REVIEW | “Must I say it again, I said it before move out the way when I’m coming through the door.”
That’s how 2000’s Love & Basketball introduced us to the more mature version of hooper, Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan). With the dope upbeat track playing, Lyte as a Rock, by a female rapper, MC Lyte, Monica Wright graced the screen with her b-ball uniform, cornrows, and cheek scar to accent her beautiful tomboy look. It just puts you in the mind frame immediately thinking, “oh this badass chick got game!” I was smitten from the jump, jump ball that is. This was the first time in my life I had looked at a female hooper and thought, “she could get it”. Ever since I’ve been in love with chicks who I thought looked good and could hoop.
Okay, back to the movie…. instant classic! Director/writer Gina Prince-Bythewood, in her directorial debut, took us through 4 quarters of love and basketball, literally. If you weren’t a fan of basketball before this movie, I guarantee you were definitely practicing jump shots contemplating playing someone one-on-one for their heart after.
Oh my God! Confession: the movie reconnected me with my ex at the time. And she didn’t even hoop. But seeing the movie together, worked it’s magic on us. I’m just saying.
Okay, back to the movie for real this time. As a little girl, Monica fell in love with her next-door neighbor, Quincy “Q” McCall (Omar Epps), who was basically the male version of her. They were both super talented on the court and super passionate about the game. Side note, Omar Epps is by far the worst Hooper to play on-screen I’ve ever seen, but he killed the role and Gina made him look as good as she possibly could. Great job Gina!
So Monica, who, in her head, is destined to be the first girl in the NBA, and Q, the prodigy son of an NBA player, fall for each other as 10-year-olds and basketball is their common interest. But, we all know puppy love rarely makes it out of the kennel. 1st quarter over. But the 2nd quarter is when things heat up. After not receiving any college recruiting letters, Monica comes home after a school dance, (I’m glad Gina didn’t use the traditional senior prom), kisses her date “Spaulding” a good night, begins to take off her “Nike” dress and BAM! To her surprise, she sees her first and only recruitment letter from the USC (University of Southern California). Oh, she’s ecstatic! And so are we! She hops through her bedroom window, to go and knock on Q’s. She nervously asks him to open the letter, he does, and that’s when it is revealed to us that USC wants her! Q then lets us know that that’s where he’s going as well. OH, it’s a great moment! But it gets even better, as Monica invites Q to her room across the grass to lose her virginity to him. While the classic melodies of Maxwell’s A Woman’s Work play in the background. (Guaranteed you sang the lyrics, lol) Shout out to another great movie soundtrack filled with 80’s and 90’s oldies but goodies and a few new joints thrown in the mix.
Love and Basketball is a classic case of, if you love something enough to let it go and if it returns, then you know it’s there to stay. In the 3rd quarter of the movie, after living in bliss with Q, beating him in dorm room basketball games because he wanted her to win, and climbing the ranks as a top college player, Monica’s world tumbles when Q breaks up with her. Damn. She should’ve just boned Dick Vitel. Forced to let Q find his way, Monica also loses her love for the game. And in the 4th quarter, she confesses to Q, who’s now engaged to be married, that she lost her love for basketball when she lost him.
In a classic duel between the two, Monica challenges Q to play for his heart. She wanted him to break up with his fiancé Kyra (Tyra Banks) who came with mad flight benefits. The nerve. But, being the sucka that we men are, he did it. But he shocked us all. He beat the brakes off of her! He dunked on her and everything! Was no letting her win like before. We felt bad for the girl! I might’ve even cried, with her. And then the song he beat her to – You Made a Fool of Me – didn’t make it any better. But it did make for a good soundtrack for an ass whoopin’. I was like, man, this guy is cold. I’m talking pimp cold. And that’s when it happens. The famous line, “Double or nothing”. Q wasn’t the ruthless guy we thought he was, after all, he wanted to play her again just so she could win. Awww… I think I did cry on that part.
Moral of this story, if you are feeling all is lost, pop in Love and Basketball and let it inspire you. We know it’s not a 90’s movie but it feels like one.
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