Tag Archives: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

Jalen, Grant, Race, Etc.

Before I say anything that has anything to do with race relations in America, let me be clear:  I’m completely aware that nobody comes to this site to read my musings about history, politics, sociology, or any of the hot-button issues that tend to divide Americans.  So, I generally stay away from even touching on any of those issues here.  (In response to that, some might observe that nobody comes to this site to read what I have to say about basketball, either, and, yet, I continue undeterred.  Fair point.  Wiseass.)

For a few weeks, though, I have been compelled to dip my toe into that dangerous water, because of the brewhaha involving, Jalen, Grant, Duke, and Michigan, in the wake of the airing of “The Fab Five” on ESPN.

To even dip a toe in the water, it is necessary to first set the table for a discussion that touches on race:  In my experience, it is impossible to talk about race in America. Regardless of what position you take in a discussion about race, there are people who are ready to accuse you of racism.  Against affirmative action?  Plenty of people will call you racist.  In favor of it?  Same thing.

Because there are accusations of racism around every corner in a conversation about race, I appreciate people who are honest about their racial feelings.  Of course, that appreciation only goes so far — people who shamelessly espouse racist feelings get no appreciation from me.  But, in general, assuming people are expressing opinions that I consider to be on the spectrum of opinions that people of good faith can have, I’d rather have someone who is fully open about their feelings than someone who speaks in code, or hides their feelings.  So, when I hear that someone used controversial language about race, I try to put the comment in context before being too critical.

Which brings me to Jalen Rose’s comments.  I watched the film, and it sounded to me like Jalen was expressing jealousy at Grant Hill’s upbringing; Jalen pointed out that Grant’s father was a professional athlete who raised Grant in a loving, supportive household, while Jalen’s father was a professional athlete who wanted nothing to do with Jalen.  It was also clear to me that, when Jalen talked about hating Duke because the only black athletes it recruited were “Uncle Toms,” it was obvious to me that Jalen was expressing the feelings he felt as a 19-year-old, not the feelings he holds now.  I mean, the guy sits in a tv studio cracking jokes with Hannah Storm; it’s quite clear that he thinks black folks can work with white folks without giving up part of their identity.  Thus, while I generally find references to “Uncle Toms” offensive, I didn’t have much of a problem with Jalen’s comments, because I understood the context.

In light of that, I was a bit surprised at the emotion the comments stirred up in Grant Hill. I thought Grant’s response (here) was both thoughtful and thought-provoking.  It just seemed slightly over-the-top.

There’s much more to say about the comments from Jalen and Grant, and the various issues those comments bring up, but I don’t think I could add much to the statements above and to the insightful analysis of Michael Wilbon (here).

So, let’s switch the topic to some hoopservations about the film.  I have two:

1.  Mitch Albom’s comments about the money Chris Webber allegedly received as an amateur resonated with me.  Mitch said that he spent lots of time with Webber in Ann Arbor during his days at Michigan, and, if Webber was taking hundreds of thousands of dollars of money from a booster, he was doing a fantastic job of hiding it.  I wasn’t at Ann Arbor when C-Webb was (and, if I had been, I’m pretty sure that he would have been able to find people to hang out with who were more fun than I am), but I’ve been hearing stories for years about Webber having to go without things that he wanted even while his jersey sold for $70 in stores that he would walk by.  (Perhaps I just spend too much time listening to and reading Mitch Album.)  Something about the notion that he was taking hundreds of thousands of dollars while he was there doesn’t make sense to me.

2.  As a basketball fan, it was sad to look back on that footage and that era of college basketball.  None of the players in those videos, who seemed to have such promising careers at the time, wound up being an important player on a championship team in the NBA.  I’m not just talking about the Fab Five themselves, I’m also talking about Hill, Laettner and Hurley from Duke; Johnson, Augmon, and Anthony from UNLV, and all of the guys on the Carolina team that beat Michigan in the famous national championship game.  It just goes to show that, no matter how talented college athletes are, there are no guarantees about what the future has in store for them.  For all we know, the high-flying, trash-talking, trend-setting, rising young star might one day retire from the NBA with no championships, and move on to become an ESPN analyst alongside Hannah Storm.

