Skip to content

Jalen Rose: ‘I hated Duke. They only recruited black players who were Uncle Toms’

Mar 8, 2011, 11:38 AM EDT


They’re college basketball’s most talked about team that never won anything, known as the Fab Five, Michigan’s 1991 recruiting class which included Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, Chris Webber and Juwan Howard. Interesting to see that 18 years later, they still harbor some bitterness over what they weren’t able to accomplish. With special acrimony still reserved for Duke. Rose, King and Jackson appeared on ESPN’s First Take this morning to discuss 30 for 30’s documentary on the Fab Five that will air on Sunday.

About midway through the First Take segment, they played a clip from the documentary in which Rose says:

“For me, Duke was personal. I hated Duke. And I hated everything I felt Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.”

Asked about the comment, Rose didn’t exactly backtrack, but elaborated:

“Well, certain schools recruit a typical kind of player whether the world admits it or not. And Duke is one of those schools. They recruit black players from polished families, accomplished families. And that’s fine. That’s okay. But when you’re an inner-city kid playing in a public school league, you know that certain schools aren’t going to recruit you. That’s one. And I’m okay with it. That’s how I felt as an 18-year-old kid.”

See the First Take interview video here.

Hard to know where to start here. First, obviously you’re not “okay with it,” because if you were you wouldn’t still sound so bitter. For their parts, King and Jackson agreed, Jackson saying that he appreciates now “what [Duke] has accomplished,” but he still hates them.

Looks like an interesting documentary. The Fab Five brought a “hip-hop flavor” to the game and changed it in many ways, but never won a Big Ten or national championship. Ironically, they’re probably best known for Webber’s phantom time out call against North Carolina in 1993, and a huge NCAA rules scandal that resulted a few years later in the firing of coach Steve Fisher and several sanctions against the school.

I’m not even going to get into the sadness of Rose playing the “Uncle Tom” card. That’s just beneath you, Jalen, in so many ways.

Jalen Rose: ‘I Hated Duke. I Felt Like They Only Recruited Black Players That Were Uncle Toms.’ [SportsGrid]

  1. henryd3rd - Mar 8, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    What up with Rose? I could somewhat understand it if he were he a Tarheel; but the brother didn’t even attend North Carolina and yet he harbors so much animosity towards Duke. He was from Detroit and he played for Michigan.

    He must be harboring a lot of pent up hate and anger? Why else would he allow something so inflammatory to come out in an interview? I can see this backfiring on him and I’m sure he’ll regret making those comments.

    Abraham Lincoln said it correctly, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”.

    • cur68 - Mar 8, 2011 at 9:11 PM

      Hank3; I think that was Sam Johnson that gets credit for that quote. As for the rest; I agree.

      • henryd3rd - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:21 AM

        Does it really matter who this quote may be attributed? Rose opened himself up to ridicule and I am sure the powers that be at ESPN may have wished those comments ended up on the cutting room floor?

  2. natedawg321 - Mar 8, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    It’s just a part of the traditional black community where being good at school was known “trying to be white”.

    Since Duke is a school that has a higher academic minimum than most D1 basketball schools, it’s pool of eligible players will always include those who did very very well at high school.

    • henryd3rd - Mar 8, 2011 at 2:53 PM

      And I might add that this the way it should be with all institutions of higher learning. Unfortunately the all mighty dollar rules college athletics and the powers that be will ignore most student-athletes educational short comings as long as he or she excels on the playing fields, courts and etc. Ohio State’s Jim Tressel is a prime example.

  3. goforthanddie - Mar 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    How many titles have those polished players brought to Duke? How many did he bring home to Michigan?


  4. Cold weather Stupid Bowls should be banned! - Mar 8, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Simply put Mr Rose – your SAT score and lack of high school academics lead to Coach K ignoring your court talent. Duke has high academic standards, black, white or what ever color one may be – blockheads like Rose would never qualify to get in there no matter how good they are with a basketball.

    The Fab Five was billed as all that but in reality, they were a bunch of immature head cases who could never put it together because they played as 5 individuals instead of a team. One of their best crowning moments of under-achievement was when Webber called that time out and didn’t have any left against the ‘Heels.

  5. piepinky - Mar 8, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    I really hate the use of Uncle Tom in a derogatory manner. Read the book! Uncle Tom was an incredibly strong, courageous character that fought for others, and stood up to his oppressors. That is quite a compliment to me.

  6. stinkfingers - Mar 8, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    I think I’m going to hate Michigan because the only white guys that are recruited there are wiggers.

  7. bushytop - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    jalen’s only speaking to the reality of what duke symbolizes, right or wrong. unless your pops played running back for the cowboys, prolly weren’t getting looked at by duke. changed a bit after coach k sandbagged gaudet in the mid-90s, but don’t think the sentiment still exists.

    the only blockhead felons that duke let in play lacrosse.

    • ezwriter69 - Mar 14, 2011 at 8:39 PM

      Hey genius, the lacrosse players were cleared of all charges and the whore who accused them has been convicted of felonies three more times since then… what a tool you are…

  8. mcgee1234 - Mar 9, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    I understand what jrose is saying: He’s implying that blacks that are recruited by and attend duke are house niggas. (Now don’t get bent because i used that term i can use it and whites can’t, at least u better not use it publicly.) Maybe not all, but some are. But the same argument can be made for those that attend other integrated/all black institutions of higher learning. Is this thing w/in the black community that exist between black folks. There are certain folks that are pro black and there are those that are integrationist/assimilationist and they’re considered, by pro blacks, to be house niggas. Educational theorist call it rival epistemology: two ways of knowing the world or two ways of existing in the world as either smart or cool, as if they were mutually exclusive, as if being one rules out being the other. Now jrose may not want to admit this but if one has obtained a certain level of ed and one works for/within the establishment then one is considered by certain black folks as…a house nigga

    • psousa1 - Mar 14, 2011 at 4:34 PM

      Explain to me – what is the the establishment?

