I was a huge NBA fan growing up. I still get goosebumps thinking about the players of the '90s like Michael Jorden, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing...etc. It was a fascinating period in the league.
I knew very little about the other basketball giant out there in men's NCAA basketball.
I've never intensely followed college basketball, but I have always had an appreciation for the traditions of certain universities as well as the greatness of the top coaches.
One thing sure in my mind about the NCAA was Duke and North Carolina were always the best, and I rooted for the Tar Heels. Duke didn't interest me. I didn't have a particular reason for cheering on North Carolina; I just didn't want the Blue Devils to win.
With the airing of his documentary about the "Fab Five," this week, Jalen Rose entrenched himself in ridicule with questionable comments about the beloved Duke University. Rose said he felt Duke never recruited players like him, only black players who were "Uncle Toms." In an interview, Rose later described Duke as a place for the elite and a place poor black kids could never be.
Grant Hill, an African American Duke alum, obviously took offense at Rose's comments and fired back. In an open letter penned by Hill, he accused Rose of participating in the same hypocrisy that levied insults at Rose's "Fab Five," in the early '90s. Grant went on to say he was proud of his heritage and his time at Duke University.
I like Jalen Rose and Grant Hill. Both have been tremendous on and off the court.
With whom do I side in this argument?
Mostly Jalen Rose.
While I wouldn't have used the term "Uncle Tom," I do agree with the gist of what Rose was conveying. Personal attacks aside, the question remains as to why Duke only recruits a certain type of black player.
Grant Hill, Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Trajan Langdon, Jay Williams, etc. all fit the bill...black and middle class. Why can't a black male from the ghetto get a chance at Duke? Is Duke afraid of being responsible for him? Are they afraid he might not fit in?
I now realize the reason I wasn't fond of Duke is the lack of connectivity. The fire, emotion and will that black players exhibit on the basketball court are time and time again stifled at Duke.
Sure, the university has been very successful, but how much more with the likes of Jordan, Magic, Kareem and other inner-city kids they passed on. There is nothing wrong with flare. Perhaps, it is the very reason eyes are on Kemba Walker and Jared Sullinger, who seem to be sure bids for an NBA roster.
I feel Duke is afraid of a black face representing the university and will not allow a black superstar on its roster. What is even more tragic is the fact that black Duke players are not addressing the issue. In Hill's rebuttal, he does not take time to address his own university's lapse in judgement.
I don't know Coach K personally, but he owes an explanation to the black community. A real coach accepts any challenge—ask Dean Smith.
Hill vs. Rose aside, Jalen puts an interesting question on the table: Am I good enough for Duke?