'Love & Basketball': An oral history of the film that changed the game

Twenty years after "Love & Basketball" hit theaters, the cast and crew share behind-the-scenes stories of how the New Line Cinema production went from dream to reality. And its writer-director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, speaks on what initially inspired her to "make a movie about a black girl who wants to be the first [woman] in the NBA."

Prince-Bythewood, a former UCLA track runner who played basketball in high school, was working as a TV writer in the mid-1990s. But she longed to tell a semi-autobiographical story about a female baller. She quit her job, wrote the script and began shopping it around.

"Every day, my agent would say, 'Another one turned it down,'" Prince-Bythewood remembers. "Studios gave feedback that the film was 'too soft,' that we needed [scenes] where a character is chasing her husband with a knife."

Her script somehow reached the heads of the Sundance Institute. She was invited to the directors lab, where she cast multiple readings. One in particular blew away Sam Kitt, then the head of Spike Lee's production company -- 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks -- and subsequently wound up in the hands of New Line Cinema. (Lee signed on to Prince-Bythewood's project as a producer. He worked with New Line Cinema on "Bamboozled," also released in 2000.)

With New Line Cinema, Prince-Bythewood was able to explore the lives of her protagonists, Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy McCall (Omar Epps), on her terms. The movie follows the childhood neighbors as they move from competitors on the court to confidants and companions off of it. Some scenes stick with us, like when Monica and Quincy share their first kiss before a bike ride to school, and, of course, when Monica plays Quincy in a game of one-on-one for his heart two weeks before he's due to wed another woman.

But what makes the film so indelible is that it shows a female athlete challenging her partner, her sport and the status quo without being painted as a shrew, undesirable or any other limiting descriptor.

"What's revolutionary is that this amazing black woman can love both [basketball and her partner] equally and still be a woman," says "Queen & Slim" screenwriter Lena Waithe. "She could still be herself."

Monica goes on to play in the burgeoning WNBA, which was founded in 1996 and didn't exist when Prince-Bythewood started writing the script. Quincy has an injury-marred stint as a Laker. Nevertheless, they prove to be more than leads in an early-aughts hoops flick or relatable characters in a coming-of-age love story. They've become archetypes, inspirations and representatives of lives we knew but had rarely seen onscreen.

To mark the 20th anniversary of "Love & Basketball" on Tuesday, ESPN spoke not only to the creatives behind the film and cast who brought Prince-Bythewood's script to life but also to WNBA players who thought that if Monica Wright could make it to the league, they could too.

Everyone quoted is identified by the title they held during the film's production, unless otherwise noted.

CASTING


According to Prince-Bythewood, an Olympic sprinter (pre-scandal) and the greatest female tennis player of all time were among the more than 700 athletes and actors considered for the role of Monica.

Gina Prince-Bythewood: Anytime you see women playing ball on TV or in movies, it was so wack that it set women in sports back years. I promised myself I would never do that: If I was going to make a basketball movie, I'd do it right. We laugh about it today, but Sanaa had just done this shoot for Vibe [in 1998] and it was a bikini shoot. In my head I was like, "This is so not Monica." Sanaa was pretty good, but she'd never picked up a basketball in her life.

Sanaa Lathan, who plays Monica Wright: I had come from doing theater in New York and while in school. [Lathan got her MFA from the Yale School of Drama.] I was used to working on plays written by great authors, and that comes few and far between in Hollywood. This script immediately took me on a journey. I was rooting for these two characters. To have an emotional response like that when you're just sitting down with a script is special. I knew I wanted to play this woman.

Prince-Bythewood: We'd get close, the acting was on point, and then we'd go out on the court and they can't ball. How many people really grow up playing ball? How many women? Especially back then. It took many people off the list. We wanted to go outside the box too. Marion Jones read. This was before -- what happened with her devastated me. She was a hero. Serena Williams [was floated], but she either read and I wasn't there or she wasn't able to read.

Lathan: They really wanted a basketball player who could act as opposed to getting an actress who could learn basketball. I had never really picked up a basketball. I can laugh now, but I was going through it. Gina was a basketball player. She was like, "How is this girl going to look like a basketball player?"

Prince-Bythewood: There was one other woman, Niesha Butler, and she was a top recruit out of high school, [played at] Georgia Tech. She was a model, she acted, had good chemistry with Omar and could ball her ass off. It came down to those two. We put Sanaa with a basketball coach and Niesha with an acting coach. They were on these parallel tracks for months.

