Put Your Heart in the Game

Love & Basketball is the greatest decade spanning basketball romance movie I’ve ever seen. Not that there are any other movies like it. Love & Basketball had a dedicated cult following that I couldn’t ignore for very long. I mostly watched it thanks to my brother’s growing interest. It ended up being my favorite romantic drama with a predominantly black cast. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood based a lot of the story on her own life experiences. Spike Lee took a chance on her work by producing the movie himself. Love & Basketball was intended to be sort of a black version of When Harry Met Sally… and it shows in the best way.

Much like the always present game of basketball, events are separated into 4 quarters. The first quarter explores childhood. the second quarter explores high school, the third quarter explores college. and the fourth quarter explores adulthood. Monica and Quincy end up as next door neighbors with an adorable love/hate dynamic as they bicker, yet end up sharing their first kiss. The film does a good job of pointing out the differences between men and women who play sports. Quincy has his entire career laid out for him, but Monica has to fight while keeping her emotions in check. When Monica gets a makeover, Quincy starts seeing her as more than a friend and they hook up a lot sooner than I thought.

Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps have natural chemistry thanks to dating in real life. Their relationship gets especially steamy in a strip basketball sequence. Of course their relationship gets complicated when their families and separate aspirations come between them. Quincy isn’t kept in good hands with Dennis Haysbert as his cheating professional basketball playing father ruining their family. Monica has her supportive sister played by Regina Hall, but her greatest obstacle is her unsupportive mother played by Alfre Woodard for the first time. As Monica and Quincy continue to diverge, a final high stakes game of one-on-one just might be enough to bring them together. All’s fair in Love & Basketball.

Love & Basketball

Monica and Quincy play basketball

6 thoughts on “Put Your Heart in the Game

  1. A very unique mix of love story and sports story going on here. I remember this being advertised a lot when I was in school, it got a lot of praise. This would definitely work as a date movie cause it has elements the couple would each enjoy. The Criterion Collection released this on Blu Ray recently, so that proves it’s reached a pinnacle of excellence.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My older sister kept this VHS on her shelf right next to “Adventures in Babysitting” I still have not seen this, but I recognize it as a classic. Particularly the One vs. One. scene.

    I like how it’s divided into 4 parts, like Pro-BBall quarters🏀

    Liked by 1 person

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