by Bradford Brooks
This year will mark the 52 anniversary of The 1966 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game between Texas Western and Kentucky that featured the first title game featuring an all-black starting lineup against an all white roster. Texas Western became the first team to ever start and win a NCAA Championship Game after starting five black players. The Miners defeated the Wildcats 72-65.
52 years later, The decision by Texas Western Head Coach, Don Haskins, has now transformed college basketball forever. Looking back at this matchup between Haskins and Kentucky Wildcats head coach, Aldolph Rupp, basketball was played very differently from the way it is today.
1.There were no 3-point line.
2. There wasn’t that many African American players.
In 1966 the Miners consisted of seven African Americans: Bobby Joe Hill, Orsten Artis, Willie Worsley, Willie Cager, Nevil Shed, Harry Flournoy, and David Lattin. While some southern white campuses desegregated and blacks could attend classes, they were still usually excluded from team sports. No major white institution in the South or Southwest recruited them for their basketball talents. The University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), then named Texas Western College, changed the face of collegiate athletics forever.
In 2006, the movie Glory Road, depicting the significance of this game, was released. The following year, the team was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. This Victory by the Miners substantially helped make it possible for black athletes to gain their educations at major universities, especially in the deep South.
Recently, Fox news host, Laura Ingraham, responded to critical comments that NBA stars Kevin Durant and Lebron James uttered regarding President Donald Trump.
“Must they run their mouths like that?”, said Ingraham.”This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. Keep the political commentary to yourself. Or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”
It seems as if Ingraham does not remember this Texas Western team. Defying the current political climate in order to enact positive change has always created fair results and this Texas Western team is just one glaring example.
“Shut up and dribble” is the equivalent to Coach Haskins starting an all white roster because he doesn’t want the controversy of starting the best five players on his roster.
The 1966 Texas Western Team changed the landscape of college basketball not only with their athletic ability but with their courage as well. They had the bravery to defy the “shut up and dribble” mentality and now they are inspiring another generation to duo the same.