Glory Road (Gartner, 2006)

An enjoyable tear jerker, Glory Road is a focused sports story about the journey of the 1966 Texas Western basketball team, who carried seven black players to only five whites, overcame internal squabbles and racism to win a national title over Kentucky.

Led by Don Haskins (marvelously played by Josh Lucas), the team destroyed convention and reinvented the game of basketball by starting five black players in that title game, the first time ever by an NCAA D1 team. Side stories of coach and players feel like an afterthought, as if the filmmakers themselves took Haskin’s credo of “only basketball, nothing else”, directly to heart.

But each player personality feels respectfully fleshed out. From the playground kids of Brooklyn to the steel mill worker from Detroit, director James Garnter gives ample opportunity to his actors to reveal the fears, heartaches, and triumphs of these characters. While a little corny and obvious at times, you can’t help get behind Glory Road, who’s greatest asset is a passion for basketball, and the men determined to express their love for the game through an awesome mixture of fundamentals and improvisation (stay for the end credits to hear the actual living members of the team speak out).

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