Love & Basketball

USA 2000

Reviewed by Stephanie Zacharack


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Suburban southern California, 1981. Eleven-year-old Monica, a newcomer in a middle-class neighbourhood, elbows her way into a basketball game with a group of local boys. She proves she's just as good a player as they are, and young Quincy, whose father is a professional basketball player, is impressed. The two become friends, although this friendship is strained when they become teenagers. At the end of their senior year in high school, after both of them have been granted basketball scholarships at the University of Southern California, they start dating.

While at USC, Quincy discovers his father has been seeing other women behind his mother's back. He breaks up with Monica, feeling that she's too wrapped up in basketball to give him the attention he needs. He then decides to drop out of college to become a professional basketball player.

Later, in 1993, Monica is a star player with the International Women's Basketball Association in Barcelona. Back in the US, Quincy seriously injures himself during a game; Monica returns home and visits him in hospital where she learns that he's engaged to another woman. Having given up basketball to work in a bank, Monica musters the courage to tell Quincy that she still loves him. He realises that playing ball isn't everything, and that he wants Monica back. The two marry and Monica returns to pro basketball.


There's nothing particularly daring about the way writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood has put together her debut feature Love & Basketball. But it's a fine example of a conventionally made picture which follows all the rules yet still emerges as fresh and original. This may sound a little strange in the light of the film's final reel, which sees a talented and intelligent black woman get the career she's always wanted - playing professional basketball - only to discover that what she's been missing all along is a man. Sure enough, Prince-Bythewood might have finessed the last act of her film a little more gracefully - it's hard, for instance, to fathom precisely what Sanaa Lathan's Monica finds so unforgettable about Omar Epps' Quincy, a stud with a decent heart but not much depth - but Love & Basketball moves along smoothly and features enough careful details to keep it deeply satisfying.

The basketball sequences are beautifully shot and edited: there's a lively sense of momentum to them, but there's also a layered, thoughtful dimension to Prince-Bythewood's mise en scène. In one sequence she cuts between a men's game at USC and a women's, subtly underscoring the difference between the facilities (the women's gym is a bare-bones affair) and the density and energy levels of the crowds. The film features an adroit use of pop music, too; in an early scene we see the young Monica shoot hoops to the sound of New Edition's exhilarating 'Candy Girl,' a track which captures her effervescence perfectly.

Sanaa Lathan's performance as the adult Monica has a no-nonsense poise about it, both on the court and off; even Monica's moments of self-consciousness have a certain gangly beauty. In the scene where she's awkwardly dressed up for a school dance, she finds herself starting to relax - and automatically slouches forward in her chair, her elbows resting on her knees as if she were taking a break on the bench.

In its own unassuming way, Prince-Bythewood's film tackles a number of issues that other film-makers - particularly African-American ones - don't care to touch. For one thing, it's not set in the inner city but among America's black middle class, a sector with its own problems and prejudices. Perhaps most significantly, it plainly acknowledges sexism among black men without either defending or crucifying them - Quincy looks set to lead the same philandering life as his father and he refuses to acknowledge that Monica's ball-playing career is as important as his. Prince-Bythewood would seem to have no use for clichés, yet she ruefully admits that sometimes stereotypes have a grounding in certain social realities. But the film finishes with a wry acknowledgement that no one has to remain a stereotype forever. Incomprehensible as it is that Monica would rush back to the US from Barcelona to pursue a guy like Quincy. In the last shot we see of him, he's on the sidelines at one of Monica's games, holding their little girl.


