Happy Valentine’s Day! There were a couple of rom-com movies I wanted to review for this website. It was between Love & Basketball and last year’s Past Lives. I figured I’d watch the former since it is Valentine’s Day and Black History Month. I will review the latter around Asian Heritage Month in May. For right now, let’s talk about Love & Basketball.

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Quincy McCall (Omar Epps) and Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) grew up together through their love of basketball. They bond over their shared love of the game and themselves. As time progresses, their careers intertwine with their relationship and hardships with their respective families. They find their love for each other is the greatest game they’ve ever played. 

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This is a romance movie studying how relationships can be challenging while trying to balance basketball life. It is about Monica trying not to let gender barriers get in the way of achieving her dream. It is also about Quincy’s longing for fame and glory considering he’s the popular guy women want to date. All of these distract him from getting a proper education which his father and former Los Angeles Clippers player Zeke (Dennis Haysbert) stresses throughout the film. 

The film also adds to the fact that the basketball lifestyle is not all fun and games. Monica’s journey is stressful enough because she has to learn how to control her temper while playing with her fellow teammates, and to get better at the game which she does. On the other hand, Quincy has to deal with his father cheating on his mom with a fan which puts more stress on him. Even when he does play in the NBA with the Lakers, he ends up tearing his ACL which puts him out of commission for the entirety. Monica also ends up putting off basketball for the time being as well. I also liked how the story is structured by quarters like a regular basketball game, and it’s genius. 

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What carried the movie was Monica and Quincy’s on and sometimes off relationship. Lathan’s Wright was pretty interesting because her character mimics the strong male stereotype of not showing weakness or femininity. She does calm down her testosterone levels a bit because she has to attend social events and whenever she spends intimate time with Quincy which is an added level of comfort for her. Epps’ McCall is complex. He in an ironic way mimics his dad unknowingly. He hangs out with other women besides Monica which is similar to Zeke hinted at in his personal life in the NBA. He struggles to get Monica to support him at his games, but Monica has her own athletic and academic commitments forcing them to break up during college. But it all comes together when the two play a midnight one-on-one pickup game and finally confess their love for each other. 

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Distributed by New Line Cinema

Love & Basketball is a culturally significant romance sports movie that showcases black love and athleticism in the forefront. It’s also heartwarming to see them finally get past their issues to become a real couple. It is also satisfying when we see both of them achieve their goals later on in their lives. That alone feels like a victory for them, and for the viewers watching as well. I’m unsure if there will be another movie that will be as great as this was. Who knows? Anyway, I would recommend this movie for any sports fan, athletes who are in a relationship, or regular couples to have fun and snuggle up. 

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By Julian