Jalen Rose: When Your "Uncle Tom" Is Your Daddy!

Harold BellContributor IIIApril 9, 2011

Grant Hill makes move on Jason Kidd
Grant Hill makes move on Jason KiddChristian Petersen/Getty Images

Jalen Rose’s March Madness documentary, seen on ESPN, chronicling Michigan basketball and the “Fab Five” was entertaining and hard hitting. 

Sometimes below the belt.

I waited patiently for all the media pundits and experts to psychoanalyze Jalen’s assumption that black basketball players recruited by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski were “Uncle Toms.”

I also waited for the conclusion of Sunday’s March 20th third round showdown between Duke and Michigan.

These two teams had not faced each other since the 1992 NCAA Championship final game.  It took 19 years for the rematch, and the results were the sameanother Duke victory. 

The only difference was that this time the game was not decided until the final buzzer, 73-71.  I 1992 it was over at the beginning of the second half.  Duke trailed at halftime 41-40 when Christian Laetner opened the second half by scoring the first Duke pointsthey never trailed again.

The 2011 NCAA Championship finals between two-time champion Connecticut and last year's runner-up Cinderella team Butler was a total mismatch. 

Butler will always be remembered as the team who could not shoot straight.  They shot a dismal 12 of 64 on basket for a record low 18.8 percent.  Final score  53-41. 

Jalen Rose was a member of of a great Michigan freshman team that made its way to the championship final with four other freshmen who became known as the “Fab Five.”

Along with Jalen, the four other freshmen included Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, and Jimmy King.  This was the first time ever that five freshmen had led their school to a championship final.

The real kick in the ass was that they were all black and talked smack throughout March Madness, and in the end, could not back it up. 

They were beaten by a better coached and more disciplined Duke basketball team.

The over-confidence may have come from a meeting that the Fab Five had with their hero "The Greatest," Muhammad Ali.  They met with him in his hotel room leading up to the clash with Duke. 

On the way back to their hotel room, Juwan faced the television cameras and said “We are going to shock the World.”  It was a poor imitation of Ali.  

When all was said and done it was Duke who shocked The Fab Five.

Chris Webber was last seen leaving the losing locker room, threatening every cameraman in sight.  He used MF like he had learned it in his 101 English class.

Looking back, “The Fab Five” were terrible role models for young aspiring playground basketball players.  Their swagger, foul language, and trash talk was aired all over the country.

Talking about a sore loser, meet Chris Webber.  Today he and Jalen can be seen on national television as color analysts for NBA basketball.  Something is wrong with this picture.

The origin of trash talk had its beginnings on the inner-city playgrounds of Black America.  That was how we played the game.

It was nothing new, but the looks and sounds of “The Fab Five” made white America look down and hold their collective noses.

It didn’t help that it was later revealed that they had been on the take from a “Local Booster” who had no ties to the school.  Chris and his teammates had taken thousands of dollars from businessman Ed Martin during their short stay at Michigan.

I lost all respect for Chris Webber when he kicked Mr. Martin under the bus and then put the bus in reverse and backed over him. 

Those of us who grew up in the inner-city and were outstanding or gifted athletes knew many father figures like Ed Martin. 

They are usually former athletes who never had an opportunity to take their talents to the next level.  Many had gone on to become successful businessmen, hustlers, gamblers, drug dealers, or pimps. 

They just wanted to be around and in the company of young and gifted athletes like they wished they could have been..

Elgin Baylor, the greatest basketball player to ever come out of DC, had plenty of Ed Martins following him around during his high school and college careers.

The notorious Washington, DC drug dealer Rayful Edmond adopted Georgetown basketball players Alonzo Morning and John Turner, among others. There was no thought of turning them into drug dealers or putting them in harm’s way. He treated the players like “Eye Candy.”

They were almost equal to having a “Pretty Woman” on your arm. 

The players got all the benefits of the female companion: dinner and lunch at the finest restaurants, shopping sprees at the men’s haberdasher of their choice, and a few dollars to take their dates to a movie. 

Ed Martin was nothing more than a fan trying to look out for the young brothersmaybe hoping one day to get a return on his investment when they turned pro.

The biggest basketball fix for pay scandals involved the City College of New York (CCNY) and the recent NBA referee who served jail time for fixing games.  There were no black master minds involved.

Former NBA color analyst and Philadelphia playground basketball legend Sonny Hill often says, “we nature and groom these young athletes, and guys like white sports agent David Falk reap all the financial benefits.”

Jalen Rose, the executive producer of this year’s controversial documentary, admitted he did not approve of his teammate Chris Webber kicking Ed Martin under the bus.

Black men like Ed Martin were not a threat to college basketball.  They are not out there trying to figure out away to get the players to throw games or to beat the point spread, but they will make a bet on their favorite team to win.

I found it difficult to understand why folks get upset when NFL running back Adrian Peterson calls the NFL a plantation and Juwan Howard calls Duke players Uncle Toms!

The plantation mentality and Uncle Toms are both still entwined into the American fabric.  They are just dressed up in suits and ties.

Fast forward to 19 years later: March 2011. 