Colleen Matsuhara, basketball adviser and assistant coach of the Los Angeles Sparks (1998-99): Gina made Sanaa carry a basketball everywhere she went. I would work her out -- she could get cut up pretty well, muscle tone and everything -- and then we'd go to eat and she'd carry the basketball into Coco's [an eatery in Los Angeles].

Jay Stern, executive producer: There was some back and forth. I pushed hard on Sanaa, I think Gina was for Sanaa, Spike [wanted Butler] in there, so thank god we prevailed with Sanaa because she was fantastic. The New Line position was: The love story has to work first and foremost with the basketball good enough. Sanaa worked her ass off.

Omar Epps, who plays Quincy McCall: I didn't play organized basketball growing up. But I played Pop Warner football. I was into martial arts and boxing. I was familiar with that mentality. So the basketball training was super intense. Gina was really hard on both of us about being on point when it came to hooping. We both put 100 percent into that.

Matsuhara: Sanaa was not afraid of hard work. I used to take her looking for potential diamonds in the rough [playing pickup] at open gyms, watching the body language of ballers, how they sort of just slump their shoulders, walking with their ball under their arm.

Lathan: I worked and worked and worked. They got me a trainer, and I was in practice day in and day out even before I got the role.

Prince-Bythewood: I couldn't make a decision. I get a call from Sanaa's dad, my mentor, [Peabody and Tony award-winning producer] Stan Lathan, and he says I was damaging his daughter by putting her through this. Sanaa was training every day for three months with no promise of a part, and same with Niesha and the acting coach. Finally, my husband, Reggie, said, "Are you making a love story or a basketball movie?" I realized it's a love story set in the world of basketball. You could fake a jump shot, but you can't fake a close-up. I had to go with the actor.

Niesha Butler, runner-up for the role of Monica: Gina is such a great director, can't speak highly enough about her. I love the film, no matter what. But Gina's an athlete. She wanted somebody who could play basketball. Sanaa is a great actor, she did a great job in the film. I'm just happy that there's a movie, a good movie at that, that represents a basketball female athlete. Period.

Prince-Bythewood: I called Sanaa to tell her she got the part and she said I sounded disappointed, like I had to give her the part. I said, "I need you to come to the office, we're gonna sit and talk." She said no. And I was so mad! I was like, "I'm giving you this part, this is my baby, and you can't find the time to come talk to me?" But she put so much into it and she was exhausted and it wasn't a celebratory moment for her. That's kind of our relationship. It wasn't contentious. We can joke and laugh about it now.

Alfre Woodard, who plays Camille Wright, Monica's mother: This was one of the smartest, tightest scripts I'd ever read. Once I talked to her on the phone, I said, "I will do whatever you say. Not only am I going to join this project, but you can direct me."

Prince-Bythewood: My Alfre meeting was funny because it's Alfre Woodard, first of all. She said that if I agreed to play Monica, she would play my mother. I had never acted before. But she said, "Obviously this movie is based on your life. This is you." I said, "Look, I really want you to do this movie, and we're gonna find someone great to play the lead." She came aboard.

Kyla Pratt, who plays a young Monica Wright: I was about 11 or 12 and I got to play a tomboy. Growing up, I was the tomboy. I was the girl who was playing basketball, or wrestling, or fighting with my brothers, stuff like that. So for me this role was like, "Oh, I get to be myself."

Dennis Haysbert, who plays Zeke McCall, Quincy's father: If I remember correctly, I had to do a little basketball training. I'd played, but I wasn't a professional. I wasn't in a league or anything like that. I would just play street ball with my brothers. We did a lot of dribbling techniques, shooting techniques, and running up and down the court [training for the film]. I had to do that a few times. Gina wanted everybody to look like they could shoot. She made sure we all looked the part.

Harry J. Lennix, who plays Nathan Wright, Monica's father: I met Gina through Reggie. I did a movie called "Get on the Bus," about the Million Man March [written by Reggie "Rock" Bythewood, then Gina's soon-to-be husband]. She asked me and I was only too happy to do it, especially because I got a chance to work with my good friend Alfre Woodard again.

Woodard: When Gina told me about her mom and their relationship, I really wanted to honor her mom's point of view because she may not even have known her mother's point of view.

Prince-Bythewood: Doing this film helped change my feelings about my mom's lack of involvement in my basketball career. My dad was my biggest cheerleader. My mom would come to games occasionally, but she would be reading a book. In the original draft, I was much harder on the mother character. In doing this, I started to realize how much my mom did for me; her support was just different. It helped heal our relationship.

