basketball careers before eventually falling for each other. The film was produced by 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, and marks the directing debut of screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood.


The film spans through roughly thirteen years of friendship between childhood sweethearts Monica Wright and Quincy McCall. In the first part, Monica and her family move to Los Angeles in 1981 from Atlanta, Georgia and become acquainted with their new neighbors the McCalls. The McCalls are a wealthy family because Quincy's father, Zeke, is the shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers. Quincy and Monica are drawn to each other and share a passion for basketball.

The second quarter begins in 1988. Monica and Quincy, still friends, are the respective leaders of their high school teams. Scouts have clearly taken notice of Quincy, and many see him as one of the top prospects in the country. His popularity is evident on and off the court; he becomes a heartthrob to several girls who attend his school. Monica, on the other hand, struggles with her fiery emotions on the court. This issues hinders her performance to the point that scouts turn away from her. She also struggles with the feelings she secretly still harbors for Quincy. Her relationship with her mother Camille, who for years has tried unsuccessfully to get Monica to be more feminine, is severely strained. Monica resists the efforts because she thinks her mother is too weak and submissive. Meanwhile, the relationship between Quincy's parents has slowly begun to deteriorate as "late work nights" cause Quincy's mother to suspect Zeke of infidelity. As time passes, Monica learns to control her emotions and leads her team to the state championship game, where her team falls short of victory. She recovers from the loss with the help of her older sister, Lena, who gives her a makeover and finds an attractive college friend to take her to the spring dance. At the dance, Monica and Quincy find themselves jealously glancing at each other and their respective dates. Later that night, after the dance, they speak to each other outside Monica's window and reveal to each other how their dates did not fulfill their desires. She tells him that she has received a letter from USC and insists he opens it. After the letter reveals that she has been accepted, he proclaims that USC was also his top choice. As they reach to congratulate one another with a hug, their lips meet in a kiss. They finally acknowledge their true feelings for each other and have sex for the first time.

The third quarter follows Quincy and Monica during their freshman year at USC, where they are athletes, students, and a couple. While Quincy is an instant hit with female followers and scouts alike. In contrast, Monica struggles to get playing time. Quincy's life, though, is not trouble-free. His relationship with Monica starts to unravel as he struggles to deal with the media attention surrounding a paternity suit filed by a former lover against his father. Feeling betrayed, Quincy threatens to leave school early for the NBA. At the end of the season, Monica finally snags the starting point guard spot. However, Quincy decides to break up with Monica because he thinks she did not provide him enough support during his crisis. He declares himself open for the NBA draft.

The fourth quarter takes place during the early 1990s, a few years before the establishment of the WNBA. Monica's professional basketball prospects lie exclusively in the International Women's Basketball Association. She lives in Barcelona, Spain, where she is a local sports celebrity and the focal point of her team's offense. Though she leads her team to a championship, she realizes she has lost her love for the game. Meanwhile, Quincy is spending his fifth year in the NBA (also his fifth year since leaving USC) as a bench player for the Los Angeles Lakers, rarely receiving time on the court. During a Lakers blowout win, Quincy injures himself in a slam dunk attempt. His parents, now divorced, attend to him at the hospital. When Monica hears about Quincy's injury, she immediately flies home to see him. After she learns that Quincy is engaged and meets his fiancée, Kyra, Monica realizes that her feelings for Quincy have never been truer and that she is still in love with him.

Over the next few months, Quincy undergoes rehabilitation as the day of his wedding draws closer. By this time, Monica has decided to quit basketball. When Quincy asks why, she states that it is no longer fun for her. Quincy replies that he never knew anyone who loved basketball as much as she did. Interestingly enough, Monica's own mother, who for so long did not understand Monica's love of the game, encourages her not to give up on it. Later on, Quincy and Monica meet up once again as friends and reminisce over their shared past. Once Quincy has fully recovered from his injury, Monica, acting on her feelings, issues an ultimatum. She challenges him to one final game on the court. If he loses, he must call off the wedding and choose Monica; if not, he marries his fiancée. Quincy accepts the challenge and goes on to narrowly defeat Monica. He realizes, though, that he can no longer stand being apart from Monica and chooses her anyway. The film then fast-forwards to 1998. Monica has gone pro in the WNBA as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks. She has married Quincy and uses the surname Wright-McCall. The film ends with Quincy helping their baby daughter to cheer on Monica as she is introduced at a Sparks game.


Sanaa Lathan (left) and Omar Epps (right) are the two main characters of the film.

Cast and crew adapted from AllRovi.[1]



From August 1999 to October 1999


Love & Basketball is the soundtrack to the film, released April 18, 2000, on Overbrook Entertainment and New Line Records.[2] Production for the album came from several recording artists, including Raphael Saadiq, Angie Stone, Zapp, and Steve "Silk" Hurley.[3] In the US, the album peaked at number 45 on the Billboard 200 and number 15 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[4] Stacia Proefrock of Allmusic gave the album a three-of-five star review, saying "Songs like MeShell Ndege'ocello's 'Fool of Me' help punctuate this story of childhood friends who love each other almost as much as they love the game of basketball. Other highlights of the soundtrack include songs from MC Lyte, Al Green, and Rufus."[5]


Love & Basketball was released in the United States on April 21, 2000.[6]



