Eleven years ago today, Gina Prince-Bythewood's Love & Basketball opened in theaters nationwide. The film starred Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, childhood friends who fall in love thanks largely to their passion of basketball. The cast also included Alfre Woodard, Boris Kudjoe, Gabrielle Union and Tyra Banks (remember when she wanted to act?).
Love & Basketball was coming off the nineties, a heyday for Black film. Movies like Love Jones, Soul Food and Spike Lees films all performed well at the box office and received critical acclaim. Lee was a producer on Love & Basketball and the studio for the film was through his production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks.
Prince-Bythewood managed to find an entertaining balance between romance and the complexity of ignoring what has always been in front of you. While Lathan already had roles in Blade and The Best Man, her character in this movie is what made her a favorite in the African-American community.
Love & Basketball would gross over 27 million at the box office. The movie won four NAACP Image Awards, two Independent Spirit Awards and both Lathan and Epps won best actor at the 2001 BET Awards.