Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jalen Rose Meets Dan Quayle

If you haven't had a chance to watch ESPN's new documentary "Fab Five" check it out. 

The film takes you back twenty years, when the University of Michigan landed five of the nation's top basketball recruits, then became the first team to start five freshman in a game. 

The Fab Five were brash.  They were bold.  Muhammad Ali in tank tops and baggy shorts.  In fact, Ali turns out to be a follower of the team. 

And like Ali, they backed it up. 

The Fab Five went to two consecutive Final Fours, losing both times in the national championship game.

The film was produced by Fab Five member Jalen Rose, who went on to a long NBA career and currently works as an analyst for ESPN. 

It's a captivating film, mainly for the raw, unedited emotion displayed by the participants.

Especially Jalen Rose. 

Rose and his teammates have been criticized for disparaging remarks about the Duke Blue Devils, particularly Grant Hill. 

No ambiguity here.  The Fab Five hates Duke and all that it stands for.  To them Michigan is "street," Duke "elite."

In Rose's eyes Duke would never touch guys like him because "they only wanted Uncle Tom's."

Rose went on to say that he was jealous of Grant Hill, who grew up privileged in a two parent household while he was raised by a single mother.

Some felt Rose should have explained his feelings today or edited them.  I disagree, as the film was about 1992, not 2011. 

Grant Hill then responded to Rose's comments:

As I read Hill's remarks, one thought came to mind:  He should have let it go.

When I watched "Fab Five" and listened to Jalen Rose,  I heard the voice of a wounded child.  I heard the voice of a man who, despite having both financial and personal success, would probably give it away.

A child who would give anything to have a Dad.

Rose's most poignant remarks were about the father who abandoned him.  Like Hill, Rose's father, Jimmy Walker, was a professional athlete.  Hill's father, Calvin Hill, played for the Dallas Cowboys.  Walker played for three NBA teams.

But while Hill grew up with his Dad, Walker never met his son.   In fact, Rose chose to wear number 42 in high school out of spite since it was the opposite of Walker's number 24.

Enter Dan Quayle, or more recently, Mike Huckabee. 

Then Vice President Dan Quayle famously criticized TV character Murphy Brown in 1992 for having a child out of wedlock and "ignoring the importance of fathers by birthing a child alone." 

Huckabee did the same, essentially, a few weeks ago when he criticized actress Natalie Portman, who is pregnant by her fiance.

I'll leave the moralizing to the talking heads.

Here's what I know:

Dad's matter.  Men matter.  And yes, our culture often diminishes their significance. 

But men do their part also.  Huckabee refers to a "Dad deficit" of $300 billion dollars.  In Chicago this past Valentine's Day "Operation Love" resulted in the arrests of six men who collectively owe over $200,000 in child support.  Chris Rock joked years ago, "If Osama Bin Laden owed child support they would have found him by now."

Being a father does not make you a man.  I often tell my kids, "Anyone can be a father, but only special people are Dad's."  Real men cook, they clean, they are emotionally available to their children.  They teach them right from wrong.

They are there for their children.

Not having one hurts.  Just ask Jalen Rose.

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