FROM SCRIPT TO SHOOT


The mood on set for the actors and extras was highly competitive. From daily shootarounds to gambling on sprints to scenes that earned bruises, "Love & Basketball" certainly didn't lack authenticity.

Sandra Perez-Thomas, who plays Sandra, Monica's USC teammate: Hair and makeup hated us. Wardrobe hated us. Any chance we got, it was, "Let's play 3-on-3." At one point we were on a track and just started sprinting against each other. We were like kids -- and athletes just wanting to play ball. When we would race, I think Sanaa was there a couple of times, everybody was betting on their player. We were literally gambling. "I got five bucks on her."

Prince-Bythewood: All of the basketball [in the film] was just them playing. We only choreographed a couple of things for Sanaa. The rest was just getting to run and shoot. Erika [Ringor], who played Sidra [Monica's USC teammate whose spot she took on the team], and I had the most competition. She thought she had a better shot than me -- and she doesn't.

Perez-Thomas: Gina has this sweet 10-footer. It was money every time, so we called her G Money. I don't know if she's going to kill me for that.

Prince-Bythewood: We'd go back and forth on the lot. And Sanaa looked great in the movie and she could do things really well, like dribbling [two] basketballs at the same time.

Lathan: That two-ball scene that I'm in -- one of my bones to pick with Gina is that she put it in a silhouette. And because of that people don't think it's really me. But it was really me. I practiced hours and hours to get that two-ball trick. It was really cool to watch.

Matsuhara: There was one scene, a montage where Monica is diving on the floor for a loose ball. Gina's the opponent diving for this ball. We kept having to reshoot this diving. They would grease the floor down, and I told Gina we've got to get the scene or Sanaa's going to get hurt.

Prince-Bythewood: That took 15 takes. I couldn't turn off my brain and not get the ball. I wanted it to look real, but also, I just kept fighting, and the whole point was that Monica was supposed to get it. If you really look at the very end, you can see me start to smile because Sanaa had finally gotten it away from me, legit.

Pratt: And the scene where you see Glenndon [Chatman, young Quincy] and me rolling down a hill, you can see him getting away and then me coming back after him. ... That wasn't written. It was all real.

Haysbert: Everything was authentic, and it showed. Even the scene where my character's wife [Nona McCall, played by Debbi Morgan] throws [jewelry] at him? I didn't fake that pain. She clocked me.

Another thing that had gotten away from Gina was the fact thatSanaa and Omar had been datingthroughout the casting and pre-production process. It was a secret until they were on set.

Prince-Bythewood: When Sanaa did a chemistry read with Omar [before casting], she was great and their chemistry was off the hook. Didn't know they were dating, though. I'm glad I didn't because it would've affected the casting.

Epps: Having that type of chemistry is ... you can't buy that. But at the same time, we were still kids. We were just having fun. We ended up in that circumstance, and we went for it. The rest is history.

Matsuhara: I didn't realize until much later that they were dating. Omar would come to her workouts. I thought that it was so nice to have the co-star come and be supportive. What a dummy I was! I was just so focused on trying to have Sanaa look like a baller.

Lathan: Omar and I were like, "We're not going to tell Gina because I have the feeling she could have a beef about it." She didn't know until we were on set. Everybody has a different philosophy about chemistry, and I also knew that's bulls---. People are like, "If they're together, that means they won't have a chemistry." You either have chemistry with somebody or you don't. It has nothing to do with if you're dating or not. I instinctively knew, "This is not something that needs to get in the way."

Epps: The dichotomies that Gina built are timeless. Quincy's father was successful. The mom was still in the home. They had a family. Then you had Monica and having that dichotomy between a black woman and her daughter, and a black father and his son. I think that's the aspirational part of the film. Everyone is still striving, but you're having young black kids who have dreams and aspirations, growing up together, pushing each other.

Lena Waithe, famed writer and director (formerly Prince-Bythewood's assistant): People may assume that you come from a poor background ... but a lot of black people are working-class, middle- and [upper-]class people. That's really what this felt like. Omar Epps' character had more money with his dad playing in the NBA. But it was really about this kind of neighborhood: what it felt like to be young and black there, have a dream and fall in love, to not get along with your parents sometimes and still respect them.

