Monday, March 21, 2011


We'll celebrate the play of light and spring green later.
First there is a matter of RACISM and clouds over College Basketball.
The Jalen Rose, Grant Hill comments
       Controversy swirls around the war of words between the two basketball players and it has seeped into the NCAA atmosphere.  In an ESPN documentary on the University of Michigan's FAB FIVE of 20 years ago, Rose referred to Duke, Coach K and Duke basketball players as Uncle Tom's.  
        Rose was trying to draw the difference between his Michigan partners and the Duke team, which by the way always beat Michigan.  Some Rose defenders now say he was just trying to draw a difference between class and not race.  Well, he used the term Uncle Tom. That is, by virtue of American history, a well worn term about racism.
        Duke's outstanding athlete, Grant Hill responded in The New York Times and rejected the idea that Coach K or his charges at Duke or even Duke as institution was racist.  Hill himself is an African American and many African Americans have attended Duke and played for Coach K.
         Here are some givens: Duke is an outstanding academic and private institution and has the ability to draw the cream of the crop.  Michigan is a public school and their athlete graduation rate is significantly less than Duke.  Rose may have been trying to talk of the difference between inner city, less advantaged urban youth vs people like Hill who came from a more solid and affluent background.  But he used a race term. He should have said what he meant.
        I was a news director at an Indianapolis television station when Rose played for the Pacers.  You may remember the brawl in Detroit, when Rose and others waded into the stands. At the time Rose was also trying to getting a rap record career started. Rose had a temper issue and was not a paragon of virtue.  That Pacer team had many run ins with the law and some of them were simply thugs.  
        The FAB FIVE team he played on at Michigan was stripped of it's wins because of NCAA violations.  Contrast that with Duke's program and the reputation of Grant Hill.
         My point is-there is a difference between the lives of Hill and Rose.  They are both African Americans, but they come from vastly different cultural settings and history.
There are wide differences in the way African American youth, or all American youth, are raised.  Rose's use of the term Uncle Tom was wrong.  If a coach has a choice between recruiting well educated, or academic question marks, or between a young man from a solid home or a kid raised in less, or between a guy who evinces an understanding of rules, work ethic, team work and discipline or a "show time/face time" player, it seems clear to me whom to choose.
         Each coach and each program has choices to make. I am highly suspect and have little respect for those programs that have placed such a value on athleticism and winning that they have brought a dishonor or an odor to NCAA basketball. There is one coach in particular who has a history of leaving schools broken by NCAA violations. That mind set can destroy what should be a game for college students.
        Coach K at Duke is the second most winning coach in history. You can be an honorable man and be a winner.  His mentor, Bob Knight, who had his demons with anger control and, to my thinking emotional maturity, is the most winning coach in history.  Bob Knight had one of the highest academic standards, graduation rates and cleanest programs in the history of all college sport.  You don't have to be a street thug to succeed in the NCAA.  And to imply that if you aren't from a disadvantaged inner city environment, or that coaches don't recruit there, you are an uncle Tom is a stupid thing to say.  
         Clark Kellogg, who I have known since his days as an Indiana Pacer, made a point on this weekend's telecast.  "There are huge diversities in any group, racial, social or economic.  It is time to move on."  Rose should have been more temperate in his comments, but we don't need to give him anymore airtime or ink on this.  
      There is a special vibrancy of green that follows the California rains.

Look at the difference in luminosity in just a few minutes.

It will be an especially vivid spring this year, due to the extraordinary rain we've had in what was predicted to be a dry winter.  I've recorded over 30 inches in our gage on
the ridge top.
The water has been flowing.

and more rain is forecast.
See you down the trail.

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