Coach K responds to Jalen Rose

March 29, 2011

It took a few weeks, but Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski has responded to Jalen Rose’s charge that the only black players recruited by Duke are “Uncle Toms.”

Rose’s comments, Kryzezewski said on a Chicago radio station, were “very insulting to everyone here at Duke but especially, not just our African-American players, but any African-American students.”

Rose made his controversial comments in the ESPN documentary, “The Fab Five,” which aired two weeks ago. Most interestingly, K addressed his failure to recruit Rose, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King:

“We were very successful against them and, to be quite frank with you, we recruited Chris Webber,” he said. “I didn’t recruit Jalen Rose because we had Grant Hill and I’m happy with that. We didn’t look at the other, Juwan Howard [because] we knew he wasn’t going to come to Duke. The other two kids we didn’t think were the caliber that could play as well as Thomas Hill and Brian Davis and Billy McCaffery. They’re good kids. They were good kids.”

That sounds reasonable to me. Duke’s group did win a national title.

Read more here.


Jalen Rose Says Uncle (Tom)

March 16, 2011


Like most of college basketball-loving America, Jeremy and I both watched ESPN’s “Fab Five” documentary on Sunday night. The film took me back to the peak of my sports fandom. As a die-hard Duke basketball fan, I was intrigued by the Fab Five in 1992, but I don’t remember having a visceral reaction. A year later, I was avidly on board with them. The documentary was a reminder of their singular on-court style and deeply challenging off-court style.

Since Sunday, the film’s racial politics have touched off debate. Most of the discussion has centered on the Fab Five’s racially tinged comments about Duke. Specifically, there’s been a lot of dissection of Rose’s assertion that the only black players Duke recruits are Uncle Toms. In the classic sense, Uncle Toms are black men who ingratiate themselves to whites. As Grant Hill points out in his rebuttal, Rose’s Uncle Tom seems to be something else: a black man with no discernible black qualities. Hill appears as the film’s chief example, although none of the Fab Five directly accuse him.

(I’m wondering when a certain Michigander will weigh in on this. I’d imagine plenty of big thoughts on this are floating around in that wrinkly head.)

Rose’s teammates — Jimmy King, Ray Jackson and Juwan Howard — spoke harshly of Duke. And hilariously: Christian Laettner was a b****. But their name-calling fell within the realm of generally accepted competitive trash talk. Rose went farther, launching a political attack against Duke’s recruiting practices. I hesitate to take his comments seriously now. As mentioned elsewhere, Rose was acknowledging his feelings from 20 years ago, not necessarily stating a current opinion.

The Uncle Tom discussion was one of many points where I wished Chris Webber had been involved. Read the rest of this entry »