A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Love & Basketball" is about how you can either be in love or play basketball, but it's tricky to do both at the same time. It may be unique among sports movies in that it does not end with the Big Game. Instead, it's a thoughtful and touching story about two affluent black kids, a boy and a girl, who grow up loving each other, and the game.
Monica is a tomboy. Her parents and older sister despair of getting her to act like a girl. She'd rather shoot baskets. In 1981, when she's about 12, her family moves into a new house in Baldwin Hills, a good Los Angeles neighborhood. Next door lives an NBA star and his son, Quincy. The first time the kids meet, they play a pickup game. Monica goes for a score, Quincy pushes her, and she gets a little scar that will be on her right cheek for the rest of her life.
He likes her. "You wanna be my girl?" he asks. She wants to know what that means. "We can play ball and ride to school together and when you get mad I gotta buy you flowers." She doesn't like flowers, she says. But she kisses him (they count to five), and the next day he wants her to ride to school on the handlebars of his bike. She wants to ride her own bike. This will be the pattern of a lifetime.
Flash forward to 1988. Monica, now played by Sanaa Lathan, and Quincy (Omar Epps) are high school stars. They're not dating but they're friends, and when Quincy's parents (Dennis Haysbert and Debbi Morgan) start fighting, he slips out his bedroom window and sleeps on the floor of her room. In a sequence of surprising effectiveness, she takes the advice of her mom and sister to "do something" with her hair and goes to a school dance with a blind date. Quincy is there, too. They dance with their dates but they keep looking at each other. You know how it is.