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GLORY ROAD

The True Story Behind Glory Road
In 1965, on the heels of the landmark Civil Rights Act passed by Congress, American sports were on the cusp of change—but they needed a bold catalyst. Basketball in particular was quickly gaining in popularity, speeding up and shifting in style, especially as new celebrity players such as Wilt Chamberlain were changing the face of the NBA. Yet there remained the question of finding the new talent that would fuel the game's future. The truth was that college basketball, like other collegiate activities, was still mired in unjust policies of segregation and racial inequality—and opportunities were still being denied to some of the country's most thrilling and undiscovered athletic talents.

Don Haskins, who was just another tough-talking, hard-driving high-school basketball coach, seized the opportunity to fulfill his personal quest to become a champion when Texas Western hired him as their coach. To create a team with the greatest chance at victory, Haskins believed he should recruit the best raw talent he could—no matter what their race, background or life story.

As early as the late 1950s Texas Western University (now renamed University of Texas at El Paso) began to offer athletic scholarships to a limited number of African American players. In the 1960s, that policy was kicked into high gear by Haskins, who, despite being a complete unknown, came to Texas Western ready to prove himself as a coach of unique vision.

Searching for authentic talent and the hunger to win, Haskins aggressively recruited in a color-blind fashion, heading into the inner cities of Detroit and New York, where basketball was still a hotly contested, up-tempo street game. Ultimately, Haskins forged an integrated team that was, in a rare change for a Southern university, predominantly black. Once he had assembled his explosively talented but inexperienced team, Haskins drove his athletes with his notoriously tough but heartfelt coaching methods to give every game—and every challenging situation in their lives—their all.

In 1966, Haskin's and the team's brutally hard work began to pay off big-time. In an incredible season of victories, the Miners won 27 games and lost just one, the same record as their equally fierce rivals in the NCAA championships: the all-white University of Kentucky Wildcats. As the championship game got under way, in front of packed stands and a national television audience, Haskins made a decision that would alter everything: he chose to play an all-black starting lineup. Though the Miners were considered a long shot, their tenacious rebounds, precision shooting and unflagging spirit spurred them to a victory so stirring that no one who saw it would ever forget it.

The amazing triumph did more than excite the fans. It helped shift the national perception of African-American athletes and bring about the widespread desegregation of college sports. In turn, the desegregation of sports helped to spread greater equality throughout American society. Haskins, who continued to be an inspirational and winning coach, became a hero. Admired by his peers for his courage and his larger-than-life personality, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Yet few people today know the story of Don Haskins and the dream-come-true NCAA victory—a story that producer Jerry Bruckheimer felt was one of the great classics of American history when he first heard about it years ago from NBA star Pat Riley. When Bruckheimer had the opportunity to obtain the rights to Haskins' story, he was thrilled to bring this largely unknown tale of courage and grit to the screen.

"What's so interesting about Don Haskins is that he wasn't looking to make any kind of statement. He simply was driven to win,” says Bruckheimer. "Yet in making winning his priority, he changed history. Prior to Haskins' heartfelt dec

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