Lennix: Most of the content that was popular, things like "A Raisin in the Sun" [a play by Lorraine Hansberry that portrays an impoverished African American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s] or "Nothing But a Man" [1964 film about an African American rail worker], showed black people in a certain economic condition. I came from an underprivileged, single-parent household. And I didn't know a lot of people who were drug-addicted. I didn't grow up around that. I went to Northwestern, so I met kids with money who were in groups like Jack and Jill [a social club typically associated with black middle- and upper-middle-class children]. With this film, I was just grateful to breathe the fresh, normal air of a society that wasn't traumatized in that way.

Woodard: None of us knew crackheads growing up. None of us knew streetwalkers. The majority of us didn't experience that. We came from generations of strivers. Even if you were in the working class or the lower working class economically, it was a very rich lifestyle in terms of quality of life and community.

Michael De Luca, former president of production for New Line Cinema: This was Monica and Quincy's love story for each other and of the game. New Line had produced "Love Jones," which definitely was a love story, it wasn't about societal traumas. Love is a universal language, and we trusted Gina to tell this story.

Prince-Bythewood: The only note from the studio was that [in the scene where Monica loses her virginity], she wasn't enjoying it enough. At first I balked but ended up [shooting additional footage]. I edited it, was happy with it, put the movie into the Motion Picture Association of America ... and came back with an R rating because of that scene. I said, "There's no nudity at all. How can you give this an R?" They said because it's too real. I said, "That should be a compliment, not given an R, because now girls can't see this."

Pratt: I was about 13 years old at the premiere. I was watching the movie, and I remember my mom covering my eyes for that scene. Of course I saw it anyway. Monica and Quincy are practicing safe sex in the film, and I remember saying to my mother, "Oh, [the audience] clapped for that." My mom was like, "What?"

Prince-Bythewood: "Meet Joe Black" had just come out [in 1998], and in that movie, Brad Pitt loses his virginity and you see everything of his first time on his face. I asked, "Why is the male point of view OK but mine isn't?" But they would not back down. I didn't want to compromise, but the thought of girls not being able to see it, I hated that. My editor took a shot out; we resubmitted and got the PG-13. If I had kept it an R, I would've been an idiot. Losing that shot didn't affect the movie in any way and it was absolutely worth it.

THE BIG SCENE


In the film's penultimate scene, Monica challenges Quincy to a game of one-on-one to "play for his heart" before he's due to marry another woman. Monica loses, but Quincy says, "Double or nothing."

Lathan: The "I'll play you ... for your heart" line, everyone remembers that. Imagine saying that to somebody in real life without cracking up. I knew I had to just go 150,000 percent in order to make it work, otherwise it could have been a bit cringey. I remember being worried about that. I'm happy it worked out.

Terilyn A. Shropshire, editor: It was a scene that ended up getting shot over two days. The challenge was not just getting the technique of the game itself but making sure the pieces told what the game was really about ... and finding the music for that. When I initially cut it, we didn't know what was going to play behind it.

Meshell Ndegeocello, artist of "Fool of Me," which plays over this scene: I'm happy that song was in Gina's orbit and she felt it fit. Someone I had deep emotions for all of a sudden cared nothing at all about me, as if I had never existed. It made me feel, well, foolish.

Shropshire: Meshell Ndegeocello's "Bitter" [released in 1999] had just broken. I had gotten the CD, and I played ["Fool of Me"] driving in to work, and that ultimately ended up in the movie. I immediately came to the cutting room, laid it in and it just stayed. Those are happy accidents you hope for.

Lennix: I love it when Sanaa and Omar are playing each other at the end. It's a perfect physical encapsulation of a dynamic that's underlying the entire time.

Lathan: We've been conditioned in Western society that the man is the savior, the man is the one who's fighting for you. I love that it's this woman taking her destiny into her own hands. She's young, she knows what she wants and she's going after her man.

Epps: One of the biggest things that drew me to the film was how it ended. I loved the fact that it was the woman who went on to achieve those specific dreams of playing ball and the man who took a step aside. They had a family, he fell into that role and they were cool with it.

Jackie MacMullan, ESPN senior writer and commentator: They play for his love and all. I mean, that's a little cheesy, but that didn't even bother me. What I loved was that Monica didn't capitulate to him. She ran her own course, and in the end, it was her story. It was really her story, wasn't it? The fact that Gina stayed true to that made me love it.

Robin Roberts, former ESPN anchor who appears in the film: I loved the scene [right after "double or nothing"] where Monica is revealed as a WNBA player and Quincy is courtside waving their baby's hand at Mommy.