  9. biggwalt - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    It never ceases to amaze me the criticism that the Fab Five always get. Particularly that they never won a title. Let’s be realistic here, only one team wins a National title each year. 64 teams make the NCAAs and a couple hundred don’t even make the tournament. As Freshman and Sophomores, the Fab Five made the finals two years in a row. They were one game from the final four as Juniors, but lost (remember Webber had already left for the pros). Contrary to the prior comment, they played very great team ball. Had they stayed together as a unit for four years, they very well would have captured the title. We will never see a Freshman and Sophomore dominated team accomplish what they did, EVER, so stop criticizing them for losing to veteran Duke and North Carolina Teams.

    • ezwriter69 - Mar 14, 2011 at 8:41 PM

      Big Ten title? Nope… none of those either… as Rose said himself, they were bigger than the scoreboard… they didn’t CARE that they didn’t win, and still don’t. Style, that’s all that mattered, and probably part of why none of them ever won anything, anywhere.

    • astrozac - Mar 15, 2011 at 1:13 AM

      Umm… Florida did in 06 with 5 Sophmores… Granted Duke had Shane Battier and Nate James in 2001, but in their rotation were 3 Sophomores and 2 Freshman…And Syracuse in 2003 were led by Freshman and underclassmen.. And if Freshman could have played 25 years before, I don’t think Texas Western would have won a national title in 1966…

      • astrozac - Mar 15, 2011 at 1:20 AM

        ^ I was wrong Florida only had 4 sophomores and 1 Junior…

  10. progress2011 - Mar 11, 2011 at 1:31 AM

    The history of this nation and 400+ years of slavery and oppression speak for itself !

    When someone is brave enough to face the impending backlash/ blackballing by speaking the truth, white America is shocked at the accusation……HILARIOUS !!!

    The atrocities committed in this nation over the 400+ years is equal to what Germany did that led to WWII ( if not worse ).

    The North Carolina/ Duke region is still a stronghold of racism and oppression…visit it if you are unsure! Coach K and the Duke University are only practicing the historical legacy their racist forefathers bestowed upon them.

    Minority athletes should take pride in attending schools of higher learning, obtaining an education BUT getting drafted into the NBA. As most Duke athletes don’t transcend to the pro level at all or are very mediocre at best !

    • tominma - Mar 14, 2011 at 7:00 PM

      Many of the country’s best players couldnt cut the academics at Duke! So, if course they dont often get the very best players! But they STILL win!!! And they dont do too badly in the NBA either: Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Shane Battier, Grant Hill, Corey Magette, Dohntay Jones,Chris Duhon… Those guys would make a pretty good NBA team huh??

  11. latrobe21 - Mar 14, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    and neither John Thompson or his punk son ever recruited a white kid to Georgetown. Doesn’t that bother you, Jaylen?

  12. truthplainandsimple - Mar 14, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    It’s funny how people who aren’t racially and/or economically/oppressed can tell racially and economically oppressed people how they feel. Some of you are and are STILL blinded. But hey, some slaves loved and never wanted to part with their slave masters. *shrugs* Most of you on this board are just plain dumb. If you think that those players are recruited to Duke are all NCAA and SAT sound, you’re really misinformed. Ask Jim Tressel. But, nothing is going to happen to him or Ohio State because there’s too much money involved. If something DOES happen, it will be as soon as he stops winning. Same with North Carolina football. The media feeds you these biased opinions as news and you accept them all without fact checking and drawing your own decisions off of sound sense (because common sense isn’t common). Jalen Rose gave his take on how he FELT (past tense you idots) as an 18 year old from a single parent, poor background. Duke recruiting mostly white–NOT ALL–players from a middle to upper class background is a FACT. ROSE, WEBBER (who is from a good family and went to the same HS as SHANE BATTIER and was an honor roll student), HOWARD, JACKSON and KING went to Michigan (who is nationally recognized on many accounts for their Academics) and we’re pegged as THUGS, HOODLUMS, and other racial code words with negative connotations to the opposite Duke (white, rich, and everything good with the world). Yet, these KIDS did nothing wrong but choose to maintain and express their cultural identity and take money. Which is nothing wrong to me. It’s against the rules because the NCAA doesn’t mind profitifng off of the talent of these young people but, they can’t because they’re “amateurs”. RIGHT. Duke is playing is China or Japan next year and they’re amateurs. You people are God awful dumb. The stupidity of most of you tie “law” and “right” together as if their one in the same. That doesn’t make sense, given the ways of the world and history. But, I bet most of you don’t really know history besides what you were told and not what you researched as FACT. Its just like how you idiots think its the player’s fault for the NFL lockout, EVEN THOUGH the owner have been PLANNING to lock the players out and will not open their books to prove they are losing money. That’s like paying child support and not being able to check if the child is yours. THAT MAKES NO SENSE. The owner CLEARLY wanted and planned to make a money grab through cutting their pay and making them work more. This is the NFL. With as many injuries and the poor physical condition that former players are left in, that’s incredibly heartless. Especially, since they wont even PROVE they are losing money. But you think its the players fault–the people giving their bodies every sunday for your entertainment. BUT, most of you are fooled by the media’s bias. It’s sickning to see how stupid people are.

    • borderline1988 - Mar 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      To be honest, after reading through your rant, I still don’t have any clue regarding where you stand on this issue.

      “Economically oppressed”? What does that mean? (Well, I guess I kind of know what you’re referring to, but it’s total BS. More like a lame excuse.

  13. latrobe21 - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    @ truthplainandsimple

    Please use proper English, more advanced logic and cohesive paragraphs in your next rant. Thank you.