Wed Mar 16 03:15pm EDT
Grant Hill heard Jalen Rose's comments that black Duke players were "Uncle Toms." Instead of lashing out on Twitter or giving a quick television interview defending himself, the former Duke standout wrote a scathing, yet measured, retort on a New York Times blog that firmly puts Rose and his Fab Five teammates in check and defends the honor of Hill's family, teammates and university.
Rose made the statements during the ESPN documentary "The Fab Five," which he co-produced. The former Michigan star said he and his teammates hated Duke and implied that they resented the black players on the team for selling out their race.
In a response posted Thursday, Hill slammed Rose's comments. He began by chastising Rose for the "vitriolic" Uncle Tom comment, which Hill figured was meant to include any black man who came from a successful family like his own. Hill detailed the story of his grandfather, an illiterate day laborer who was taught to read by his wife and set out to give his son, Grant's father, a better life through education.
Hill makes no apologies for his family's success and equates his parent's drive with that of Rose's mother, who worked hard to make sacrifices for Jalen when he was growing up in inner-city Detroit.
To hint that those who grew up in a household with a mother and father are somehow less black than those who did not is beyond ridiculous. All of us are extremely proud of the current Duke team, especially Nolan Smith. He was raised by his mother, plays in memory of his late father and carries himself with the pride and confidence that they instilled in him.
Hill later admonishes Rose for his careless words and advises against using phrases so frivolously. His point throughout is that it's as stereotypical and demeaning to call him an "Uncle Tom" as it was to call Jalen Rose a "thug."
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.
He closes by defending Duke and taking a beautiful parting shot at the talented, but overhyped, Michigan teams of the early '90s:
I am proud of my family. I am proud of my Duke championships and all my Duke teammates. And, I am proud I never lost a game against the Fab Five.
Grant Hill writes a comeback almost as well as he plays basketball.
For as good as the column is, it seemed unnecessary. I don't profess to know what Rose thinks now, but his other statements in the doc suggest he doesn't still think Grant Hill or Nolan Smith is an Uncle Tom. That's what he thought then, back in 1991. The brash player made no apologies for what he believes as a cocky 18-year-old, but time appeared to have dulled the chip on his shoulder he felt toward the well-off players at Duke. That's backed up in Hill's post, which mentions that Rose tweeted him an apology and has done interviews in which he says he admires the Hill family.
So far nobody has apologized to Christian Laettner, who was on the receiving end of some less-provocative insults in the doc . Don't hold your breath on that one.