A 19 year-old Jalen Rose, University of Michigan guard.
Tell ‘em how you really feel son!
This comment came out last week during the press run up to ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series chronicling the University of Michigan’s Fab 5.* I wasn’t a fan of the Fab 5 on the court. UNC is my squad, that’s just the way it is. I do appreciate the style and dare I say it “swagger” that the five freshmen brought to the court. ** (The long shorts and black socks were just dope.) Upon reading Rose’s comments I thought they were kind of harsh but I also realized that A) A man is entitled to his opinions. B) These are the words of a 19 year-old kid. C) I’m a Carolina fan so with that being said I really dislike the Duke Blue Devils. I was ambivalent when Duke played Michigan because I didn’t have a dog in the fight. ***
For the purposes of this blog I’m going to focus on “B”. Jalen Rose was 19 when he initially thought and said these things about the black players at Duke. The comments were short-sighted, hateful, not clearly thought out (Duke was the second choice of Rose’s teammate Chris Webber), and unfair to Duke’s black players. Rose acknowledged that his age at the time played into his comments, he would say this in a recent USA Today article.
“This is the reality: As a 38-year-old man, I respect the kind of athlete they recruit. They like to recruit well-to-do black guys that come from well-accomplished families that they understand are going to represent their program a certain way. They’re not interested necessarily in developing a kid from an urban area to try to teach how to be a young man.”
Growing up puts a lot of things into perspective doesn’t it? Rose continued,
“It’s not because I don’t respect Coach K: I think he’s a fantastic coach. It’s just that everybody know there’s a stigma to where you sign to go to school. In the early 1990s, if you signed to go play at the University of Miami, University of Michigan, or the (UNLV) Runnin’ Rebels, you were considered, I would say, on the ‘B’ side. If you went to Notre Dame, Indiana, Duke, you were on the ‘A’ side.”
This blog is not about basketball. It’s about saying things as a child or teenager that you don’t quite understand. It’s about saying things that you would regret as time passed. Being a teenager is probably the combination of the best and worst times of a person’s life. Rose’s comments that he made as a 19 year-old got me thinking about some of the flat-out asinine things I said as a teenager. Turns out I said a lot of dumb, ignorant, and ill-informed things but one comment I made stood out to me and to this day I’m a mad at myself for being such an a**. Around the age of 15 I once made the following statement to my friends, “I think all of the gay people in the country should be rounded up and taken to Kansas or Nebraska. Then a wall should be built around the state.”****
Still apologizing to Jesus about that one.
I don’t remember the actual context in which I made this statement but I damn sure remember saying it. Like many teenage boys my friends and I were fond of making jokes about gays and homosexuals. Sadly, I’ve never bore any ill will against gays or any other group of people for that matter; I simply was raised better than that. So with Jalen Rose’s comments about Duke bouncing in between my ears, a ton of hindsight, and realizing that I simply should have known better I would like to apologize for my stupidity and cruelty.
With that being said I would like to go all Marshall Mathers and give folks a chance to clean out their closets. What was the absolute worst thing that you’ve ever said about someone or some group of people that you came to regret as you grew older? How long did it take before you realized that you were dead wrong in your thoughts, comments, and actions? Have you ever told anyone what you said? This is your chance to let it all out folks so don’t just leave me dangling about in the wind with nothing but my regret.
Vaya con Dios.
*I haven’t watched the Fab 5 documentary just yet. It’s in my DVR queue so that’s on tap for this evening.
**I promise that I WILL NOT use the word “swagger” again.
***I’m not a practitioner of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” style rhetoric. “The enemy of my enemy is just someone I’m going to have to crush later on.
****The level of meanness and cruelty that can be put forth by a teenager is only rivaled by the level of vulnerability and weakness of the very same creatures. No wonder teenagers are nuts.