I have a somewhat unique perspective on this debate seeing as how I am a lifelong Michigan fan, who grew up in West Bloomfield and was called the things Grant Hill was when I played basketball against city teams. TO those of you not from Michigan, West Bloomfield is a largely affluent all white suburb where auto executives and their lawyers and doctors live. When I was growing up the only other black I saw that were not related to me was my best friend Kenny Slaughter and all of the cleaning ladies at the bus stop. On my street my mom was the only woman that worked. All my friends got cars when they turned 15 and their families regularly vacationed overseas. I never heard of Ramen noodles until I was in college.
Grant Hill’s response to the Fab Five and more specifically Jalen Rose was eloquently written and ironically enough praised my mostly white male journalist over 50. The irony in that is, they are making Jalen’s original point he made in the film. Those same people ignored the hate mail, or the professional nearly 40-year old men the Fab Five have evolved into, and went for the headline jugular. They notice the sensational caption but amazingly miss the bigger picture. These are the same talking heads that praise John Calipari, Billy Donavon and Jim Tressel, yet blast the Fab Five. I am not defending their actions I am just baffled at how the adults seem to get a pass.
And there is just something always hilarious to me hearing older white people discuss being an uncle tom. Relax, I am not saying a white person cannot discuss racial issues with black people, or that a woman cannot discuss men’s sports, but people are passing judgment on Jalen’s ability to use the term (in a past sense) who don’t fully have an understanding of the term. It is no different than Adrian Peterson foolishly comparing the NFL labor situation to slavery. If he had any sense of the unparallel brutality actual slaves went through, or hell if he just borrowed my VHS copy of Roots, he would know better than to carelessly throw that dramatic of terminology around.
The ultimate irony of course in all of this is the Fab Five attended the University of Michigan. Michigan is one of the three best public institutions of higher learning in our country. They received just as much criticism from their own alumni as they did across the country. Michigan is the school where people yell at other Michigan fans for standing up during games at the Big House. The very same things the Fab Five ignorantly thought of the Duke basketball players, has been said of the Michigan football program in Detroit for years.
Congrats you are all no better than the people you criticize. Depending on the seat in which you sit, your entire view changes.
I thought Grants response letter revealed as much about Grant as it did Jalen. I grew up in the very neighborhood Grant lived in as a Pistons player. I grew up 10 minutes away from Country Day high school (Chris Webber, Shane battier) that was high lighted in the Fab Five film. I heard all those very things said about Grant Hill said to me. And by the some of the same people. When you grow up in the suburbs of Detroit as a black male in 70’s and 80’s it is unavoidable. My own family members and my best friends to this day tease me about how easy I had it growing up.
When playing against Jalen’s AAU team, I tried to draw a charge on future Minnesota Golden Gopher and NBA player Voshon Lenard. Bad idea. I am 5’10 with no hops. He was 6’4, and back then, with serious bounce. It ended poorly for your boy.
When you get dunked on there are two things you simply have to do. Don’t fall over and just as importantly inbound the basketball as fast as humanly possible. I stumbled but didn’t fall, and grabbed the ball and threw it in and raced up court. That of course did nothing to stop this lanky awkward lefty power forward by the name of Jalen Rose from running from the opposite corner sprinting cross-court. He wasn’t even guarding me but he made a point to run all the way up to me, to remind me that I got dunked on etc, etc. I shot him an elbow and we proceeded to talk trash the rest of the game. He said things to me I am sure he said to Grant, because of the team I played on. We all had authentic jerseys, new expensive kicks, and were a “suburb” team. And I said things back to him that would make Archie Bunker blush. We were both young kids trying to win a war of words. This was 21 years ago. Its nothing personal. Its basketball.
I think Grant took the comments in the movie about him very personally. I also am convinced he never watched the entire film. If he had, he would have realized what I did when I watched the film that Jalen and the rest of the Fab Five were stating what they thought at 18 years old. Furthermore they went on to praise Duke and its players saying that they were the better team. Jalen went as far to say that he was “Jealous” of Grant and his upbringing.
This struck a chord with Grant because he has heard this his entire career. In fact it almost cost him his NBA career. When the Pistons drafted him, some black people in Detroit foolishly never accepted Grant for the very fact he went to Duke. The difference between then and Jalen as an 18-year-old kid is, they were adult working people who were raising families. They should know better. It is extremely ignorant to dislike another black person because they come from an educated family. How incredibly short sided and petty is that. This bothered Grant. To the point that he foolishly tried to play with a severe foot injury in the 1999-2000 NBA playoffs
There is no logical reason for Grant to have been playing in that series. He was obviously hurt; he could barely walk, let alone run up and down and perform on a basketball court. He played on to the point that he basically sacrificed the next 6 years of his career, to prove a point to a group of people that were never going to be accepting of him. That same chip on his shoulder that made him foolishly play when he was injured is the same chip that made him overreact to comments about him from 20 years ago.
Sometimes we hear what we want to hear. I watched the film a second time just to make sure that I didn’t overlook some aspect of the movie that I missed the first time. It was just as good, and raw, and emotional and truthful the second time around.