What exactly will it take for this Jalen Rose-Grant Hill nuttiness to go away? In case you didn’t get in at the beginning, on March 13, ESPN premiered “The Fab Five,” a documentary about Michigan’s 1991 quintet of freshmen still regarded as the greatest recruiting class ever: Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. The team went to the NCAA championship game twice, losing both times.
In the documentary, for which he was executive producer, Rose comments that he thought all black players who went to Duke were “Uncle Toms” and reveals “I was jealous” of Grant Hill and other players who came from solid two-parent families. Other members of the Fab Five express similar sentiments:
When I heard these remarks, I didn’t think twice about them – I thought Rose had made it clear he was talking about the way he felt at the time, 20 years ago, and that in fact I thought it was rather brave of him to admit to how he felt then, and now I’m not sure how or why his comments have been so misconstrued.
On March 16, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Grant Hill in which he wrote “I caution my fabulous five friends to avoid stereotyping me and others they do not know in much the same way so many people stereotyped them back them for their appearance and swagger.”
But it was a little irresponsible of Hill – and, for that matter, of the Times – to print a response that seemed to disregard the obvious, which was that Rose and his teammates, who came from, let us simply say, less privileged backgrounds, viewed the Duke players with disdain because they envied them.
This afternoon Rose, in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal‘s web site, says “Addressing the elephant in the room, comments for in the documentary regarding Duke University were taken completely out of context. I respect the success of Duke’s program and stated this was my opinion as a teenager growing up in the inner city in Detroit.”
It might have been better if the New York Times or ESPN or someone had invited both men to sit down and talk this through. Curiously, no one did. In any event, Rose had made clear twice that what he said in the documentary indicated no disrespect for either Hill or Duke.
Now, everyone, can we just drop this?