OPINION: Sure, Quincy had personal battles he had to fight where he needed support, but, like, Monica totally did, too.
I didn’t realize so many people didn’t like Love & Basketball, the 2000 film starring Sanaa Lathan as Monica Wright and Omar Epps as Quincy McCall, two kids next door turned lovers who had to find their way back to one another after some struggles and hardships in life. Also, they played a lot of basketball. Sometimes, even for each other’s hearts.
Cue dramatic yet slightly ridiculous airhorn. Yeah, I cringed at the “I’ll play you…for your heart” line, too. But it really did set the drama to high levels, and it totes set the perfect mood for Meshell Ndegeocello’s banger “Fool of Me” from her 1999 album, Bitter.
Back to folks not liking it. I kind of always assumed that most folks loved the movie, much like I do, because it’s a rom-com/drama, where ultimately, love wins out in the end. Monica and Quincy do end up together, and basketball is still part of their lives; Monica, by the film’s conclusion, is part of the newly formed WNBA, even playing for the Los Angeles Sparks, their hometown team. All’s well that ends well, right? Wrong. I’ve had so many conversations over time where folks were hella tight about the fact that Quincy was such a d-bag and that Monica chased him for years. Sure it “worked out” in the end, but after he played her publicly, bailed on her and got a whole fiancée on Delta, I can understand why a lot of women were annoyed that Quincy was where she wanted to be.
Especially since the demise of their relationship was basically because Quincy was having a personal crisis that rendered him entirely selfish about his needs. You know what I’m talking about.
Quincy’s mother, Nona (Debbi Morgan), discovers that his father, Zeke (Dennis Haysbert), has been cheating. Now, Zeke recently told Quincy that he wasn’t cheating and didn’t cheat on his mother. Well, as it turns out, he lied, and that truly impacted Quincy in a negative way. He can’t fathom that his father, this man he looked up to, could lie to him so easily and questions what else he could be lying about. Oh, Quincy is a star freshman on USC’s highly touted, nationally ranked college basketball team. He was highly recruited out of high school. Quincy…is the man on campus.
Monica wasn’t highly recruited out of high school on account of her temper and seemingly foul-prone playing. She does, however, end up at USC and wins the starting point guard spot after some gutsy plays and supporting her teammates.
Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan in “Love & Basketball” (New Line)
This is only important because Quincy, the superstar that he is, can pretty much do what he wants. Monica cannot.
So the night when Quincy finds out his dad cheated, and he and Monica are sitting on the bleachers talking, and she realizes she has to get to her dorm by curfew or she won’t suit up, it is with this work ethic and desire that she says to Quincy that she has to go because she has a curfew. Quincy is visibly upset, later telling her that (after he ignored her and dismissed the good news that Monica won the starting point guard spot) she forgot to be there and that her priorities were out of wack. To him, he needed her to just be present with him, no matter what, even if that, selfishly, meant breaking team rules. Monica, rightfully, assumes that because they both love basketball so much that he, of all people, would understand why she has to follow the rules. Quincy doesn’t, though.
For the record, I know many, many people who believe that Monica should have stayed there with him as long as he needed, team, be damned. Her first obligation (to these wayward folks) was to her relationship, and I think that’s patently absurd. Especially since they could have walked to her dorm, possibly went in there (he remarked he didn’t want to do that because he didn’t want to see people), or she could have called him and sat on the phone with him for hours. But noooooooo, Quincy needed her to be right there right then for him no matter what.
And you see how that turned out; Quincy throwing even more of a fit, ignores his girl, takes another girl on a date to Burger King, enters the draft, loses touch with Monica (who always had his back) and bounces around the league until he tears his ACL during garbage time during a stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Ya know, I can see why folks don’t love what happened in the movie on the part of Monica. She’s smart, successful, bad, and she can whip most dudes in a game of 21. And yet she’s pining for a whiny, entitled middling NBA player who acts impulsively and “takes hoes to Burger King.” His words, not mine.
Quincy was mad disrespectful, and ultimately wrong. Asking Monica to forfeit the thing she had to fight for, running up a hill in roller skates, is unfair and unreasonable. Especially since she was as supportive a girlfriend as he could have. The one real love he had, he was willing to throw away because he was going through something. Quincy, you a wild boy.
I do hope he got a good-paying job by the end, though; the WNBA doesn’t pay much neeeeow; I can’t imagine how little they made in 1998.
But Q, you wrong, b. Dead wrong.
Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).
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