Love & Basketball

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Love & Basketball
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGina Prince-Bythewood
Written byGina Prince-Bythewood
Produced by
CinematographyReynaldo Villalobos
Edited byTerilyn A. Shropshire
Music byTerence Blanchard
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • April 21, 2000 (2000-04-21)
Running time
127 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$14–20 million[1][2]
Box office$27.7 million[2]

Love & Basketball is a 2000 American romantic sports drama film written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood in her feature film directorial debut. The film is produced by Spike Lee and Sam Kit and stars Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps. It tells the story of Quincy McCall (Epps) and Monica Wright (Lathan), two next-door neighbors in Los Angeles, who are pursuing their respective basketball careers before eventually falling for each other.

Love & Basketball was released on April 21, 2000 in the United States. It received positive reviews from critics, with praise directed at the performances of Lathan and Epps, Prince-Bythewood's direction and script, and the emotional weight of the film. It grossed $27.7 million worldwide on a production budget of $14–20 million.

Over the years, the film has developed a dedicated following, cementing its place in popular culture, and establishing itself as a cult classic.[3][4][5][6]

In 2023, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."[7]


The story is divided into four quarters, each one representing a different period in the lives of the protagonists. The first quarter takes place in 1981, when Monica and Quincy are children and become friends due to their shared love for basketball. Monica proves to be an excellent player, beating Quincy in their first game of one on one. However, their friendship is threatened when Quincy knocks Monica down during a game, accidentally cutting her face. They reconcile and share their first kiss, but their relationship is complicated.

The second quarter is set in 1988 when Monica and Quincy are attending Crenshaw High School. Quincy is a star basketball player, and Monica is the leader of the girls' basketball team. Quincy is popular and dates the prettiest girl in school, while Monica struggles to control her emotions on the court and harbors feelings for Quincy. However, they manage to connect romantically and make love after both being accepted at the University of Southern California.

The third quarter begins when they start college, and Quincy is a promising player on the court while Monica frequently has run-ins with her head coach Ellie Davis and struggles to get playing time on the women's team. Quincy struggles to deal with the media attention and discovers his father's infidelity. The pressures of their athletic and academic commitments, coupled with their deteriorating relationship, cause them to break up.

The fourth quarter follows the plot to 1993, a few years before the establishment of the WNBA. Monica and Quincy are both professional basketball players. Monica plays for an International Women's Basketball Association (IWBA) team in Barcelona while Quincy is in his fifth year as a player for the Los Angeles Lakers. After visiting Quincy in the hospital following a devastating knee injury, Monica learns he is engaged to be married. She also confronts her mother, Camille, about their troubled past. Quincy recovers from his injury and his wedding draws closer, while Monica quits basketball to work at a bank. Camille encourages Monica to pursue her dreams and Quincy and Monica play a high stakes one-on-one game, with Quincy agreeing to call off the wedding if he loses. Although Quincy wins, he realizes he can't live without Monica and chooses her instead. The two get married and have a daughter. Monica later plays in the WNBA.

In a post-credits scene, Quincy and Monica's daughter is shown playing basketball at a playground.


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


In writing the semi-autobiographical film, Prince-Bythewood said her goal was "to do a black When Harry Met Sally." She has credited executive producer Spike Lee with enabling the production of the film and the opportunity to direct her own script. Gabrielle Union, who wound up playing Quincy's high school love interest, originally auditioned for the lead role of Monica. Prior to playing Monica, Sanaa Lathan had never played basketball. Unbeknownst to Prince-Bythewood, stars Lathan and Omar Epps had started dating prior to the film's production.[8]

This was the second film to feature both Epps and Dennis Haysbert; prior to this, they played teammates on a fictitious version of the Cleveland Indians in the 1994 baseball movie Major League II.


Love & Basketball is the soundtrack to the film, released April 18, 2000, on Overbrook Entertainment and Interscope Records.[9] Production for the album came from several recording artists, including Raphael Saadiq, Angie Stone, Zapp, and Steve "Silk" Hurley.[10] In the US, the album peaked at number 45 on the Billboard 200 and number 15 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[11] Stacia Proefrock of Allmusic gave the album a three-of-five star review, saying, "Songs like Meshell Ndegeocello'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."[12]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 113 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes."[13] At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 70 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

Film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave Love & Basketball an A− review. She enjoyed how the film portrayed women's sports in general and said, "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."[16]

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."[17] Film critic Desson Thomson of The Washington Post 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."[18]

New York Post 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 opined the film is "filled with fake-sounding dialogue you only find in the cheesiest TV movies."[19] Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote, "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."[20] Ebert gave the film three out of four stars.[20] 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."[21] Of the acting, he stated, "Omar Epps possesses a chiseled body and a blank stare [...] Lathan is only slightly better, but she's stuck in a hollow role."[21]

A 2015 review of the film by The A.V. Club praises it as a "nearly perfect modern romantic drama", and notes that it is an impressive debut for writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood. The review highlights the film's focus on the protagonist, Monica, and her coming-of-age story as a female basketball player who is constantly told that her body type and attitude are unacceptable. The review also notes the film's respect for Monica's athleticism, which is captured in every frame, and praises the director's tender and celebratory gaze towards her female lead.[22]