Sportswriter Jason Whitlock, once again, all dressed up, puts on his short skirt and grabs a pair of pom-poms to cheer on Duke.

He gives the blues to former Michigan and NBA player Rose for calling black basketball player Grant Hill and other black Duke players “Uncle Toms.”

Jalen is a bright and articulate NBA television color analyst, and I think he was on point.  But “Uncle Tom” was a little too strong of a phrase to use in this case. "Hypocrite" or "opportunist" would have been a better choice of words, and a better fit for Grant and his father Calvin.

I met Calvin when he first arrived in DC to play for the NFL Washington Redskins after being acquired in a trade from the Dallas Cowboys.

Calvin became a fixture on my radio sports talk show “The Original Inside Sports."

He later joined the Board of Directors of my non-profit “Kids In Trouble, Inc.”  He participated in my annual Christmas toy drives for needy children and many other community involved projects.  

He grew up in nearby Baltimore and was at home in the Nation’s Capitol. 

We traveled throughout the DC metro area, talking with and meeting with youth advocate groups whose primary function was working with "At-Risk" children.

When his son Grant became a star high school basketball player at South Lakes High School in Northern Virginia, you could hear him on my radio talk show talking sports on any given morning.  

My first cousin Tommy Harrison had a young son who was an outstanding point guard at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.  DeMatha is “The House” that legendary great basketball coach Morgan Wooten built. 

His son, a.k.a. “Little Tommy,” and Grant became fast friends while playing AAU Basketball. 

It was during the college recruiting process that “Little Tommy” was being heavily recruited by Georgetown, among others. Grant was being recruited by every college basketball powerhouse in America.

Morgan and I both tried to warn my cousin about the pitfalls of attending Georgetown, but our warnings fell on deaf ears.  His father “Big Tommy” was never the sharpest knife in the drawer, and our warnings fell on deaf ears. 

My little cousin was a “Mommy’s Boy” and he had been pampered all his life.  I knew that he would not make it in the foul mouthed, hollering, screaming John Thompson system.  

I was right; he lasted one year and wanted out. He transferred to Wake Forest, never to be heard from again.

HBO held a premier on the story about the Black Athlete during Black History Month at a downtown hotel in the 90s. During the reception, Calvin saw me holding a conversation with NY Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden and the author of “Million Dollar Slaves.” 

Speaking of the book and its author, Bill Rhoden, it was the kettle calling the pot black again. 

How can you call pro athletes be  "Million Dollar Slaves" when you are employed by one of the biggest plantations in Americamajor news media?

When Bill walked away Calvin said, “Harold the next time you talk to Rhoden you need to tell him to pay me my money.”  I was like "why can’t you tell him yourself?"

This was the "Two-Faces" of Calvin Hill at work again!

I remember one year Jim Brown was in DC to co-host a Kids In Trouble, Inc Youth Violence Conference with Congressman Tom Davis (R-Virginia).  Calvin was working in the front office of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles during that time.

He begged me to bring Jim to Baltimore and to the Orioles’ stadium for a tour.  Jim agreed because he and Orioles' Manager Frank Robinson were great friends.

Unknown to Jim and I, the Orioles were holding a Board of Directors meeting and in that meeting was another Jim Brown friendbaseball great (the late) Joe DiMaggio (the only pro athlete I ever was tempted to ask for an autograph). 

We were allowed into the meeting, and Jim and Joe huddled for few minutes to talk.  I moved off to the side to allow them some privacy, but the great Joe DiMaggio motioned me over to join them.  I learned that the two legends used to hold their own Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament in Las Vegas. 

In the meantime, Calvin was trying to find a photographer to take our pictureno such luck. 

He then took us out to the playing field, where Frank Robinson was holding a team practice.

Frank was surprised and happy to see Jim and he showed it with a bear hug and a soul hand shake.  I stayed back until Jim called me over to introduce me to Frank.

I watched Calvin and Grant Hill change right before my eyes. Once at Duke, he never appeared on Inside Sports againsounds familiar. 

When Grant turned pro, he later gave a donation of one million dollars to Duke University. This was on top of the millions of dollars that they had already made off of him.  

The black community and Kids In Trouble were never given a second thought.

This kind of reach-back effort has become the norm for successful black athletes in our community.

I noticed that Calvin started to talk very negatively about Jim Brown.  

I think it all stemmed from a discussion on my sports talk show during a heated debate.  Jim called Calvin out on an issue, and the silence was deafening.  I would discover later that he was jealous of Jim.

These were two giant egos and so-called intellects trying to outsmart each other on sports talk radio.

Calvin would later tell me stories of how former NFL player Bubba Smith would always say that Jim thought he was smarter than everyone, and how he would try to dominate every conversation.

This was something I already knew because of my up close and personal relationship with Jim.

I confronted Calvin at a fundraiser that I helped coordinate for native Washingtonian and NFL great Willie Wood in Georgetown several years ago.  

I saw Calvin making small talk and smiling in Jim’s face.  I waited until Jim had turned his attention elsewhere, and  I called Calvin a hypocrite to his face. 

This is just another example of “Smiling Faces Telling Lies.”  He quickly made an exit from the fundraiser.

Yes, Jalen the word hypocrite best describes the Hills!


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