Rose clarifies ‘Uncle Tom’ comments

Former Michigan star and current basketball analyst Jalen Rose attempted to clarify comments he made in ESPN’s documentary "The Fab Five," in which he referred to black Duke players as "Uncle Toms," USA Today’s Game On reported Thursday.

Rose reportedly left a long voicemail Wednesday night to further explain the comments, which former Duke star Grant Hill referred to as "sad and somewhat pathetic" in a New York Times editorial on Wednesday.

The former Michigan guard said the comments regarding Duke’s preference to recruiting "Uncle Tom’s" were said from his perspective as a high school athlete heading into college and do not reflect his current opinions as a 38-year-old man.

"I know a lot of people are trying to circumvent a great documentary that was two hours of quality content and paraphrase a statement that I made and look at the headline but not read the story," Rose said in the voicemail, according to USA Today. "That’s basically when I talked about my recruiting as a high school student as it related to Duke. I just want to make sure I verify how I felt about that. I was clearly talking about a framework from 1991 to 1993, not about 2011."

Rose went on to say he has "great respect and appreciation for Duke, its players and all they’ve achieved. The comments I made during the Fab Five documentary were clearly reflecting my thoughts as a teenager."

The documentary, on which Rose served as executive producer, first aired Sunday on ESPN.

"For me, Duke was a person," Rose said in the documentary. "I hated Duke and I hated everything Duke stood for. Schools like Duke don’t recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms."

In his editorial, Hill said, "It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a b*tch and worse, calling all black players at Duke ‘Uncle Toms’ and, to some degree, disparaging my parents for their education, work ethic and commitment to each other and to me."

Hill added, "I am aware Jalen has gone to some length to explain his remarks about my family in numerous interviews, so I believe he has some admiration for them."

Rose admitted in the documentary that he admired Hill’s upbringing as part of a "strong black family," explaining that as a teenager growing up in Detroit he resented the fact that he did not know his father.

Former Wolverine Jimmy King, who played alongside Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Ray Jackson as part of the "Fab Five" freshmen who arrived in Ann Arbor in 1991, echoed Rose’s sentiments in the documentary.

"I thought [former Duke star] Christian Laettner was soft; a b*tch. And I thought Grant Hill was a b*tch," King said, referring to what the Michigan players thought about the Blue Devils as teenagers.

But in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, King said his comments were what he felt about Hill and Duke at the time, not today.

"I don’t have any issues with Grant today," King said. "I’ve grown up. I don’t view people in that manner anymore.

"If I saw Grant, I’d definitely shake his hand," King added. "I’d congratulate him on having a great career, fighting through adversity and reinventing himself despite injuries."

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