Love & Basketball

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Love & Basketball
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGina Prince-Bythewood
Produced byAndrew Z. Davis
Cynthia Guidry
Spike Lee
Jay Stern
Sam Kitt
Written byGina Prince-Bythewood
Music byTerence Blanchard
CinematographyReynaldo Villalobos
Edited byTerilyn A. Shropshire
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • April 21, 2000 (2000-04-21)
Running time
124 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million
Box office$27 million

Love & Basketball is a 2000 American romantic drama film starring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps. 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 directorial debut of screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood. The film received slight competition and comparison from a film with a similar theme, Girlfight.


Monica and Quincy have wanted to be professional basketball stars since they were kids. The two became childhood sweethearts in 1981, when Monica’s family moved to Los Angeles from Atlanta, moving into the house next door to Quincy’s. Quincy's father, Zeke, is the star shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers. Quincy is shocked that a girl could love basketball as much as he does, and can play so well. They share their first kiss on the first day of school.

The story jumps to 1988, when both Monica and Quincy are the respective leaders of their high school teams, with Quincy touted as one of the top prospects in the country. While popular with the girls, he and Monica are still good friends.

Monica, on the other hand, struggles with her fiery emotions on the court, often resulting in technical fouls at critical moments of games, damaging potential scouting opportunities. Monica also struggles with the emotions she secretly still harbors for Quincy. She also struggles with her mother, Camille, pressuring her to give up basketball and "act like a lady." Through soul searching, Monica learns to control her emotions and leads her team to the state championship game. When she and her team came up short, Monica feels devastated.

Monica begins to recover from the championship loss with the help of her older sister, Lena, who gives her a makeover. She even finds Monica a college friend to take her to her spring dance. Despite having a date of his own, Quincy notices Monica and compliments her new appearance. Later that night, they both speak outside her window and reveal to each other how their dates didn't meet their needs. Monica asks Quincy to open her letter from USC – which reveals she has been accepted. Quincy has accepted an offer from USC as well, and they celebrate with a kiss. This leads to them finally acting on their feelings, making love that night.

The story moves to their freshman year at USC, where they are managing themselves as athletes, students, and a couple. While Quincy finds instant success on the court, Monica struggles for playing time, behind senior guard Sidra O'Neal. Monica has run ins with the head coach, Ellie Davis. Her relationship with Quincy becomes more and more strained. Quincy struggles to deal with the media attention, while clashing against his father’s efforts to convince Quincy to finish college before going pro. While Monica earns the starting point guard spot at the end of the season, Quincy feels she was not there for him when he was having problems with his father, and the couple splits up.

The story jumps to 1993. Monica is playing professional basketball with an International Women's Basketball Association (IBWA) team in Barcelona. She misses home, but can't imagine a life that doesn’t include basketball. While Monica leads her team to a dominant victory in the championship game, she starts to realize that her love for basketball isn't the same as it was before.

Having left USC after his freshman season, Quincy is now in his fifth year in the pros. He has been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, but tears his ACL in a game. Monica flies home to see him, and is saddened to meet Quincy's fiancée, Kyra. Monica also falls into the usual squabbles with her mother Camille.

Quincy completes physical therapy, while his wedding draws closer. Monica has quit basketball to work at a bank. Seeing how unhappy Monica is, Camille encourages her to fight for her career and the man she loves.

Quincy and Monica meet and reminisce. Monica challenges him to a game of one-on-one, with high stakes; if he loses, he calls off the wedding and chooses Monica. Quincy agrees and wins, but can no longer be apart from Monica and chooses her instead.

The film jumps to 1998. Monica is playing in the new WNBA. Quincy and their baby daughter cheer on Monica during her game.


Sanaa Lathan (left) and Omar Epps (right) play 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 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 Nominee / work Award Result
2001 Sanaa Lathan Best Actress Won[16]
Black Reel Awards
Year Nominee / work 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 Nominee / work Award Result
2000 Love & Basketball Sundance Film Category Won[18]
Independent Spirit Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2000 Gina Prince-Bythewood Best First Screenplay Won[19]
Key Art Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2001 D. Stevens Best Drama Poster Won[16]
NAACP Image Award
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2001 Film Outstanding Motion Picture Nominated[20]
Omar Epps Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Nominated[20]
Sanaa Lathan Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Won[21]
Alfre Woodard Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Won[21]
Kyla Pratt Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Nominated[20]


  1. ^ "Love & Basketball – Cast and Crew". AllRovi. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. 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. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. 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. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  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. Archived from the original on April 6, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  19. ^ "Love & Basketball > Awards". AllRovi. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on May 20, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  20. ^ a b c "2000 Image Awards". Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  21. ^ a b "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]