My best friend doesn’t understand why I keep going to sports movies. “It’s not like you don’t know who’s going to win,” she always tells me.
“Glory Road,” the true story of the Texas Western University men’s basketball team, which opened Friday, reminded me exactly why knowing the ending doesn’t matter.
Josh Lucas (“Sweet Home Alabama”, “A Beautiful Mind”) plays a convincing Don Haskins, a coach who leads the unknown 1966 Miners to a 27-1 season and an NCAA championship over the University of Kentucky.
Haskins recruits players with the intention of building a winning team, without regard to race. He brings seven black men to play basketball with conservative white Texans who, despite initial hostilities, end up fending for each other and fighting for more than just the championship.
After surviving grueling practices, hate crimes and several nail-biting games, the team agrees to make a statement. An all black line-up hits the court to play the all-white Kentucky team, coached by a cocky Adolph Rupp, played by Jon Voight.
Bobby Joe Hill, played by Derek Luke (“Antwone Fisher”), leads the team to victory and, in doing so, wins a game that helped bring about the eventual desegregation of college sports.
Although the whole theater knew the outcome of the game, I know I was not the only one on the edge of my seat – I think I even heard a few people clap when the second period buzzer sounded.
– Kathleen Thurber