‘Love and Basketball’ is a wonderful example of a romantic movie that is actually enjoyable and engaging. It forgoes most of the conventions of the typical romance (over-the-top conflict and constant melodrama) for a realistic examination of how people must balance their dreams with their feelings for one another. In this case, that dream is basketball.
The story is broken into four “quarters” which show a chronology of the relationship between two aspiring basketball players, Quincy (or Q) and Monica from childhood to adulthood. This is a particularly effective way of advancing the plot and adding a depth to the characters that helps the audience understand the long-time bond between the two.
From the time they are 11, both are competitive and hot-headed athletes with dreams of playing professional basketball, but both have different reasons for wanting to do so. Quincy hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father, Zeke, who plays for the San Diego Clippers. Monica wants to assert her independence and avoid a life of domesticity like her mother, preferring to “wear a jersey and not an apron.”
From the time they meet as children on, Quincy and Monica are dawn to one another by their shared passion; however, more often than not their competitive arrogance comes out as aggressive banter. Despite their tempers, the two form an instant bond that, while not immediately developing into romance, creates a deep sense of closeness.
During the “second quarter,” Quincy and Monica are both successful high school athletes. Quincy is the school star, enjoying the adoration and comfort of that comes with being the star player. Monica, however, has a less glamorous time of it. Despite her talent, her on-court temper results in multiple fouls and seats on the bench.
The movie establishes the disparity between their experiences, and suggests that being a successful female athlete is more challenging. Monica certainly seems to feel this way, and it results in a driving determination to succeed that eventually draws her attention away from everything else.
The emotional distance placed between the by their professional aspirations eventually drives them apart. Quincy feels that Monica does not make enough time for him in her life, especially when a family tragedy shakes the foundation of his world. His vulnerability and frustration make him end their relationship, quit school and pursue a career in the NBA.
After five years apart, Monica has become a successful basketball player in the International Women’s Basketball Association, playing for a team in Barcelona, Spain. Quincy spent those years bouncing around pro teams as a substitute, until an injury finally spells the end of an already declining career.
Monica returns stateside to find Quincy engaged to a stewardess (played by Tyra Banks!). Desperate to rekindle their relationship, she challenges Quincy to a high stakes game of one-on-one “for his heart.” This sounds cheesy, but it actually makes perfect sense for them. Their entire relationship was built on their shared love of basketball, so what better way to express it than on the court?
Their love story concludes with Monica in the WNBA and Quincy her happy husband, cheering her on from the sidelines with their child. It’s a touching scene and a great way to end this lifetime-long love story and shows just how far these two have come.
Quincy no longer feels the need to impress or be the top dog; he is just happy being with Monica, who in turn feels confident to pursue her dream with the support of Quincy. It is a great example of how personal ambition can cloud feelings about another person and how finally learning that meeting those goals is best done with the love of your life.
‘Love and Basketball’ is a wonderful go-to for any couple. It covers the athletic careers of the characters deeply enough to engage any sports fan, while also offering a non-cheesy, heartfelt love story.
The cast and soundtrack are quite good, and the story is interesting enough to keep even a non-lover of basketball engaged. It is not the typical love story in the best sense. It has a lot of heart, and it is real enough to make the characters believable.
‘Love and Basketball’ is a raw, emotionally-charged love story that tells a realistic and accessible story. A great cast and strong performances help carry a well-written and well-captured romance between two hot-headed basketball stars. Its chronology through all of the major phases in life helps add depth to the characters and makes their ultimate union that much more satisfying.
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