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Jan18
Glory Road Story is Glorious
By mere coincidence I watched the movie Glory Road on Monday evening, MLK Day. The subject matter and timeline of the story provided a different lens to the racial issues of the mid-sixties and those that brought positive change to the situation.

glory-road.jpgGlory Road follows the path of Texas Western University (currently UTEP) basketball team in racially charged 1966 and is based on the true-story of Texas Western coach Don Haskins, who was the first coach to deploy on all-black starting line-up for a college basketball team in the NCAA national championships.

It is an inspiring story of courage and leadership. The movie has received mixed reviews and rated 6.1 on a scale of ten but still was the top box office draw.

More importantly than the how the story was portrayed by Hollywood is the story itself. Texas Western was a small school from West Texas with no basketball tradition, an unproven coach and an all-black starting team. It was an underdog all year long but overcame the unimaginable when it not only challenged but defeated the reigning elite all-white powers like Duke and Kentucky.
The Miners accomplished the unimaginable under the discipline and tough-love leadership of Don Haskins. Haskins, a gruff former girls high-school coach who came to Texas Western in 1961 chose a path that was certainly innovative when he began recruiting black players from as far away as New York and Indiana. He just wanted to win. But his drive to win led to an historic season and eventual, albeit unlikely national championship.

In 1966, Haskins, a white coach at a southwestern school, had assembled an integrated team (seven blacks, four whites, one Latino) that was talented and disciplined enough to post a 27-1 record and win the national championship.

Through this one season, the Texas Western coaches and players rewrote the conventions and attitudes of college and professional basketball and changed the racial landscape forever. According to NBA coach Pat Riley, who starred on that Kentucky team, Haskins and his team wrote the "emancipation proclamation of 1966."

Credit goes to Haskins whose vision and passion to win overcame the stereotypes and social pressures of the day. There was no precedence for coaching a team of such racial mixture. No guidelines or experience in this situation for players or coach. The team came together and accomplished something historic for the love of a game. It’s impact on the fabric of the American culture can hardly be measured.

3 Comments/Trackbacks




Hal, one bit of trivia from our alma mater: Leonard Black, a successful entrepreneur and director of the Utah Entreprenuer Center at the University of Utah, was a player on Utah's final four team in 1966--which lost to Texas Western.

ddt

» Historical Kobe Bryant from LeaderNotes
Is LeaderNotes just about basketball? It seems like it lately. I’ll admit, the past week has had a round ball influence. But the inspiring stories of “Glory Road”  and the 183 win streak of the Brea Ladycats  were really abo... [Read More]

In an early season game, coach Haskins found his team trailing by a substantial amount coming out of half-time. He had pushed his team to adhere to 'proven' disciplined college basketball play. This wasn't working since the other team was outplaying them with fundamentals. Finally, Haskins star guard pleaded with Haskins to allow them to play their type of game; flashy brash basketball. Haskins following decision to abandon 'his' gameplan and allow his players to play to their strengths is a great example of leadership. Instead of demanding conformity to his priciples he had the humility and courage to realize his plan was failing and to listen to his team.

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