View Full Version : Dunking the racists "Glory Road"

Sunday, January 15th, 2006, 01:14 AM

Roger Ebert, Special to The Leader-Post
Published: Friday, January 13, 2006
'Glory Road'


3 (out of four)

- - -

Glory Road is like other sports movies, and different from all of them. It is the same in the way it shows a rookie coach with an underdog team; he finds resistance from his players at first, he imposes his system and is a merciless taskmaster, and do I have to ask you if they win the big game? This has been the formula for countless films, and Glory Road will not be the last.

But the movie is not really about underdogs and winning the big game. It's about racism in American sports, and how Coach Don Haskins and his players on the 1965-66 basketball team from Texas Western University made a breakthrough comparable to that moment when Jackie Robinson was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers. In Texas at that time, we learn, college basketball teams had been integrated, but there was an "informal rule" that you never played more than one black player at home, two on the road, or three if you were behind.

After Texas Western won the 1966 NCAA championship with an all-black team, defeating an all-white Kentucky team coached by the legendary Adolph Rupp, the rules were rewritten, and modern college and professional basketball began. Haskins and his team wrote the "emancipation proclamation of 1966," says coach Pat Riley in an interview during the end credits. He starred on the defeated Kentucky team.

Glory Road tells its story not through personalities but in terms of the issues involved. It uses the basketball season as a backdrop to the story of how Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) inherited a weak, losing team at Texas Western and set out to recruit gifted black players from the schools and playgrounds of the North. The school's administration and some of the rich boosters were not very happy with him, until the team started to win. Strange how that works, isn't it?

Do i hear Propoganda?