Prince-Bythewood: When I started writing it, there was no WNBA.

Cheyenne Parker, Chicago Sky forward: Hold on -- the WNBA didn't exist yet? Wow. That is so dope, didn't know that.

Prince-Bythewood: Growing up, Monica's room was my room, not gonna lie. Magic Johnson and Cheryl Miller up on the wall. I wanted to play for the Tennessee Vols and Pat Summitt. But all I had to aspire to was college. Girls now grow up knowing that after college there's a pro path. It's unbelievable. The fact that it's normal, women playing ball as pros. That was never my normal, so I'm grateful for the WNBA. The original ending was them on the blacktop, "double or nothing." Which still could have been a great ending, but the fact that the WNBA came into existence at just the right time gave me an even better ending.

RELEASE


Having shot at the real Crenshaw High, where Monica and Quincy played, it was only fitting for the film to screen at the Magic Johnson theaters nearby at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. But Prince-Bythewood, even up until the previews, was convinced she had missed her shot.

Prince-Bythewood: This was going to be my big break, and I thought I failed. We were watching the dailies for when Quincy breaks up with Monica outside of the [USC] dorm. I didn't think I'd gotten the performance. I was lying on the ground in a parking spot thinking I had messed it up. It freaked me out. I remember going home that day and curling up in my bed. It wasn't until I got into the editing room that I really saw what Sanaa gave, how next-level Sanaa was and is.

Glenndon Chatman: The first time I saw it in a theater was the premiere at the Magic Johnson theater. Being there and seeing the reaction among people of color firsthand, young black girls and men -- to see a man cry, seeing that soft side being brought out of men -- it was really big.

Prince-Bythewood: We really shot at Crenshaw High. We used girls from the basketball team, a lot of the crowds were kids from Crenshaw. We premiered it there, and there was such raucous screaming [of support]. We scored so high. It was at that moment I was like, "I think ... I think this might be good."

Shropshire: I think Mike De Luca said, "Giving you guys a second preview is like you getting an A on your test and then asking you for homework." So [before the Sundance Film Festival] we ended up only having one preview. It was just so well-received and clear that people were going to enjoy the movie.

Prince-Bythewood: We went from an all-black audience to a 99% white audience [at Sundance]. The movie ended, and it was dead silent. Thirteen hundred people, dead silent. I said in my head, "Well, I guess they didn't get it." And then the audience erupted and they gave us a standing ovation that lasted.

Lathan: Sundance was our big premiere. We had like a five-minute standing ovation, and I just ... it was a very, very proud moment for me.

Prince-Bythewood: When Sanaa came up onstage, the love they gave her, it was such a great moment for the two of us, knowing what a journey it was and how trod it was for much of the time. Truly one of the best moments of my life.

Lathan: I had no idea what it was going to become, how it was going to impact people.

RECEPTION


"Love & Basketball" was relatively well received, bringing in more than $27 million at the box office worldwide (the film's estimated budget was $15 million to $20 million). The film has a 95% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

MacMullan: I grew up in Massachusetts in the '60s, and every morning I played street hockey. I put my sneakers on, waited for everybody to show up, and I was the only girl every day. Everybody in the neighborhood is like, "What is wrong with her?" [Monica] was such an accurate portrayal. She was a complete person: her hair tied back, wearing shorts, a scar from when [young Quincy] puts her down. She wasn't some perfect Hollywood Barbie doll. She looked like a ballplayer, and as she grew, she never lost her femininity. As a young person, I was, I guess, they called us "tomboys." It was a spot-on portrayal of this segment of the population that most people never understood. It was refreshing to see. Myself and many other women put themselves in Monica's shoes. "Yeah, I can play ball with you. I might even beat you and maybe I'll kiss you, but first I'm going to knock you down."

Waithe: I was a tomboy. I always embraced my masculine side, didn't like wearing dresses and wasn't into straightening my hair. I related to [Monica]. I wasn't like the other girls. That was unique -- we hadn't really seen that [on film]. When you see a movie for the first time and instantly know "This is going to stay with me for a long time -- I'm going to watch this again and again" -- it's an exclusive club, and "Love & Basketball" fits into that category with "Love Jones," "Boyz n the Hood" and "Cooley High."

Parker: I felt like Monica. In the park. That was for sure me. Except no little boy would've pushed me like that. I would've pushed him back.

