Forty-five years ago, Texas Western University’s all-Black starting lineup defeated No. 1-ranked University of Kentucky all-White basketball team for the 1966 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. The game, played at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House on March 19, 1966, sent major White universities scouring the country for African-American players, literally changing the face of college basketball.
Pat Riley, a member of Adolph Rupp’s losing team and former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, was a member of the Kentucky team that lost 72-65. Jerry Bruckheimer, who made “Glory Road,” a movie about the game, told the El Paso Times: “Pat Riley told me this great story that Magic Johnson came into his office when he was coach of the Lakers and said, ‘Had not David Lattin dunked that ball over you, I wouldn’t be in here [the NBA].'”
Judging from the controversy created by former University of Michigan and Chicago Bulls basketball star Jalen Rose, one would be forgiven if he or she thought that Michigan’s all-freshmen and all-Black “Fab Five” played in the most historic college games. They didn’t. The team made it to the NCAA finals twice, losing each time.
The 1991 University of Michigan freshmen basketball players were considered the greatest class ever recruited. They included Jalen Rose and Chris Webber, of Detroit, Juwan Howard, of Chicago, and Texas standouts Jimmy King and Ray Jackson.
In addition to being talented, they were brash, talked trash, and popularized baggy gym shorts and shaved heads.
But, it was Rose’s comments in a documentary that he produced about the Fab Five that created a controversy that has gone into overtime.
In the documentary, Rose said, “For me, Duke was a person. I hated Duke, and I hated everything Duke stood for. Schools like Duke don’t recruit players like me. I felt that they only recruited players that were Uncle Toms.”
First, Rose’s statement isn’t true. Second, even if it were, they were exceptionally talented Uncle Toms, defeating Michigan all four times the Fab Five faced Duke, including one national championship game.
To his credit, Rose later said that was the view he held of Duke at the time, not today.
Former Duke star Grant Hill answered Rose in a New York Times op-ed.
“It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a bitch and worse, calling all Black players at