Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Here's the Character John Boyega Plays in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Here's the Character John Boyega Plays in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Watch Zendaya, Kadeem Hardison, Tammy Townsend in Trailer for 'K.C. Undercover' Watch Zendaya, Kadeem Hardison, Tammy Townsend in Trailer for 'K.C. Undercover' Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Beyond The Lights, Beyond The Urban Narrative: When Marketing Gets In The Way of Story Beyond The Lights, Beyond The Urban Narrative: When Marketing Gets In The Way of Story 'Selma' Cast Completely Shut Out of SAG Awards. Viola Davis, Cicely Tyson, Uzo Aduba Are In 'Selma' Cast Completely Shut Out of SAG Awards. Viola Davis, Cicely Tyson, Uzo Aduba Are In Short Film '#Blackmendream' Explores Mostly Suppressed Emotional Lives of Black Men (Watch It) Short Film '#Blackmendream' Explores Mostly Suppressed Emotional Lives of Black Men (Watch It) Watch Teaser for 'Being Mary Jane' Season 2 + Details on Story, Guest Stars Watch Teaser for 'Being Mary Jane' Season 2 + Details on Story, Guest Stars Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) 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) Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake 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