Love & Basketball received generally favorable reviews from film critics.[7] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 70, based on 28 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable".[7] At Rotten Tomatoes, which is similar to Metacritic, the film received an aggregated score of 82%, based on 87 reviews stating, "Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes."[8] Film reviewer Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave Love & Basketball an A- review.[9] She enjoyed how the film portrayed women's sports in general and says "The speed and wiliness of the game itself ensure that movies about men who shoot hoops are exciting, but the novelty of watching women bring their own physical grace to the contest is a turn-on."[9] Schwarzbaum also appreciated Prince-Bythewood's directing skills, claiming "[She] is also vigilant and honest about the hard sacrifices made in pursuit of sexual equality. And for that, she scores big in her first pro game."[9]

Rachel Deahl of AllRovi gave the film 3.5 out of 5 stars. In her review she complimented Epps and Lathan on their performances, and said, "Love & Basketball serves as a somber reminder of how few films exist (much less love stories, much less ones that focus on the female perspective) about multi-dimensional African-American characters outside the ghetto."[6] Film critic Desson Howe of The Washington Post '​s Entertainment Guide wrote, "Love and Basketball had moments of such tenderness and sophistication, complimented [sic] by such romantic dreaminess between lead performers Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. First-time filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood's film joins such films as The Best Man and The Wood, which look for the class, not the crass, in African American life." Howe gave the film a favorable review.[10]

New York Post film critic Jonathan Foreman gave the film a mixed review; he appreciated how the film "effectively conveys the excitement of basketball from a player's point of view", but says it's filled with fake-sounding dialogue you only find in the cheesiest TV movies."[11] Roger Ebert, film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, says "The film is not as taut as it could have been, but I prefer its emotional perception to the pumped-up sports clichés I was sort of expecting. It's about the pressures of being a star athlete; the whole life, not the game highlights. I'm not sure I quite believe the final shot, though. I think the girl suits up for the sequel." Ebert gave the film three out of four stars.[12] Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer gave the film a negative review, saying, "[it] is a film built upon transitions so weak and obvious it's astonishing the entire thing doesn't collapse on itself. You want to root for it, as you would any rookie underdog, but it offers nothing to cheer for."[13] He also elaborates on the bad acting, stating "Omar Epps possesses a chiseled body and a blank stare [...] Lathan is only slightly better, but she's stuck in a hollow role."[13]

Box office[edit]

Love & Basketball was released in North America on April 21, 2000 to 1,237 theaters.[14] It grossed $3,176,000 its first day and ending its North American weekend with $8,139,180, which was the second-highest grossing movie of the April 21–23, 2000 weekend, only behind U-571.[15] Love & Basketball grossed $27,459,615 in the United States, which is ninth all-time for a basketball film and thirty-seventh all-time for a sports drama.[14] The film grossed $27,728,118 worldwide; $268,503 (1%) was grossed outside of the United States.[14]


BET Awards
Year Recipient Award Result
2001 Sanaa Lathan Best Actress Won[16]
Black Reel Awards
Year Recipient Award Result
2001 Love & Basketball Best Film Won[17]
Love & Basketball Best Film Poster Won[17]
Love & Basketball Best Soundtrack Won[17]
Sanaa Lathan Theatrical – Best Actress Won[17]
Gina Prince-Bythewood Theatrical – Best Director Won[17]
"Fool of Me" (Meshell Ndegeocello) Best Song Won[17]
Humanitas Prize
Year Recipient Award Result
2000 Love & Basketball Sundance Film Category Won[18]
Independent Spirit Awards
Year Recipient Award Result
2000 Gina Prince-Bythewood Best First Screenplay Won[19]
Key Art Awards
Year Recipient Award Result
2001 D. Stevens Best Drama Poster Won[16]
NAACP Image Award
Year Recipient Award Result
2001 Sanaa Lathan Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Won[20]
Alfre Woodard Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Won[20]


  • Prince-Bythewood, Gina (Director) (2000). Love & Basketball (DVD). Los Angeles, CA: New Line Cinema. 
  1. ^ "Love & Basketball – Cast and Crew". AllRovi. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Love & Basketball (Soundtrack) – Original Soundtrack > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Love & Basketball (Soundtrack) – Original Soundtrack > Credits". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Love & Basketball (Soundtrack) – Original Soundtrack > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  5. ^ Proefrock, Stacia. "Love & Basketball (Soundtrack) – Original Soundtrack > Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Deahl, Rachel. "Love & Basketball – Review". AllRovi. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Love & Basketball Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Love and Basketball". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Schwarzbaum, Lisa (April 28, 2000). "Movie Review: Love * Basketball (2000)". Entertainment Weekly. CNN. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  10. ^ Howe, Desson (April 21, 2000). "'Love and Basketball': A Winning Team". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  11. ^ Foreman, Jonathan. "It Shoots, It Misses". New York Post. Archived from the original on December 10, 2000. 
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 21, 2000). "Love & Basketball". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Wilonsky, Robert. "Foul Shots: All's So-so in the Off-the-mark Hoop Drama Love & Basketball". Dallas Observer. Archived from the original on February 23, 2001. 
  14. ^ a b c "Love & Basketball (2000)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 18, 2008. 
  15. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for April 21–23, 2000". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "Love and Basketball (2000) – Awards". IMDb. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f "Black Reel Awards (2001)". IMDb. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Past Winners: Sundance Winners". Humanitas Prize. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Love & Basketball > Awards". AllRovi. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "2001 NAACP Image Awards". Infoplease. Retrieved January 25, 2011. 

External links[edit]