By DAN REITER
Although I still have plenty more to learn, I pride myself on my understanding of the history of sports, specifically basketball. Whether through reading books or hearing stories from my dad, I learned a bit about that 1965-66 Texas Western (now UTEP) men’s basketball team beforehand.
In an era where civil rights was finally being obtained for African Americans, this team put out five black players in its starting lineup (and seven overall) for the NCAA title game and beat heavily favored Kentucky. Yet while I knew about the premise, it was still entertaining to see the journey of the Miners in “Glory Road.”
What I enjoyed about the movie was how it took you through multiple characters’ stories and their growth toward the big game. Instead of just focusing on coach Don Haskins or leaders Bobby Joe Hill and David Lattin, you get to see the African American players’ role, as well as some of their white teammates (especially the big one trying to dance).
As the movie runs at a pretty quick pace (take note “Raging Bull”), you really start to like these young men and somewhat understand what they went through. By the time I got to the National Championship Game I had a sense of déjà vu as the underdog keeps fighting back (like “Rocky”).
But while this was pretty entertaining, it also had some flaws with the main one it being too cheesy. A lot of things you see coming and the filmmakers try a little too hard to make it seem like the whole world was against Texas Western. Although I am sure it dealt with a lot, I do not think everyone constantly picked against the Miners in every game. I mean they were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country.
Also, while Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp may have been a stereotypical Southerner and racist, was he really that big of a jerk to Haskins?
And for any movie based on a true story, you have to take it with a grain of salt because plenty will be dramatized to make it more entertaining. It did seem like the producers and director did their homework, but I did a little research after the film to be clear on some things. The movie implies that it is Haskins’ first year and you see all of the black players come in at the same time, inferring that they are freshmen. Neither of which were true.
Also, why did they never show their Final Four matchup? I mean I understand not showing every tournament game, and the Kansas matchup was the most dramatic, going double overtime in an Elite Eight win. But at least some mention of the victory over Utah would have been nice. In fact they don’t really recap any of the NCAA Tournament run, making it confusing on when the Kansas game took place.
When it’s all said and done, “Glory Road” was exactly what it’s supposed to be: an uplifting and entertaining movie about an inspiring true story. Sure it has some flaws and maybe I am naïve about what actually happened but I would definitely watch it again. It really gets you immersed in what makes college basketball special as well.
Here’s to another entertaining sports movie.
Contact Dan Reiter at firstname.lastname@example.org