The Jay Graves Report

How some brothas in Chuck Taylor’s changed the world in 1966! “March Madness”

Texas Western 1966 National Champions

I stopped by this little hole in the wall joint in the hood to get a bite to eat and to fill out my brackets in peace. Then all of a sudden these cats started arguin’ about diversity. Desmond Tutu said, “Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among us?” John F. Kennedy stood up and said, “If we cannot end our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity.” Then the great Maya Angelou shut the buildin’ down with, “It’s time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

As we kickoff  the greatest two weeks in sports, I’m reminded of the greatest game ever played. On March 19, 1966 the University of Kentucky and Texas Western University met in the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House for the national title. There was very little hype surroundin’ the game, in fact, it started at 10 p.m.! None of the major networks carried the joint, and it was televised only on a tape-delayed basis in several American cities. Director James Gartner produced the highly successful film “Glory Road” about this historical game in 2006 that made diversity stand up and say hello.

If you check out the dull grainy film closely everything is lilly white, from the crowd, to the NCAA officials, the referees, the coaches, the cheerleaders and almost all the duns on press row. High up in the nose bleed joints, boyz from Kentucky were wavin’ a Confederate flag as the Wildcats’ five white players took the floor. On some real talk, that’s what boyz did in 1966!

Well let’s keep it real of all the way 100, whichever comes 1st! Dependin’ upon where you live now duns are still wavin’ that joint. It’s nothin’ for me to pull up at a light anywhere in rural Indiana and see a boy rockin’ an extra large flag on the back of his pickup truck. But that’s neither here nor there.

Then five brothers showed up in some orange hip huggers and white Chuck Taylor’s to start for Texas Western (Now Texas El Paso). “Until that moment, at the height of the civil-rights era, no major-college team had ever started five black players in an NCAA championship game. In fact, until Texas Western coach Don Haskins did it earlier that season, no major-college team had ever started five blacks in ANY game. For the first time that night, on the edge of the Mason-Dixon Line, a major American sports championship would be played by one team that was all-white and another whose starters were entirely black.

If you haven’t seen the movie and you’re a die hard sports fan stop lyin’ to boyz that you’re a die hard sports fan playboy. No.3 Texas Western beat the No. 1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats 72-65 to win the national title. After that ball game colleges and universities all over the south and for that matter, all over the country, started flyin’ all over the country lookin’ for black players.

In 1966 white folks insisted at least one white starter was necessary for success. Boyz were still on some ole slavery type thinkin’ in saying that black athletes needed the steadyin’ hand of a white teammate. Otherwise, games would dissolve into madness and chaos.

Yep…the game HAS dissolved into the madness and chaos of boyz runnin’ and gunnin’ and duns dunkin’ at every 3rd minute that has made Sports Center and every other 24 sportin’ news channel successful. Could you imagine watchin’ a basketball game without some brothers on the floor? It would be like a boy takin’ you to McDonald’s and orderin’ a plain hamburger with nothin’ on it and the invention of fries is still 10 years away. It’s like eatin’ gumbo without seafood or eatin’ ribs that were boiled.

Now don’t get it twisted, great defense is still the key to winnin’ championships but you gotta have some spice when you’re eatin’ Big Mommas cookin’. Yes, that game in 1966, just one year before I was born, changed the landscape of basketball and the world for that matter forever. These young boyz take for granted that major college teams are predominately black now. Next time you take your kid to Micky D’s make them order that dull hamburger without the fries and ask them how much they like it.

I’m thankful that cats on the Texas Western team endured the racism of the time and pushed in the door to prove that brothers could compete and win at the highest level. We always knew it but they showed these racist clowns out here that you can’t play the game without us pimpin’! God demands diversity! If he didn’t he wouldn’t have had Mathew, John and Luke write the same story from different perspectives playboy. That’s real talk!

That demand for diversity has given way to the opportunity for other blacks to go on to college and earn degrees that for many, without sports would have been simply unattainable because of the mere cost of the education. As I look around the country at our major institutions there are so many African American athletic directors, coaches and administrators that have come up through the ranks by havin’ the opportunity to play intercollegiate athletics.

Yes, in my opinion, that was the greatest game ever played because it opened the door to greater diversity on college campuses all over this country. Schools that wanted to win were forced to recruit black players even when they resisted, but winnin’ became more important. Isn’t God good the way he’ll force your hand?

Sure, we enjoy watching our kids succeed on the athletic fields of play. However, more importantly it’s given them a sense of pride in who they are and what they can accomplish if they are passionate about what they’re doing. Many times we just look at sports as something that’s fun to play but in my opinion it’s more than that. I wrote a Hot Joint entitled “Why All Children Should Play Sports” that talks about the lessons that are learned through these trivial games and how sports can transform lives.

Who would have ever thought that a basketball game in 1966 would have changed the world? Well… it did and I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful to all of those people that came before me that endured the bigotry in this country and were still able to succeed. It’s inspirin’ to know that even when the odds are stacked against you God will make a way if you would just trust and believe in him. Thanks again. Now lets play ball!!!! MARCH MADNESS IS HERE!!!!!

Playas Thesaurus: 

1) Dun: noun – the person in question, dude, guy, etc. It’s whoever I’m talkin’ about and its non-gender specific.

The caption under the photo is real talk today!