On March 16th and 17th ESPN will air a 4 hour commercial free documentary by director Dan Klores exploring the effect of black colleges on basketball. The film was originally slated to be a 20 hour film on the history of basketball but while visiting with coaching legend Ben Jobe, Klores had a revelation and decided on a different idea.
“I love this film,” Klores said, “because I learned a lot. It’s something I hope opens up dialogue and gives people a view of the importance of black college basketball that I’m sure they never had.”
The documentary features other former basketball luminaries like Bob Love (Southern University), Willis Reed (Grambling), Al Attles (North Carolina A&T), Bobby Dandridge (Norfolk State), Charles Oakley (Virginia Union), Dick Barnett (Tennessee State) and John Chaney (Bethune-Cookman).
Part One points out little-known facts like dynamic coach John McLendon creating the four corners offense, which is frequently credited to Hall of Fame North Carolina coach Dean Smith.
McLendon also introduced the fast break to basketball and coached the first integrated pro team, the Cleveland Pipers, to a blowout victory over the 1960 Olympic team featuring future Hall of Famers Jerry West and Walt Bellamy.
I will for sure find some time to watch both parts of the documentary in what should be an eye opening experience. Many greats of the game were interviewed for this film and we can all stand to learn a lot from it. Klores supposedly donated 246 hours of unused footage from the film to the NBA for educational purposes and not for profit.
We should all remember the struggles of the past and realize how far we’ve come but still never forget where we started.