In 1966, Texas Western coach Don Haskins led the first all-black starting line-up for a college basketball team to the NCAA national championship game. Unranked and unknown Texas Western beat number one ranked Kentucky for the NCAA Title in what is considered one of the GREAT UPSETS in NCAA basketball history.
After seeing the movie Glory Road, which is based on a true story, I have to say I liked it better than the movie Hoosiers which was an inspired story “very loosely based” on an Indiana HS basketball team’s win at their state finals.
Texas Western not only had to win on the basketball court, they also had to contend with the overt racism experienced during their climb to fame.
REAL HISTORICAL EVENTS
Play by the rules...even when the rules and common decency work against you.
Play as a team...an all inclusive team.
Play to win...and win the BIG ONES.
...win or lose, get in the game (subliminal msg to recruiters from VBM).
The dramatic message here does touch on “recruitment” in an historically meaningful way. If you haven’t seen this movie it essentially shows the Texas Western head coach, Don Haskins, actively recruiting, as coaches are want to do – but specifically for North Eastern US black players – a rarity for Southern based basketball teams which were white dominated and mostly segregated back in the day.
Coach Haskins diversity recruitment effort and results made NCAA history and much more according to Frank Fitzpatrick, a sportswriter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and author of a 1999 book on the championship game, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Kentucky, Texas Western and the Game That Changed American Sports (ISBN 978-0-80-326901-9), wrote in a 2003 piece on the team,
|“||But even as the jubilant Miners celebrated a new set of myths was emerging. Rupp's lingering bitterness helped paint the Miners as urban street thugs, quasi-professionals imported from Northern cities to win Haskins a championship.||”|
Sadly, Don Haskins was quoted as saying, soon after Texas Western's defeat of mighty Kentucky and winning the NCAA Basketball Championship finals --
|“The worst time of my life was the next two weeks that we won the championship and thousands of hate letters started coming in. And it really didn't dawn on me what this was all about until that time.”|