Review: Love and Basketball

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Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps
Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps


The sports movie meets the romance in a boy-meets-girl drama featuring two affluent black kids. Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan play the basketball-playing next-door neighbours as grown-ups, the film having followed them from before puberty, through it and out into the world of professional sport and beyond.

On the romance side it’s a “will-they-won’t-they” plot, in the sports arena it’s unusually focused on the daily decision-making and strategising of operating as a sports professional, where a career could be measured in months. On both sides it packs in most of the positive role models a body could need, carefully avoiding stereotyping (except that he’s hung), because that’s a bad thing. This film works hard to seduce its audience – music, shouting, foreplay, lovely interior design and countless baskets, not to mention the performances, by the stars and support (special mention to Alfre Woodard as Lathan’s mother). But though it’s refreshing to see the girl as the pursuer, and a totally ripped Epps as the eye candy, the film struggles to generate drama, particularly as its focus moves from her to him in the second half.

© Steve Morrissey 2001


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Love & Basketball (2000) Drama, Romance, Sport | 124min | 21 April 2000 (USA) 7.2
Director: Gina Prince-BythewoodWriter: Gina Prince-BythewoodStars: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Glenndon ChatmanSummary: In 1981 in L.A., Monica moves in next door to Quincy. They're 11, and both want to play in the NBA, just like Quincy's dad. Their love-hate relationship lasts into high school, with Monica's edge and Quincy's top-dog attitude separating them, except when Quincy's parents argue and he climbs through Monica's window to sleep on the floor. As high school ends, they come together as a couple, but within a year, with both of them playing ball at USC, Quincy's relationship with his father takes an ugly turn, and it leads to a break up with Monica. Some years later, their pro careers at a crossroads, they meet again. It's time for a final game of one-on-one with high stakes. Written by <>


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