Box office[edit]

Love & Basketball was released in North America on April 21, 2000 to 1,237 theaters.[2] 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.[23] 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.[2] The film grossed $27,728,118 worldwide; $268,503 (1%) was grossed outside of the United States.[2]

Home video[edit]

Love & Basketball was released on DVD in the United States on after its theatrical release.[17] It was released by The Criterion Collection on Blu-ray on September 21, 2021.[24][25]


BET Awards

Year Award Nominee Result Ref.
2001 Best Actress Sanaa Lathan Won [26]
Best Actor Omar Epps Nominated

Black Reel Awards

Year Award Nominee Result Ref.
2001 Best Film Love & Basketball Won [27]
Best Film Poster Won
Best Soundtrack Won
Best Actress Sanaa Lathan Won
Best Director Gina Prince-Bythewood Won
Best Song "Fool of Me" (Meshell Ndegeocello) Won

Humanitas Prize

Year Award Nominee Result Ref.
2000 Sundance Film Category Love & Basketball Won [28]

Independent Spirit Awards

Year Award Nominee Result Ref.
2000 Best First Feature Love & Basketball Nominated [29][30][31][32]
Best First Screenplay Gina Prince-Bythewood Won
Best Female Lead Sanaa Lathan Nominated

Key Art Awards

Year Award Nominee Result Ref.
2001 Best Drama Poster D Stevens Won [33]

NAACP Image Awards

Year Award Nominee Result Ref.
2001 Outstanding Motion Picture Love & Basketball Nominated [34]
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Omar Epps Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Sanaa Lathan Won [35]
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Alfre Woodard Won
Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Kyla Pratt Nominated [34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (July 10, 2020). "Gina Prince-Bythewood Made a Summer Blockbuster. It's About Time". The New York Times. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Love & Basketball (2000)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  3. ^ "20 years later, the cast and crew of 'Love & Basketball' consider its legacy in an oral history". Los Angeles Times. April 21, 2020. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  4. ^ Ligons, Jordan (April 21, 2020). "Why We Keep Returning to 'Love and Basketball' 20 Years Later". The Ringer. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  5. ^ "An oral history of 'Love & Basketball,' 20 years later". April 21, 2020. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  6. ^ Tamani, Liara (April 16, 2020). "'Love & Basketball' Was More Than a Movie. It Changed My Whole Life". Time. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  7. ^ "National Film Registry: 'Apollo 13', 'Home Alone', 'Terminator 2', '12 Years a Slave' Among 25 Titles Added This Year". December 13, 2023.
  8. ^ Kelley, Sonaiya (April 21, 2020). "20 years later, the cast and crew of 'Love & Basketball' consider its legacy in an oral history". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  9. ^ "Love & Basketball (Soundtrack) – Original Soundtrack > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  10. ^ "Love & Basketball (Soundtrack) – Original Soundtrack > Credits". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  11. ^ "Love & Basketball (Soundtrack) – Original Soundtrack > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  12. ^ Proefrock, Stacia. "Love & Basketball (Soundtrack) – Original Soundtrack > Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  13. ^ "Love and Basketball". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  14. ^ "Love & Basketball Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  15. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Love & Basketball" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  16. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (April 28, 2000). "Love & Basketball". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  17. ^ a b Deahl, Rachel. "Love & Basketball – Review". AllRovi. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  18. ^ Thomson, Desson (April 21, 2000). "'Love and Basketball': A Winning Team". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  19. ^ Foreman, Jonathan. "It Shoots, It Misses". New York Post. Archived from the original on December 10, 2000. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  20. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (April 21, 2000). "Love & Basketball". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  21. ^ a b Wilonsky, Robert (April 20, 2000). "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.
  22. ^ "For the love of strong women, basketball, and a naked Omar Epps". The A.V. Club. March 26, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2023.
  23. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for April 21–23, 2000". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  24. ^ "Love & Basketball". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  25. ^ "Criterion Announces September 2021 Releases". Cinema Sentries. June 15, 2021. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  26. ^ Meara, Paul (April 21, 2019). "'Love & Basketball' Turns 19: See Where The Cast Is Today". Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  27. ^ "Past Nominees and Winners". Black Reel Awards. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  28. ^ "Past Winners: Sundance Winners". Humanitas Prize. Archived from the original on April 6, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  29. ^ "2001 Nominees" (PDF). Film Independent. p. 36. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  30. ^ "Love & Basketball > Awards". AllRovi. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on May 20, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  31. ^ "Official 16th Independent Spirit Awards ceremony" – via YouTube.
  32. ^ "Tiger Takes 3 Spirit Awards". ABC News. March 24, 2001. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  33. ^ "Biography". Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  34. ^ a b Braxton, Greg (December 8, 2000). "'Basketball,' 'Titans' Lead NAACP Nominations". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  35. ^ "2001 NAACP Image Awards". Infoplease. Retrieved January 25, 2011.


  • Prince-Bythewood, Gina (Director) (2000). Love & Basketball (DVD). Los Angeles, CA: New Line Cinema.

External links[edit]