Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge to Star in Scripted TV Series Based on the Underground Railroad Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge to Star in Scripted TV Series Based on the Underground Railroad Mo'Nique Said She Was Paid $50,000 for 'Precious' + Responds to Lee Daniels "Play the Game" Advice (Video) Mo'Nique Said She Was Paid $50,000 for 'Precious' + Responds to Lee Daniels "Play the Game" Advice (Video) 'Cooley High' Writer and Cast Reflect on the Film 40 Years Later 'Cooley High' Writer and Cast Reflect on the Film 40 Years Later Attn. Actors: African American & Latino Men & Women Sought for Major Roles in Baz Luhrmann's Netflix Drama Series Attn. Actors: African American & Latino Men & Women Sought for Major Roles in Baz Luhrmann's Netflix Drama Series So What’s Byron Allen's $20 Billion Lawsuit Against Comcast, Time Warner, Al Sharpton & the NAACP all About? So What’s Byron Allen's $20 Billion Lawsuit Against Comcast, Time Warner, Al Sharpton & the NAACP all About? A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Check Out These Photos of Mo'Nique, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander & Michael K. WIlliams From HBO's Bessie Smith Bio + Premiere Date Set Check Out These Photos of Mo'Nique, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander & Michael K. WIlliams From HBO's Bessie Smith Bio + Premiere Date Set Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? Here's the Story That the Denzel Washington/Antoine Fuqua 'Magnificent Seven' Remake Will Tell Here's the Story That the Denzel Washington/Antoine Fuqua 'Magnificent Seven' Remake Will Tell Ava DuVernay Won Ava DuVernay Won Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Mike Tyson Went to Algeria to Make the Country's "First Martial Arts Film"... Here's a First Look at the Results Mike Tyson Went to Algeria to Make the Country's "First Martial Arts Film"... Here's a First Look at the Results If You Missed PBS' August Wilson Documentary, 'The Ground on Which I Stand,' Watch It in Full Now! If You Missed PBS' August Wilson Documentary, 'The Ground on Which I Stand,' Watch It in Full Now! Now You Can Watch All 10 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action & Animation) Online Now You Can Watch All 10 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action & Animation) Online Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Apparently, Hosting The Oscars Isn't As Coveted A Gig As I Previously Assumed... Apparently, Hosting The Oscars Isn't As Coveted A Gig As I Previously Assumed... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

'Love & Basketball': More Than A Game

Shadow and Act By Nijla Mumin | Shadow and Act March 28, 2013 at 3:13PM

"I'll play you."
12
'Love & Basketball'
'Love & Basketball'

"I'll play you."

"What?"

"One game. One-on-one."

"For what?"

"Your heart."

Those are the words spoken by lead characters Monica Wright and Quincy McCall in one of the most daring scenes in "Love & Basketball." Stakes are high for the potential romantic reunion between them and this one game will decide their fate. In another film, this set-up might not work, but writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood builds a world so rich with basketball, family and depth that when this scene comes, we exist in it with the characters. Emotions are synonymous with the basketball game the two main characters share in; a convergence of sport and meaning that makes the film memorable and worth repeat viewings.

There are many ways a film like this could've been directed. Stories involving sports and African American people flood the media every day. But this film does something different—it makes basketball intimate and extremely specific to the lives of the characters and their families. Therefore, it isn’t just a game they play in order to get a scholarship to college; it is a game that bonds them, while also pulling them apart.

One of the best illustrations of this is the relationship between Monica (played fiercely by Sanaa Lathan), and Quincy (played by Omar Epps), which rests on their collective love of the game as children and into adulthood. As they get older, basketball starts to take on more sobering meanings, such as Monica's introduction to the lingering sexism in intercollegiate athletics at a time when the WNBA didn't exist. She is chastised for her unapologetic demeanor on the court, while Quincy isn't. Later, Quincy's love of the game is tested when he's betrayed by his father, the sole reason he became a basketball player. Basketball is an ever-changing theme in the story, a device of both unification and division, especially with Monica and her homemaking mother, who views the sport as a boundary between them.

In this way, basketball becomes love, connection and even estrangement. In one sequence, Monica and Quincy slow dance at their prom with different dates, but share a deep, sensual glance across the dance floor. Later, Monica discovers she's been accepted to the same school as Quincy, where she'll play for the women's basketball team. This ignites passion between them in a love scene that is both tender and beautiful for its subtlety and respect of a first-time experience. Then, basketball becomes the catalyst for their breakup, highlighting Monica's undying commitment to it and Quincy's growing distrust of it.

When we reach the climax of their one-on-one game, we buy it precisely because basketball was never just a game in this film. It was always a specific association, a feeling, and an undying passion. Bythewood, who won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay in 2000, makes sure that the film lives up to its name. “Love & Basketball,” indeed.

Which other African American sports films successfully personify the game, making the sport a character in itself?

XFINITY On Demand™ is currently celebrating March Madness by featuring sports films such as "Love & Basketball" and “Undefeated.” Learn more, and join the celebration of Black entertainment at xfinity.com/celebrateblacktv.

Editor’s Note: Shadow and Act partnered with XFINITY to celebrate Black entertainment. Be sure to visit xfinity.com/celebrateblacktv, a unique digital community built around the love of Black TV, film, sports, music and more. Shadow and Act hopes to enrich this community and provide a launching pad for insightful discussion. Look to Shadow and Act for features and content examining and exploring key themes and topics that run throughout the history of Black entertainment.

This article is related to: Xfinity Celebrate Black TV, Love & Basketball, Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Gina Prince-Bythewood


Shadow & ActNewsletter