A college basketball war of words saw another day when Grant Hill responded yesterday in an op-ed to Jalen Rose's comments referring to Hill as an "Uncle Tom." Rose's comments came from the ESPN documentary The Fab Five -- which Rose helped produce -- in which he recalls how he felt about Hill two decades ago when their teams squared off. Rose is reportedly "irritated" that that section has overshadowed the rest of the documentary and has tried to clear up his remarks. Some say we should be focusing elsewhere: "the best part of the film was the reminder of how interesting the kids were when the spotlight was turned off," says Greg Stoda in The Palm Beach Post. Is it time to move on, or did Hill's comments provide new insight to this ongoing debate?
Hill is right, Rose was wrong: "Jalen Rose's stereotypical take on what constitutes a true black family is precisely what is wrong with a segment of the black population that seems fine with daddy dearest out of the picture," says George Diaz in the Orlando Sentinel. "Grant Hill is a true role model - black, white, green, or purple. Jalen Rose's true colors shine through in his words."
We know what Rose meant: "It was clear to all that these were the thoughts of these players in the past, not the present," says Selam Aster in The Atlanta Post. Rose was giving us "honesty and reflection" about how he felt then. So, "the best approach for Hill would've been to ignore it and display how he's above it all." It's not a big deal.
These issues are important to discuss: "There's no better forum than sports to examine every one of our dirty little secrets, harmful hang-ups and uncomfortable truths," says Bryan Burwell in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Good for Grant Hill. It's good to see a young black man speak so well about the nonsense of how anyone should attempt to define another man's racial identity or solidarity." While you can understand why Rose felt how he did in college, it's harder to forgive "adults who should know better" than to question another man's blackness.
Rose's remarks reflect something bigger: "Rose doesn't even pretend like this is political analysis," says Darrell Dawsey at MLive.com. And it's not really about Grant Hill at all. "If anything, Rose was referencing the sense of elitism that surrounds the Duke program, something basketball fans of all colors have griped about. Elitism doesn't play well anywhere, of course, but in black America, marked as its by a collective history of degradation and struggle, it can be pure anathema."