There's a lot of context around the recent ESPN documentary of Michigan's Fab Five, which aired Sunday. The documentary itself is riveting, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own with the comments from Fab Five member, Jalen Rose, who currently works as an ESPN analyst. (Also of note, Rose was an executive producer on the documentary.) If you don't have any background on this, basically here is your Cliff's Notes: ESPN aired a documentary about how Michigan's Fab Five influenced the culture -- basketball and otherwise -- during their time at Michigan in the early 90's.
Rose's comment within the documentary is as follows: "I hated Duke and I hated everything Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn't recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms."
OK ... so ... that was Rose talking about what he felt like when he was 17 years old. But he hasn't exactly backed away from the statement in the days since the documentary aired. What we're left with is a swirl of controversy (as well as a very interesting cultural subject) that has circled the NBA and mainstream in the last three days. This isn't an entirely new idea, stereoptyping black players who don't necessarily fit into the traditional stereotype of black players, but it's been interesting because Rose's comments were so straight forward and were regarding such a popular culture time (early 90's basketball, Fab Five, NCAA, etc).
Earlier today Rose Tweeted the following: "For those MOANING about how something or someone was portrayed in the doc note that it was FRAMED from 1991-93 not 2011 #quit crying." And then a minute later this: "I'm not speaking on what the players have to say ... I didn't say anything in the doc that I didn't say to the players FACE #fact."
All of this relates to the 76ers because starting power forward Elton Brand, of course, attended and starred for Duke for two seasons, until 1999. First, since this story has such legs, here are two links for everyone. First, former Duke star Grant Hill wrote an open letter to the New York Times, responding to Rose's comments. You can find Hill's letter here: Hill. But if you don't prefer to navigate away, here's this sentence that sums up Hill's feelings: "It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a bitch and worse, calling all black players at Duke “Uncle Toms” and, to some degree, disparaging my parents for their education, work ethic and commitment to each other and to me. I should have guessed there was something regrettable in the documentary when I received a Twitter apology from Jalen before its premiere."
Another pertinent link is centered around Brand himself, who had an email exchange with a fellow Duke student when he chose to leave school early to enter the NBA draft. You can find that exchange here: Brand.
All of this leading into the following: I caught up with Brand before tonight's game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Here's what he said about Rose's documentary comments, as well as his follow-up Tweet that "I didn't say anything in the doc that I didn't say to the players FACE."
Elton on his reaction to Rose's comment: "You know, I just know that it sounded kind of ignorant, but at that time he's 17 years old, that's how a lot of young adults are. I know people from where I was from felt the same way, you know? But I knew it wasn't true and guys using those words are kind of harsh: sellout or Uncle Tom. Just because their parents stay together or worked hard? That doesn't make sense."
Elton on whether Rose has actually expressed this belief to his "FACE": "It was a difference in cultures. Duke was a prestigious school and Michigan, well it's pretty academically sound itself, so, you know what I mean? But I think that was just the rivalry, he might have said that on the court to those guys and he definitely felt that way and if that's his opinion, then that's how he felt."
Have you felt that has been a battle for you your whole career: having a "good rap" and how that might be viewed?
"I love it. I love it. I really wish I did grow up in an affluent background, I really wish I did. You know what I mean? It would have been easier on my mom, easier on my family. For any race or culture, that's nothing to look down upon."
Do you see how certain factors (following rules, being on time, etc.), if you twist it around, can be viewed as selling out?
"Right, being affluent, being on time, trying to get education. But it's nothing to be looked down upon. At all."
Here's the take from after tonight's 104-94 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Andre Iguodala (right knee chondromalacia, irritation under the knee cap) was in the starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Iguodala was first listed as day-to-day, then game-time, then probable, and there was really little doubt about Iguodala’s status after Wednesday morning’s shoot around when Iguodala said he’d piled up treatments, hadn’t been 100 percent all season anyway, and just needed to fight through the pain. He did. What was less certain than Iguodala’s status was the 76ers ability to forget back-to-back losses and figure things out against the lowly, but occasionally surprising Clippers.
On Wednesday night, in what was playing out to be an average NBA game, an interesting, physical, emotional game broke out.
It started with a breakaway by Clippers star Blake Griffin. Sixers Jodie Meeks and Tony Battie were chasing Griffin. Meeks ran in front and swiped backward at Griffin. Battie, trailing the play slightly, looked to be wrapping up Griffin to make sure he didn't complete the play. Battie appeared to be trying to hold Griffin up, keep him from falling, but Griffin seemed to misinterpret Battie' intentions and popped off the floor like he might go after Battie. Battie was called for a flagrant foul 1 (initially it was a 2, which means automatic ejection, but it was almost immediately downgraded).
Just before the half, with the Sixers having shot fewer team free throws (11) than Griffin shot by himself (13), Doug Collins earned two technicals and was ejected from the game with 15.8 seconds remaining in the second quarter. All of this extracurricular activity seemed to spur the Sixers, who scored 30 points in the third quarter and basically turned this thing into a pseudo-blowout.
In the locker room afterward, here's what Collins and point guard Jrue Holiday said about the game.
Collins: "I sure didn't want to get ejected, but I just thought I had to stand up. I just thought I had to stand up for our guys. And they were great, they responded, talked at halftime about how important this game was ... great win, I think with this win tonight we move to sixth ... again, I felt helpless in here watching it, but I was so proud of our guys. They were tough and got a great win."
Did he feel he had to stand up because of the free throw disparity?
"I have to be careful what I say, I don't want to get fined any more money. My grandkids are already upset at me and stuff like that, so I have to be careful."
Collins then turned it over to associate head coach Michael Curry. Also of note, and quite important, with tonight's win the Sixers are tied with the New York Knicks for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Here's what Jrue said about Collins' ejection and what it meant to the team:
"I think it definitely [energized the team]. It definitely riled us up, coach took a hit for us. We got his back, too. The least we could do is win the game."
Is that what you talked about at halftime?
"Yeah, I mean, we came in energetic and enthused and, I mean, 10 minutes left and they were still doing the halftime show and we were outside ready to warm up. So, we were definitely excited to get back out there and fight for coach."
Sixers fly to Sacramento tomorrow.
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