40 years ago, Don Haskins went on the recruiting trail to find the best talent in the land, black or white. 7 blacks and 5 whites made up the legendary 1965-66 Texas Western Miners. They were mocked and ridiculed for their showboating and flaunting of black players on the court. Yet, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, Haskins and his Miners came together as a team united to reach the National Championship game against powerhouse Kentucky. Written by
During the credits, an inset shows several of the actual people involved (Don Haskins, David Lattin, Pat Riley, Orsten Artis, Willie Worsley, Harry Flournoy, and Nevil Shed) commenting about the championship game and its implications. Video of that game is also shown. See more »
I was a Texas Western graduate in 1966 and attended the school all four previous years that Don Haskins ("the Bear") coached the basketball team. Of course, Coach Haskins came to TWC in 1961 and built his team over 5 years, not in one year as the movie tells it. I went to every home game in 1965-66 and remember every one as if it were yesterday. I watched all of the away games that were televised, including all of the games the Miners played in the NCAA tournament. Even though the producers of "Glory Road" took considerable artistic license, the story is mostly true. Here are some facts. The Miners blew away fourth ranked Iowa during a holiday tournament that season. It wasn't even close as the movie depicts it. The great comeback was against New Mexico in the "Pit". When Hispanic guard David Palacio came in to play in the second half, the team seemed to settle down and came from a 20 point deficit to win in overtime. The incredibly close game, and probably best game in America that year between the true best college teams in America was the Regional final between third ranked TWC and fourth ranked Kansas (not #1 Kentucky and #2 Duke in the final four semifinal), when Jo Jo White made that last second basket in overtime with his foot on the base line. The Miners went on to beat Kansas 81-80 in double overtime. Then the Miners beat Utah in the first game of the final four. If white player Jerry Armstrong hadn't defended against Utah's great Jerry Chambers, a black player, the Miners probably wouldn't have made it to the championship game against Kentucky. Chambers was beating every defender badly, including Lattin, Shed, and Flournoy, until Armstrong was put in to cover him. Chambers finished with 38 points, mostly in the first half and was the tournament's MVP.
Coach Haskins is beloved by every El Pasoan, whether living in the city now or not, and is a true American treasure. It's wonderful for the rest of the country and the world to finally learn about "the Bear" and his great 1966 Miner team that El Paso has known and loved for 40 years. It's much more than a basketball story, it's a story about tolerance and what hard work and discipline can do through the leadership and determination of a great coach and human being.
The acting was superb, especially Josh Lucas' performance as "the Bear". His performance was spot on. The young actors playing on the team were outstanding. The early tensions shown between the black and white players in the movie did not exist according to the real players on that team. The book "Glory Road" is a must read, because it tells the true story told by "the Bear", Don Haskins, himself. I also recommend David Lattin's book "Slam Dunk to Glory". The producers should have shown the real life characters, including Coach Haskins, Pat Riley, and some of the actual 1966 players earlier in the credits, because most of the audiences leave the theater without knowing they're going to be interviewed. I thought that was the most interesting part of the movie. The movie and the story deserve a perfect 10. I hope it wins some awards.
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