Roberts: You're usually cringing when you see the basketball scenes or the athletic scenes on film. This was different. And it was a microcosm of life. The hopes, the fears, the ambition, all of it. It was just perfectly done. I can't think of another true sports film like that, where a woman is so significant and is not minimized.

Ruth E. Carter, costume designer: Part of why this film has endured was because Gina ensured that it was authentic. Like having Monica wear socks and slides after practice or game scenes because athletes need their toes to breathe. That's the norm, and that was all Gina -- she made Monica relatable.

Napheesa Collier, 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year and All-Star, Minnesota Lynx forward: As a black girl, I could identify with Monica. It's usually a story about white people. My mom's white, and I obviously grew up around half my family being white, but it's really cool to see people on the screen that looked like me and play the sport that I play.

Cynthia Guidry, executive producer: I cannot tell you over the last 20 years how many men and women have told me they love it. My mail carrier years ago said, "I was watching 'Love & Basketball' with my daughter. It's her favorite movie. I saw your name in the credits. I screamed, 'I sort her mail!'" It's something women and younger girls really hold dear. It was this young-adult romantic drama with people who happen to be black. Movies like this, they're not made often. When they're made and made well, that's really something.

Diamond DeShields, 2019 WNBA All-Star, Chicago Sky guard: I admired seeing an African American love story. Love between two young successful African American athletes was something we weren't seeing [on film] at the time. [Like when Gabrielle Union, who played Shawnee -- who was dating Quincy at the time -- says to Monica,] "I didn't know Nike made dresses," at the dance. Not knowing how to sit when you wear a dress, wearing sweats all the time because that's what makes you comfortable, that resonates with female athletes. There are expectations put on us as women in sports. Monica was beautifully played and beautifully written, so it's a lot of people's favorite movie.

Sheryl Swoopes, Naismith and Women's Basketball halls of fame, first WNBA player signed: I was just like, "That is so my story." That was my initial reaction. I thought it was well written, but it was very true for so many women in sports, not just basketball players. I played ball, I had a child, I took some time off and then when I came back to play, my husband at the time was there in the stands taking care of the baby while I played. I'm like, "Someone had me in mind." Well, I know I didn't get a check, so ... [Laughs]

Collier: It really was how it is for [women] basketball players. Even in high school, when I would go to the gym, I'd play guys who don't want a girl on their team. You start playing, you're better than all the guys. You're always underestimated as a girl, so ["Love & Basketball"] was really fun. Most people who play basketball, in the WNBA and NBA, have watched this movie. I don't know anyone who hasn't.

Nneka Ogwumike, 2016 WNBA MVP and champion, Los Angeles Sparks forward: It's an incredibly relevant movie and a testament: showing a main character as a woman playing sports who ends up being more successful than her partner. It shows the empowerment of a woman who's determined to do what she wants to do.

Epps: My youngest daughter's 15. She tells me her whole generation, they love the film. It's a fairy tale. It's relatable. It doesn't thumb its nose up at you emotionally.

Prince-Bythewood: Timeless is what an artist hopes their work can be. My intention was to make a black love story that gives an opportunity to see ourselves up onscreen.

Shropshire: I don't think we could ever meet the expectations [of a sequel]. We'd almost be taking "When Harry Met Sally" and saying, "When are we going to see that sequel?" Those characters' stories were told. I don't necessarily need to know what happened to Quincy and Monica or where they are 20 years later.

Melody Ehsani, designer, collection includes a Monica and Quincy-themed T-shirt: Most basketball movies feature a male lead, like "White Men Can't Jump." And there are so many more. They keep pumping them out, but why can't we get another story with a woman lead as a baller? This movie represented my fantasy, a dream of what life could be -- and we only get one?

Parker: I plan on making a sequel if no one else makes one. [Laughs]

Stern: I did try to convince Gina to do the sequel. I understand the arguments against not doing one, but I just know, in her hands, she'd make another inspiring movie. She's not into it. I don't blame her.

Matsuhara: I cannot even begin to tell you how many people have asked me, "When's Part 2 coming out?" Gina's response was that this was her only sports drama she wanted to do. But with Monica coming out on top, people are dying for the rest of the story.

Prince-Bythewood: Hell no. There will never be a sequel to "Love & Basketball." I told the story I wanted to tell. Anything we would do would tarnish the legacy. It's incredibly flattering that people want the story to continue. I would never denigrate anyone who wants a sequel because that's dope. The story and the life that audiences have concocted in their minds for these characters is a thousand times better than anything that I would come up with.
Copyright © 2021 ESPN Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.