Gina Prince-Bythewood
Spike Lee
Sam Kitt
Gina Prince-Bythewood
Director of Photography
Reynaldo Villalobos
Terilyn Shropshire
Production Designer
Jeff Howard
Music/Music Conductor/ Orchestrations
Terence Blanchard
©New Line Productions, Inc.
Production Companies
New Line Cinema presents a 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks production
Executive Producers
Andrew Z. Davis
Jay Stern
Cynthia Guidry
Executive in Charge of Production
Carla Fry
Production Executive
Michele McGuire
Production Controller
Paul Prokop
Supervising Production Co-ordinator
Emily Glatter
Production Co-ordinators
Brett A. Boydstun
Spain Unit:
Maxine Parker
Unit Production Manager
Spain Unit:
Ricardo Ceballos
Location Managers
Wayne Middleton
Spain Unit:
Mar Francoli
Executive in Charge of:
Jody Levin
Ric 'Mastabaka' Keeley
Assistant Directors
Mark Anthony Little
Eric Oliver
Spain Unit:
Cristobal Martin
Script Supervisor
Martin Kitrosser
Aisha Coley
Hi-8 Footage
Reggie Rock Bythewood
Camera Operators
Joseph D. Urbanczyk
Joe Chess
Steadicam Operator
Joe Chess
Art Director
Susan K. Chan
Set Designer
Ron Wilkinson
Set Decorator
Dena Roth
Lead Scenic Artist
Craig Anthony Muzio
Costume Designer
Ruth Carter
Costume Supervisor
Helen R. Monaghan
Key Artist:
Anita Gibson
Additional Artist:
Carmé Tenuta
Spain Unit, Artist:
Gisella Tutusaus
Key Hairstylists
Joann Stafford-Chaney
Sterfon Demings
Brian Andrew Tunstall
Andrea Jackson
Main/End Titles Design
Custom Film Effects
Custom Film Effects
Music Supervisor
Melodee Sutton
Music Executive
Dana Sano
Session Co-ordinator
Robin Burgess
Music Editors
Lori Slomka
Michael Dittrick
Don Murray
"Love and Happiness" - Al Green; "Candy Girl" - New Edition; "After the Dance", "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" - Marvin Gaye; "Sweet Thing" - Rufus featuring Chaka Khan; "Lyte as a Rock" - M.C. Lyte; "I Go to Work" - Kool Moe Dee; "Prince", "Love Is Basketball" - Tony Dimito; "Rock Me Tonight for Old Times Sake" - Freddie Jackson; "Making Love in the Rain" - Herb Alpert featuring Lisa Keith; "Just Got Paid" - Johnny Kemp; "My Prerogative" - Bobby Brown; "I Want to Be Your Man" - Roger; "This Woman's Work" - Maxwell; "I Like" - Guy; "Our Destiny" - Hinda Hicks; "It Takes Two" - Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock; "Doowutchyalike" - Digital Underground; "Morning Star" - Melky Sedeck; "Holding Back the Years" - Angie Stone; "Fool of Me" - Me'Shell Nedegeocello; "I'll Go" - Donnell Jones; "Dance Tonight" - Lucy Pearl
Sound Supervisor
Frederick 'Mastavisa' Howard
Sound Mixers
Willie Burton
Spain Unit:
Pepe Caceres
Re-recording Mixers
Marc 'M3' Fishman
Derek 'DMD' Marcil
Digital Transfer Engineers
Matt Dubin
Johanna Kraemer
Dialogue Editors
David Grant
Kevin Hamilton
Robert Getty
Michael Hertlein
Sound Effects Editors
Benjamin Cook
Michael Kamper
Lisle Engle
Mark Hunshik Choi
Susan 'Sound Sista' Shin
Alan Freedman
S. Diane Marshall
David Lee Fein
Lucy Sustar
David Jobe
Craig Jurkiewicz
Sarah Smith
Background Editor:
Michael Mullane
Basketball Advisers
Dick Baker
Colleen Matsuhara
Steve Spencer
Stunt Co-ordinator
Manny Perry
Omar Epps
Quincy McCall
Sanaa Lathan
Monica Wright
Alfre Woodard
Camille Wright
Dennis Haysbert
Zeke McCall
Debbi Morgan
Nona McCall
Harry J. Lennix
Nathan Wright
Kyla Pratt
young Monica
Glenndon Chatman
young Quincy
Christine Dunford
Coach Davis
Erika Ringor
Sidra O'Neal
Regina Hall
Lena Wright
Jess Willard
Chris Warren Jr
Naykia Harris
young Lena
Colleen Matsuhara
UCLA coach
Al Foster
Coach Hiserman
Nathaniel Bellamy
high school referee 1
Shar Jackson
Gabrielle Union
James Dumont
April Griffin
Dorsey High School player
Boris Kodjoe
Kara Brock
college girl 1
Aichi Ali
college girl 2
Charles O'Bannon
Robin Roberts
Dick Vitale
Jimmy Lennon Jr
sports announcer
Terry Cummings
Andre Bellinger
college referee
Monica Calhoun
Dion Basco
college student
Marta Bou Morera
Marta Crespo
Raquel Hurtado
Spanish girls
Jordi Clemente
security guard
Jesse Corti
Coach Parra
Leticia Oseguera
Spanish band
Mar Castro
lead singer
Yussi Wenger
Django C. Porter
Alberto de Almar
Paris H. Rooks
Julio Ledezma
Chick Hearn
Stu Lantz
Trevor Wilson
Rebecca Patterson
Tyra Banks
Kyra Kessler
Steve Spencer
Lakers trainer
Lisa Barkin Oxley
bank officer
Madison Duvernay
Lena's baby
Nairobi Dickens
Monica & Quincy's baby
Sandra von Embriqs
Yolanda Higgins
assistant coaches
USC women players
Wendi Levy
Sandra Perez
Carla Houser
Marigold Clark
Big Toni
Marte Alexander
Sabrina Roberson
Audrey Gomez
Erica Jackson
Valerie Agee
Afton Thompson
Chevana Player
Lorna Monique Clemmons
Carenda Saunder
Chandra Cole
Shawnte Watson
Krystal Braden
Lakesha Willingham
Jenece Johnson
Erika Wilson
Sharon Vigne
Crenshaw High School girl's basketball team
Major Dennis
assistant coach
Gina Prince-Bythewood
diving basketball player
Entertainment Film Distributors Ltd
11,211 feet
124 minutes 34 seconds
Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS
Colour by
Prints by
End credits title
Love and Basketball
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011