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Basketball Legends vs. Racism

The founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame includes John Wooden, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Dean Smith and Dr. James Naismith. Adande reported on the proceedings in Kansas City to kick the thing off, and used his blog to share some important anecdotes that didn't fit in the column.

Sometimes it's easy to forget in today's era, when black players are everywhere and there's an African American coach at Kentucky, but these inductees all had to fight their battles against segregation.

Russell said that even though he graduated early, in January, he didn't get a scholarship offer until August. He wound up at San Francisco because it was the only school that gave him one. (Wooden, still recalling his two losses to Russell's San Francisco teams, joked, "I wish you never got it.")

Robertson went to Cincinnati instead of Indiana in his home state. "I wanted to go to IU real bad, but they didn't want me," he said.

Wooden recalled his refusal to bring his Indiana State teams to Kansas City in the 1940s until he was assured the black player on his team would be allowed to stay at the same hotel and be treated equally to the white players.

And Russell kept bringing up Smith's efforts to join the lunch counter sit-ins in North Carolina.