Are Black Duke Players "Uncle Toms"?
This week on ESPN they are going to feature a documentary on the Fab 5 of Michigan. This is part of their 30 for 30 series that has been quite excellent. Especially the one on Allen Iverson when he went to jail in Virginia for getting into that bowling alley fight with white students was one of my favorites.
This time they are going to feature the "The Fab 5" who were 5 true freshmen that had started for the Michigan Wolverines in 1991. Coach Steve Fisher at the time had assembled the top recruiting class in the nation and decided they were better then any players they had coming back. Even though only 3 made it in the NBA they together were a powerful unit, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King, Chris Webber, JuWan Howard and Jalen Rose. This was unheard of at the time, to start 5 freshmen at a division 1 school was insane. Don't get me wrong, freshman can start in college basketball and be stars but there is always some upperclassman to keep them in check and show them them the robes. This recruiting class was symbolic for the fact that it had never been done before and they really changed the way college basketball was played, dressed and "swagger" that was being displayed. As Hip-Hop looked to be the soundtrack to the "Fab 5"'s every move on the court.
I can remember that you were a fool if you didn't have black high socks and shorts that went passed your knees on the court to go along with and over sized jersey. You were gump of the year and showed it that you didn't have game or street cred. The Fab 5 was loud, flashy, skilled and everyone wanted to be like them, shit I think I shaved my head and wanted #5 just like Rose. It was like having an NBA team playing in college basketball, with the dunks, around the back passes and they could shit talk with the best of them. The coverage they received was incredible, it was like following a rock group around and you quickly forgot that they were kids. They were only 18 years-old and you wanted to know there every move and copy their style.
Recently, Jalen Rose who was the point guard at the time was asked about Duke and this was he said how he felt at the time:
“For me, Duke was personal. I hated Duke. And I hated everything I felt Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.”
What Jalen was feeling at this time was nothing new in the black community or better yet my community. Til this day I have hate for Duke which goes all the way back to when Christian Laettner made that game winning shot vs., Jamal Mashburn and Kentucky in the Semi-Finals of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. It started then and has never left me. It's crazy, you mention the word Duke and I feel a little anger inside me.
When you think of Duke, you automatically think of it as a snob school, a place where black people could not thrive. But if you know Durham, NC it is very black, you just don't see a lot of black people attending the school. From Chris Collins to Bobby Hurley, you wonder if they were really any good and if the Refs really would help the Dukies get pushed to next round. They always seemed to get the benefit of all the calls and the media. The media was always looking for a way for Duke to pull it out because of how smart they were. What a loaded of shit that it.
You could definitely consider them the Yankees for that you love to hate them, it just makes life a little easier. I guess the real question that comes to mind is, do I respect Duke? And the answer is yes I do. You have to respect them but the hate is is there as I need air to breathe. It's a part of life these days.