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Tournament Thoughts

A great couple of days of hoops.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch nearly as much as I would have liked.  Some thoughts:

  1. Has anyone ever seen Cole Aldrich and Eric Montross in the same room?  Just curious.
  2. With all due respect to Northern Iowa, I can’t think of a single reason why a recruit would choose Northern Iowa over UNLV. (Let me remind you: the “LV” in UNLV stands for Las Vegas.  Yes.  Las-friggin’-Vegas.  And the “Northern Iowa” in Northern Iowa stands for, yes, NORTHERN-FRIGGIN’-IOWA.)  I have no idea why anyone would choose to go to school in Northern Iowa who could go to school in Las-friggin’-Vegas.  Yet, Northern Iowa beat UNLV.  College hoops is a grazy game.
  3. College hoops is a crazy game.  Have I mentioned that already?  On January 18, the Texas Longhorns – then 17-0 and ranked #1 in the country – lost to Kansas State.  Exactly two months later, on March 18, the Texas Longhorns – then 23-8 and seeded #8 in their region – had their season ended by a lousy Wake Forest team.  If anyone has a sensible explanation for what happened to Texas, I’m interested to hear it.
  4. Even as crazy as college hoops is, one would think that someone who pays for the domain name hoopservations.com, just so he can blog about basketball for the entertainment of all 4 of his friends that read the blog, would be able to make some sensible predictions about what would happen in the tournament.  One would think that if his kept his predictions conservative and predicted, for example, simply that Big East teams would do well in the tournament, he would walk away from the endeavor with some dignity intact.  Well, you’d be wrong.  Thursday was just a disaster for the Big East, with Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Marquette all losing to lower-seeded teams, and Villanova nearly losing to Robert Morris.  (I don’t know who Robert Morris is, but I think he used to go to my camp.  He had two brothers, and a wicked temper, if I recall.  I didn’t realize he started a university.)  Syracuse, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh helped turn things around on Friday, but it’s still shaping up to be a bad year for the Big East.
  5. At one point during yesterday’s Oklahoma State – Georgia Tech game, the announcers referred to “Oliver” and “Miller” from Oklahoma State within a few moments of each other, and, from that point forward, every time I heard one of their names, I remembered this dude.
  6. Interesting article here.
  7. Before this tournament started, there was already writing on the wall telling us that the end of the college basketball world as we know it is here.  North Carolina, UCLA, Indiana, Arizona, and UCONN are all not in it.
  8. At this time every year, I get nostalgic for Harold “The Show” Arceneaux.  If you’re wondering where he’s been since he set the tournament on fire, wikipedia has it covered (of course).  Whenever I think of Harold “The Show” Arceneaux, it reminds me that I know nothing about how NBA GM’s scout talent; Darko Milicic is still in the league, and so is Kwame Brown, but Harold “The Show” Arceneaux never got a real shot.
  9. Whenever I think of Harold “The Show” Arceneaux, it also reminds me that I know almost nothing about the way this country’s system of higher education is set up.   I know that some states have state schools in multiple places.  Usually, those schools are identified by where they are.  For example, in New York, SUNY Binghamton is in Binghamton, SUNY Albany is in Albany, etc.  In California, UCLA is in LA, UC Santa Barbara is in Santa Barbara, etc.  Ok.  So far, so good.  Then, though, I think of Weber State.  I know that there is no “state” named “Weber,” and nothing about the name “Weber State” tells me which “state” it refers to.  I looked it up, and learned that Weber State is in a city (city?  town?  village?) named Ogden, in Utah.  If anyone can explain how a school in Ogden, Utah winds up with the name Weber State, I’m interested in hearing from you.
  10. At this time of year, I feel like we should have a national holiday so people can stop what they’re doing and watch hoops.  If I had a vote, I’d vote to call it Harold “The Show” Arceneaux Day.

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