Home > Basketball > Grant Hill’s Classy Defense of his School and his Family…

Grant Hill’s Classy Defense of his School and his Family…

Steve Nash is obviously my favourite player.  It’s not really even in question.  It’s the style of his game, which resembles mine, but – you know – with actual skill.  It’s that he’s not just Canadian, but Victorian (What?  How many Hall of Fame athletes is a 300,000 person city in BC bound to produce?).  It’s also that he’s smart.  And, lets face it, it’s that he dated my sister a thousand years ago for twenty minutes (What?  How many recently drafted to the NBA basketball players have walked in your house?).  Still, if I were to question Nash’s position atop my NBA player fan-board, it would be because Grant Hill is to class what Nash is to passing.

A recent ESPN documentary, ‘The Fab Five,’ about the five precocious Michigan players who made up the greatest recruiting class in NCAA history, brought some controversy to Hill’s doorstep.  During the documentary – which in the interest of full disclosure I have not seen – former Michigan player Jalen Rose referred to Hill as an “Uncle Tom.”  This term obviously means almost nothing to me, but I’ve now heard from enough African American pundits – namely Mike Wilbon and Michael Smith – who believe this to be one of, if not the, worst insults one African American can make to another.  Rose made the remark back in the early 90s, when he was with Michigan, however Hill’s complaint is that at no point in the documentary – that Rose produced – did he distance himself from the remark.

This morning Hill responded with an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times,

In his garbled but sweeping comment that Duke recruits only “black players that were ‘Uncle Toms,’ ” Jalen seems to change the usual meaning of those very vitriolic words into his own meaning, i.e., blacks from two-parent, middle-class families. He leaves us all guessing exactly what he believes today.

Since the documentary aired, Rose has tweeted that those were feelings that he had then, however Hill clearly feels that is not sufficient.  He proceeds to write eloquently and passionately defending himself and his upbringing.  It is a shame that Hill felt compelled to defend having two hard working, committed parents, but what interested me was the reasoned beauty of his response,

This is part of our great tradition as black Americans. We aspire for the best or better for our children and work hard to make that happen for them. Jalen’s mother is part of our great black tradition and made the same sacrifices for him.

It has been almost six weeks since I decided to award excellent pieces of sports writing with “The Pozie” and while I’ve read the occasional piece that struck me as good, it was not until I read Hill’s piece that I saw something which was truly excellent,

It is insulting and ignorant to suggest that men like Johnny Dawkins (coach at Stanford), Tommy Amaker (coach at Harvard), Billy King (general manager of the Nets), Tony Lang (coach of the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins in Japan), Thomas Hill (small-business owner in Texas), Jeff Capel (former coach at Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth), Kenny Blakeney (assistant coach at Harvard), Jay Williams (ESPN analyst), Shane Battier (Memphis Grizzlies) and Chris Duhon (Orlando Magic) ever sold out their race.


My mother always says, “You can live without Chaucer and you can live without calculus, but you cannot make it in the wide, wide world without common sense.” As we get older, we understand the importance of these words. Adulthood is nothing but a series of choices: you can say yes or no, but you cannot avoid saying one or the other. In the end, those who are successful are those who adjust and adapt to the decisions they have made and make the best of them.

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 then for their appearance and swagger. I wish for you the restoration of the bond that made you friends, brothers and icons.

Kudos to Hill for making such a reasoned, intelligent, elegant response to something that he found hurtful.  Many others would instead have lashed back in their pain and perpetuated the anger, but of course Grant Hill is not most people: he is a man from a strong family, a family that raised him to work hard, to use his considerable intelligence, and to remain classy and respectful of others, even in disagreement.  I want to make clear that I’m not criticizing Rose; I haven’t watched ‘The Fab Five’, I don’t know the context of the comment and the term itself has no real meaning to me personally.  Rather, I am commending Hill for writing something so purposeful and beautiful.  Those traits I just listed are all a part of what make Hill a tremendous basketball player, but more importantly, they are all traits which make him a tremendous human being.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: